Family Life Stories Life

This is my open letter of apology to my sister

Growing up, I had only a few friends. From the ages of twelve to sixteen, I had a grand total of three people I would talk to and even then, I only felt comfortable messaging one out of these three friends. But, the one consistent person in my life has always been my older sister, someone I owe a big apology to. 

When we were younger, my older sister and I were often called twins – we were so in-sync all the time whether it was sentences, responses, or even emotions. My sister is in fact just under two years older than I am and although she can be a bit up herself for being the older sibling at times, I can’t say I’ve never connected with her even though my sister was always a little more sympathetic to things than I was or even still am; if I shed a tear, she shed a waterfall. 

Exhibit A; I slipped headfirst into the side of the building and got a concussion at school one time in year three and she cried more than I did as she went off to get a teacher who basically told her to calm down because not a single coherent word was coming out of her mouth. Though I had to stay home battling a throbbing headache for the upcoming weeks, my sister would spend her time at school making get well soon cards for me and coming home to just sit with me. 

I remember when she was leaving primary school and on her last day, I was filled with dread because I realized that if I now had a spat with my friends, I couldn’t run off to my sister. She was now going to be somewhere that would require me to climb out of the school gates undetected, crossroads safely and not get kidnapped by the white van that appears to be everywhere. Far too much effort for the kid who barely got off the sofa once she sat down.

I got through that year anyhow and remember my sister giving me a pep talk before my first day of secondary school with the same sentence over and over: “I’m there if you need me.” It got really sour, really fast. 

Although undiagnosed at the time, social anxiety has always been a lifelong struggle of mine and I always took comfort in familiarity in my surroundings. I expressed to my sister how nervous I was about starting school on our walk there and she agreed for both of us to meet during break time in the school canteen. The first day had already been awful for me with the highlight of it realizing that I would be picked on by this one girl for the next five years. Her reason? She thought I was ugly. 

As I sat at a table waiting for my sister, a group of girls from my class walked past me making comments about how ‘ugly’ I was. I became the focal point of their laughter when my sister walked up to me and gave me a hug asking how my first few lessons were. I was suddenly torn between being in my safe space and fitting in – would I have been spared the embarrassment if I didn’t talk to my sister? I didn’t know it wouldn’t matter either way; the class bullies ran with it, teasing me relentlessly for the next five years. 

I got teased for a myriad of things during my time at secondary school, but it was all largely in comparison to me and my sister. She was tall, fairer-skinned (colorism at its finest), pretty, and above all, skinny. It didn’t help that she was also smart so whenever we had the same teachers, I would have to face comparisons by the teachers which would just become more ammunition for the class bullies. One girl in my class spread the rumor that I was adopted because there was no way one sister could be so beautiful and the other one so ugly. Another girl told me that my sister should be embarrassed to have such a fat sibling. The comments only got more demeaning from there.

I took it all out on my sister. I started arguing with her every morning so she would leave for school without me and purposefully get out of class really late so I wouldn’t have to walk home with her. Everything anyone has ever bought me down for, I would blame on her and I made sure she knew it. I bullied my own sister for my insecurities and that is a regret that will haunt me for the rest of my life. I regret my actions especially because my sister is a kind soul who has only ever encouraged me and waited patiently for me to work through any issues I was having.

It wasn’t until I got out of secondary school that I realized how awful I had been to someone who had never been mean to me – we came out of school with an overwrought relationship on my behalf. The road to healing has been long but my sister deserves to know that none of it was her fault and if I could undo it, I would.

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Gender & Identity Life

I’m the “perfect” child in my tight-knit Latino family, and the pressure feels so unbearable

I’m not sure how it came to be that I’m the one child in my family that everyone relies on. As the youngest of three, it was always my expectation that I’d be freer to do what my heart desired than my siblings were. After all, my parents had already gone through the growing pains of parenthood twice before I came along, so naturally, I’d have the opportunity to spread my wings a little further, right? Nope.

See, life has this funny way of stopping you dead in your tracks the moment you develop expectations. Growing up, my family was incredibly close. We enjoyed Sunday dinners together, laughed our way through the holidays and fast-tracked our way to each other in times of need. But things changed. We grew older, but not necessarily wiser. My siblings and their families dispersed at the drop of a hat, it seemed, leaving my parents and I looking on from a distance.

And as we looked on, it became abundantly clear that my siblings, despite their age and maturity, weren’t necessarily equipped to tackle life without the closeness we’d enjoyed prior. More frequently than not, they needed advice, money or even a shoulder to cry on. My parents, who have so very often gone beyond their call of duty in my eyes, grew tired. So, somewhere along the line, I began to provide the shoulder to lean on. I listened; I offered advice; I shelled out money—all so my parents could finally relax as they deserve to do.

