Oracle After Hours: Fighting to the finish line: How sibling rivalries enable people to reach their own destinations

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Violet Guzman-Robles

We are all winners in one way or another. We have all won at least once. 

What we do not know is that the rest of our lives become a race. The race I have been running in for my entire life stresses less importance on the finish line and much more on who I am running against. 

These lovely contestants are my lifelong and built-in best friends: my sisters. Since day one, it has been a constant battle of who can come out on top. Who can be potty trained the fastest? (I received last place for that one unfortunately.) Who is the best cook? (I recently lost that title to my oldest sister.) Who has the best taste in music? (All tied for last as we are not a very musically inclined family.)

 I walked into South my freshman year with the lenses I imagined my older sister would have. She is the reason I took the journalistic writing course in the first place. Except, she hated that class. I was determined to love it, to prove that I could walk down these same halls and finish what she abandoned and enjoy doing it, and so far, I have.

 Who is the most responsible? Who is the smartest? Who is the most diligent? These are the topics that often leave one of us in tears when we compare ourselves, as evident by our most recent family get-together on Thanksgiving. These petty little arguments have always found a way to interfere in our relationships with one another, and it was after dinner that I began to fear that its effects would not be temporary if we continued on in this mindset. 

Why did I feel the need to surpass them though? I have plenty to thank my sisters for, and still, I want to beat them anyway I could. They deserve my gratitude, not my competition stemming from the pressure to be better.

The poison of comparison is often spoon fed to kids by their parents, intentional or not. It was no different in our household. Depending on the day, the words “you are nothing like your sister” could be either a compliment or insult. It was never a question of who would be better than the last but rather, who would not be as bad. I’ve seen other families burdened by comparison as well: younger siblings expected to fill the shoes and live up to the greatness of the elder. Pitted against each other from a young age, it is no wonder everything is a competition between us now. 

Now we are all different. Life has different choices for us, different expectations. Our paths are uniquely our own. For my oldest sister, she is winning in the kid department. She has got all of us beat two (soon to be three!) to zero. My little sister reads at the speed of light, finishing a book a day at the very least. And my other sister is paying off her college tuition while still taking classes, soon to emerge with a diploma almost completely debt free. Who would not be proud of us?

The day after Thanksgiving, I fell asleep while reading a book. I woke up and found that my younger sister had bookmarked the page I left off on. It wasn’t a big deal to her, shrugging it off when I asked her about it. But it shocked me and left me with the realization that the fabrication of a rivalry between us had caused me to be ungrateful for my sisters.

Perhaps it is not even the same race we are all participating in. I have come to learn that maybe we started as teammates, not competitors, and eventually went our own ways to participate in different races. We are all running at the same time to different destinations. All that I am certain about is that no matter what, when I finish my race, I want to see all of their faces there waiting for me on the sidelines because they have enabled me to become who I am and arrive at my final destination.