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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Movies Pop Culture

These Disney Channel Original Movies changed my life forever

The announcement of the month-long marathon of Disney Channel Original Movies is giving me wistful feelings of my favorite classics. From Don’t Look Under the Bed to High School Musical, Disney has planned out every single way to get us in the throwback mood (or at least more as if we weren’t already).

Out of the 99 (soon to be 100) DCOMs, there is at least one that you can say, “That movie taught me a great lesson about ____”. It’d be weird if Disney didn’t use their magical powers to sneak in some points as our younger selves tuned in. Even if you can’t think of some on the top of your head, I got you! I’m here to remind you some of the many great DCOMs that affected me.

[bctt tweet=”Disney has planned out every single way to get us in the throwback mood (or at least more as if we weren’t already).” username=”wearethetempest”]

Now think, can I learn anything from a cartoon? If that’s a bizarre question to everyone, then I guess it was just my dad who wondered why I love cartoons. Most of the cartoons I watched had comedy that a little kid can laugh along to. Why would I bring up a cartoon for a DCOM marathon?

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One of my favorite scenes in this movie!

The real question is, how can you forget about The Proud Family Movie?! You got Oscar Proud, Trudy Proud, Penny Proud, BeBe & CeCe Proud, and who could forget Suga Mama? The best part is, you also got Penny’s friends, Proud Family relatives, and other supporting characters that made the show great (Who else remembers Doctor Payne?). The funny series ended with a movie which featured minions made out of peanuts and a lot of clones. Sure, it was filled with jokes and a plot line about Penny not being Oscar’s little baby girl anymore. Oddly, I got a more serious lesson, too, about still loving my family, despite our differences. I obviously got this before I officially became a teenager, nonetheless I needed it. 

Okay, I feel like that last example wasn’t convincing enough since it’s a cartoon movie. Let’s switch over to Twitches along with Cheetah Girls 1 & 2. It’s everything society wants the opposite for girls! Girl power, sisterhood, and staying true to yourself!

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“Go Twitches!”

Twitches (featuring Tia and Tamera Mowry, my favorite twins!) was about twin sisters (who are witches, that’s where the phrase “twitches” comes from) come together to save the world from darkness with their powers. No boy drama, no girl-on-girl hate, just two powerful young women. Not saying that having boy drama and girl-on-girl hate in a movie directed towards girls is terrible, since it can be used for a lesson or for fun. Although, not seeing either of those is nice to experience once in awhile. It taught me that girls alone can kick butt!

[bctt tweet=”No boy drama, no girl-on-girl hate, just two powerful young women.” username=”wearethetempest”]

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“We make up one big family though we don’t look the same!”

Not mentioning Cheetah Girls 1 & 2 would probably have me killed (the third movie wasn’t terrible…but it wasn’t that good sadly). Not only you have sisterhood, girl power, staying true to yourself and to your friends, but also amazing songs to go with it. My favorite song is Girl Power (I feel like it’s pretty obvious based off of who I am I’d love it). I remember having a second of shock when I first heard “Throw your hands up if you know that you’re a star! You better stand up if you know just who you are! Never give up never say die! Girl Power Girl Power!!”

It was so rare for me to hear such lyrics. A song promoting girls? Encouraging girls to be strong?! Well after that second of shock, I started to dig the beat and my little first grade self was dancing around the room. Cheetah Girls 1 & 2 fed the inner feminist growing inside of me, even before I learned what feminism actually was.  

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I love Corbin Bleu’s curls! Is that just me?

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again!” they say. It can help a kid learn understand perseverance, but what if you add a jump rope into the equation? Okay, that was a bad way to slide the famous Jump In into the conversation. You get my point, right? Jump In! featuring our favorites like Corbin Bleu and Keke Palmer entertained us with amazing tricks and bomb music choices. I was taught that perseverance and determination pays off in the end, and that it helps to have supporting family and friends by your side. However, what about the issue of masculinity? Bleu’s character was made fun of for being a part of jump rope competitions instead of “sticking to the status quo.” (Sorry! I had to add a High School Musical reference since Bleu is a character in that movie too!) His peers saw it as a thing labeled under the title “girl’s stuff,” and teased him about it. It made me think a little at a young age about there something wrong with the whole “only boys” and “only girls” rhetoric I was always taught before.

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Pose! Pose! Pose!

Last but not least, my favorite of them all: The Color of Friendship. Based off a true story, California Congressman Ron Dellums and his family host their home to Mahree Bok, a South African. Little did the Dellums know that Mahree is a white South African and little did Mahree know that the Dellums are a black family. They both were expecting the total opposite!

Did I mention that Mahree’s father was a policeman and Congressman Dellums was an activist to end apartheid in South Africa? The irony. However, Piper Dellums (the daughter) and Mahree later on developed a friendship and the learned about each other’s different worlds. Mahree came from South Africa, still under apartheid, and the Dellums live in Washington, D.C., the capital of a country still suffering with the long-term affects of slavery and segregation. There is so much a person can say about this movie, but the lessons it taught me are unforgettable.  I wasn’t aware of racism outside of the United States and thankfully learned about apartheid during the movie. 

[bctt tweet=”Unity is probably one the most things we need to know and practice. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

If you haven’t noticed, a common theme within all of these DCOMs I mentioned is unity.  It can seem impossible with some of our elected “adult leaders” in power throwing temper tantrums. Yet, it’s not always impossible. To be accepting, determined, encouraging, and knowing you can do it brings success.

Too deep for a couple of Disney movies? Well, it doesn’t hurt to look into our favorites sometimes.