But I’m not just a lamp post for my siblings to rest upon; I also try to be the easy and agreeable child my parents need at this stage in their lives. My parents are only in their sixties, but they’ve done their time, so I don’t give them trouble. I do everything in my power to make sure they know I’m doing the “right thing.” I show them that they won’t lose me to the world beyond our home.

It’s not an easy role to play. I struggle with the idea that my siblings have lived and I am still trying to find my own way without making too many mistakes. I’m often frustrated by the fact that I feel confined to the small world my parents (and siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins) are comfortable with me inhabiting. There are things I want to do, places I want to see and risks I want to take, but can’t because I need to be there for the people—the family—who rely on me today.

Within the context of my immediate family, I often see myself as the “last chance.” For one reason or another, whether due to extenuating circumstances or poor judgment, my siblings have allowed their best opportunities to pass them by. I cannot do that. I cannot, in good conscience, allow all my parents’ hard work and dedication go to waste. They worked tirelessly, made sacrifices and endured difficult circumstances to ensure that my siblings and I had every opportunity to succeed.

And so, I feel an enormous pressure to be perfect, to be correct, and to be flawless. The problem is that I’m not any of those things. I, too, make mistakes. I, too, can be reckless with emotion and decision-making. But, at my age and in my familial circumstances, I can’t afford to screw up too badly. To anyone else, 30 is still young. Plenty of time to make mistakes, to rediscover yourself, to explore the world. For someone like me, though, for whom the stakes seem so high, 30 feels ancient. Sometimes I’m left wondering how long before the bough breaks under the pressure to be an ideal child.

Some of this is par for the course in a Latino family and I accept that as part of what differentiates us from families of other cultural backgrounds. But, as an individual, I am distinctly American and long to have the chance to be as carefree and flawed as my siblings, friends, and colleagues have been…even though it’s frowned upon, on some level, by conservative Latino culture.

Sometimes I think playing this role, that of the reliably ideal child, has hindered my personal growth and much of the onus there is on me. What I’ve learned over the years, though, is that everyone is different. Neither of my siblings could have fit into the box that I do in this family, and part of what makes me unique is that I can find hope and comfort in living this way. Ultimately, I know I have to find a balance between serving myself and serving others. It’s a process. It’s a matter of understanding myself and how I fit into the world around me.

Little by little, I’m finding my way.

Humor Life

10 reasons being the youngest sibling is the best damn thing ever

Being the youngest child is a godsend. Of course, my sisters think of me as a spoiled brat, but who can blame them? I always get my way.

No, it’s not always perfect. There are definitely cons to being the youngest child of the family, but whether it’s that your parents baby you too much or don’t take your endeavors seriously, my opinion is that, as the youngest, every negative can be turned into something to exploit.

So join me on an evil journey of using our youngest child privileges to one-up our older siblings!

1. You get all your siblings’ hand-me-downs.


This might sound like a negative, but think about it: how often have you seen older, vintage pieces come back in style? Being the youngest meant that I had access to my sisters’ wardrobes as soon as their clothes were too small. Infinite band t-shirts? A fashion blogger’s dream.

2. You’re the only one left for your parents to spoil.


Hand-me-downs aren’t the only wardrobe bonus you get as the youngest child. As soon as my sisters left for university and started earning their own money, my parents focused all their buying-power in one area: me. Family Shopping Sundays, anyone?

Family Shopping Sundays, anyone?

3. You get away with pretty much anything.


Let’s face it: your parents are tired after having to deal with two or three other kids. By the time they get to disciplining you, they’re so over it, they’d rather just let you do you. I was allowed to have a boyfriend well before either of my sisters were allowed to even think about boys.

4. You can cry your way out of any misdemeanor.


When you do get in trouble, crying solves every problem. No one wants to see the baby of the family in tears, it makes them feel like monsters. So that test you failed because you forgot to study? Just throw a few puppy dog eyes in their direction and you’re set for life.

5. No one takes you too seriously.


Okay, again, this sounds like a negative. But when you consider the perks, it can actually be a huge pro for your reputation. I don’t know how many times I’ve announced to my family that I’m going to do some big thing that will blow everyone’s minds. Of course, being the baby of the family, not many people take my announcements too seriously. So when I end up failing, getting bored, or giving up, there’s no one to be disappointed in me. It’s smooth sailing!

