When I was seventeen years old I would find myself in the hallway staring at a picture of my brother in his Military uniform, my reflection sitting beside him, and I would wonder when I would make my family proud. I was the youngest and still hadn’t accomplished as nearly as much as my older brother had. Relatives would ask me when I would be getting a job or when I would be getting married, starting a family, or even learning how to drive. All things my brother already had under his belt. I couldn’t help but find myself thinking He was the skyscraper and i was merely the shadow it cast.
Thats not when it started either. I entered high school right after he graduated. I entered the same program he had been in for four years, and immediately the teacher asked if I had any relatives in the corp. I nodded and said “Patrick”. His eyes opened wide and he said “You’re Patrick’s sister? Hey it’s Patrick’s sister!” For the next two years I was know as “Patrick’s little sister” If I performed badly I was asked how my brother would think. If I performed well I was told that I was following in my brothers footsteps. Nothing I did was of my accord. Everything was because of my heritage towards my older brother.
When I was even younger and I would show my makeshift books to my parents, they would read them and toss them to the side. Yet when a child my brothers age published a book at twelve, he was the one offered the encouragement to pursue writing, and I was left with a pen and paper wondering if I was ever going to praised for my own accomplishments. As much as I despised being compared, being forgotten, and how much I would beg for attention of my own I would give so much to be where things were so much simpler.
My brother is merely twenty one. My brother has three kids, a wife, and still lives at home. My brother is trying his best and doing everything he can to support his little ones and his wife but one man can only do so much. My brother isn’t as happy as he used to be. Now instead of trying to catch up to what he has and everything hes accomplished I find that everyone wants me to be completely different. My parents no longer say “Look what your brother has accomplished” and began saying “Please don’t end up like your brother” I find myself trying to be the child that learned from their siblings mistakes instead of looking up to them and finding that I could do great things too.
Looking back the people and family I look up to are now people my mother never wants me to be. My aunt who worked so long to go through college and get the degree she wanted, and is now on depression medication and fighting multiple diseases. My grandma, who held my hand and walked me to school everyday, who raised five kids and not once said she regret having any of them, stopped fighting for her life because her sons wouldn’t take the time out of their day to make sure she was okay. My mom, who was raised with no father because of a terrible accident, now seems bitter and wishes daily that she hadn’t had kids or had at least waited longer to even get married. I’m standing in the shadows of everyone’s failed attempts at being happy.
I light my incense, grab a pen and pencil, and try doing what I love. Because I’m not just their shadow of what could have been. I’m not my mothers desires. I’m not my brother, I’m not my aunt, and I am not my grandma. I’m not going to look at the world and pity the people who wasted time wondering what could have been. My grandma was a strong, beautiful woman. My aunt is so smart and so successful and I am so proud of her. My mom is so strong willed and so able minded that she could do basically everything. My brother is only twenty one and he’s in the army, he’s married to the woman he loves, and he has three beautiful children that smile and brighten up everyones day. Yet that leaves one question standing, who am I?
I am a writer. I am an artist. I am strong. I am building my life up and nothing anyone says to me is ever going to break it down. Because I am not the shadow of a my brother. I am not the shadow of my independent mother. I am not the shadow of my deceased grandmother. I am so many things. I am smart. I am creative. I am fast. I am so much more than anyone ever believes me to be. I am going to continue to be so much more and I’m going to make myself proud. My life is and will never be about my family’s mistakes. I am not my brothers failures. I am my own accomplishments. I am me. Nothing and no one is ever going to change that.
Little bit of advice, you aren’t so bad either. You’re not anyones shadow. You are your own person. So get out there and make something absolutely incredible.