Comparison to siblings causes false assumptions

Comparison to siblings causes false assumptions

Molly Stryker, asst. news editor

“You’re Ben Stryker’s sister?” “Doug goes to MIT?” “Wow, you have a lot to live up to.” Phrases like these have followed me my entire life thanks to my very successful older brothers.

Let me introduce my brothers. In high school, Ben earned his status as an Eagle Scout, was president of his youth group and is now a junior at Purdue University’s School of Engineering. Doug was the president of South’s policy debate team for two years, earned a spotless 5.0 GPA all four years of high school  and is now a sophomore at MIT.

The accomplishments didn’t stop at South. Ben is a member of his fraternity’s executive board, and Doug was getting paid to do research for a professor as a freshman. Both boys plan to graduate in four years with their Master’s degrees. As you can see, I have a lot to live up to.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s perfect having these older brothers. Of course I feel pressures to perform to a certain standard based on what my brothers did. And I’m painfully aware that all eyes are on me to see how I’m going to “one-up” Ben and Doug, especially since it’s my junior year and college is approaching faster than I think.

However, I choose not to crumble under those pressures (at least most of the time), but use the pressure as a source of motivation. Because my brothers have accomplished such great things, I am always striving for bigger and better things like they do. In fact, I don’t think I will ever settle for anything short of excellent.

Even when we were kids, I remember constantly trying to do as well as them. If either of them brought home an A on a spelling test, you can bet that I’d work for a 100 percent on my next test. And of course I’d make sure everyone in my family was aware of that achievement.

Something else I’ve noticed with having succesful siblings are assumptions made about me based on my brothers. I can’t even say the number of times someone has told me I’ll do well on a difficult test with the justification, “Your brothers are smart!” In terms of college, I’ve heard plenty of times, “You’ll get in there, your brother goes to MIT!”

While I appreciate the attempt at a compliment, I have to scratch my head at the logic of that one. Often I get the feeling that others believe I cruise through with little work and still succeed. I can assure you that is false. I work very hard for what I earn and my brothers are the same. They got to be where they are for a reason–it wasn’t just luck.

None of this is to say that I wish my brothers had dumbed it down a little for my benefit. I am extremely proud of what they have accomplished thus far in their lives. Basically anyone that knows me can attest to that, as I’m always working my brothers into conversation. They are my role models and biggest influencers. One day, I hope to make them as proud as they’ve made me.

I am certain that I am not the only student at South in a situation like this. And to all the “second best” students out there, to say the least, I feel you. Sadly, it is too easy to give up, sit down and convince ourselves that we won’t live up to those standards, and I’ve definitely had my share of those moments. Take this as a challenge and use it as reason to work harder.

After all, it has truly been a privilege growing up with Ben and Doug. I’m beyond lucky to have siblings who would spend hours on FaceTime just to help me with WebAssigns. I don’t know how many others have siblings as great as that. Call me crazy, but I wouldn’t trade those two for the world.