6. You’re treated like royalty.


Whenever I get sick, my mom does everything for me. She’ll rub my back, fetch my medicine, cook me good food and even bring it in on a tray. For my sisters, it’s not so easy. Since they’re older they get treated like they already know how to look after themselves. But being the eternal baby, I get to just sit back and relax while people dote all over me. Ka. Ching.

7. You get to be bossy without people getting mad.


I prefer to think of myself as assertive rather than bossy, but I won’t lie, sometimes I teeter on the border. Whether it’s complaining to my dad to pick me up a few hours outside of curfew, or convincing my mom to cook what want for dinner, all my whining is only ever seen as cute rather than annoying or over-indulgent.

8. You never feel old.


No matter how old you get, you’ll always feel like the baby of the family. Yes, other kids will be born into the extended family, but your immediate family will only ever see you as young. Age can be difficult to deal with for some people, but when you’re the youngest child, no age ever feels too old.

9. Your parents already know what to do with you.


Your parents have had time to make mistakes with the kids that came before you. They messed up here and there, and even though your siblings aren’t scarred by it, they definitely could have used a little more practiced parenting. Being the youngest means that your parents have been through the ropes already. They know exactly what to bring to every bake sale, and they know exactly how much is too little to spend on stationery for the next school year.

10. You’re born into the age of technology.


Okay, so maybe this one only works if your siblings are way older than you. The difference between my sisters and I are that they were born a whole ten years earlier than me; a giant time jump between technological advancements. This means that while my sisters’ preferred mode of music-listening in high school was CDs on Discmans, mine has been iTunes and Tidal on my iPhone.

Being the youngest child is nothing short of amazing. Yes, there are some cons to having older siblings, but nothing beats the unlimited amounts of attention, praise, and general awesomeness thrown your way. Fellow youngest kids, how lucky are we?

Gender & Identity Humor Life

12 realities that hit too close to home for every middle child

Having siblings has its perks. When you aren’t bickering, they can often serve as built-in friends, and that companionship can last a lifetime. But being the middle child among your siblings is a unique experience, one that comes with drawbacks and benefits.

1. It’s always you against them.

middle child, boys slapping boys

Even though you aren’t the youngest, your siblings always seem to team up against you—even as adults. They take advantage of outnumbering you, so they always get their way.

2. Everything was theirs first.

middle child, ron weasley hand-me-down

Hand-me-downs. In a family with multiple children, they are almost always inevitable.

Your first car? It was originally your older sister’s. Those clothes? Your sibling grew out of them. It’s a pleasantry when you get something that is yours and has always been yours.

3. You always had to sit in the middle (aka b****) of the backseat.

middle child, stay in your seat, teacher yelling

Zero leg room. You’re sitting on a big, uncomfortable bump. And you’re constantly rubbing shoulders with the siblings who just got you into trouble.

4. You were constantly competing for attention.

middle child, man yelling 'pay attention to me!'

I remember a family video where I was trying to steal the thunder from my little (much cuter) brother. They were reveling in and recording him as he tried to walk or whatnot, and I was jumping in front of the camera trying to sing.

5. You’re the odd one out.

middle child, girls playing brother running them over with toy car

The others seem to have everything in common, to like the same things and to have similar personalities. You on the other hand? You’re the exact opposite and are interested in everything but what they are.

6. You got away with more.

middle child, evil face little girl

It was easy for you to slide under the radar because no one paid much attention to you. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.

7. You were probably left somewhere at least once.

middle child, pretty little liars I feel so forgotten

I’ve literally been left at a friend’s house, even though all of my other siblings were picked up from the same place.

8. People forget who you are.

middle child, my name is mark

Your name is either so-and-so’s sibling or your sibling’s actual name. That’s it. So, you might as well not have your own name.

9. You’re half one parent and half the other.

middle child, tyra banks I'm perfect

You’re subtly perfect because you’re the best of both parents. This is perhaps one of the few advantages of being a middle child.

10. Your youngest sibling ruined everything.

middle child, sibling rivalry

Before your youngest sibling was born, you had everybody wrapped around your finger. But then another kid came along and now your super powers are gone and replaced with middle child problems.

11. You’re incapable of getting hurt

middle child, kevin hart help me

With the first few kids, any bump, bruise or sprain was a serious issue. But as the middle child, parents are much laxer about your aches and pains. No more doctors’ visits or being coddled, instead you’re told to shake it off.

12. You’re still low-key someone’s favorite.

middle child, rihanna putting on a crown

They may mix up your name, forget you at the neighbor’s and give you a hard time, but deep down you know you’re at least one parent’s favorite. So you play the part. But you know you’re a queen.