For as long as I can remember, my brother has always been the baby of the family. Even though he was born five years after me, I don’t remember what it was like before he arrived, it seems as though, my life has always featured his presence somehow. Growing up, my baby brother was everyone’s favorite child. Not only was he cute, he was a boy, something I desperately wanted to be. Back then, boys generally got more attention and respect purely based on the fact that they were boys. Being a boy was associated with strength, provision, and legacy. Whereas, being a girl was associated with, well, cleaning and cooking, you know, the “menial” tasks. Of course, this aggravated me.
Although I loved my brother, I often felt like he was stealing my spotlight. I did not resent him, in fact, I enjoyed being around him and in many ways, I admired his genuine love for people and his calm nature. But when adults made comments about us, it was clear to me, there was something special about my brother that I lacked. And through the eyes of my seven year old self, I shrunk beside him. That was my first encounter with a monster that would soon become my friend, the fear that I was inadequate.
From then, I accepted that I was not enough, I needed something to make me shine, something to make me a star. Thankfully for me, I had a passion for arts, so between the ages of seven to thirteen, I invested myself in singing, writing and acting. Those are still some of my best childhood memories. I was the schools’ darling and I felt validated because I had found something in me worth loving, I had a gift. The principal would ask me to be involved in our school plays, I’d perform during special events and I was part of the choir. But my popularity was short lived, my family moved to another town and I had to change schools and I discovered that my new school cared nothing about my singing or acting. I panicked. Once again, I dug deep to find something in me worth loving. That’s when my writing came to the forefront. I would write stories and my friends at school would read and rave about my creativity. Some nights, at home, I would pretend I was still doing my homework even though I wasn’t just so I could write and have new material to offer my new friends.
Over the years my brother and I became the best of friends. And as we grew I realized that although I was jealous of him in my early years, my jealousy was unnecessary and misguided. Although I didn’t realize it when we were growing up, my little brother was struggling with a monster of his own. Due to all the admiration and attention he received, he grew up thinking he couldn’t mess up. He had all these expectations to fulfill. The load of perfection was too heavy for his fragile shoulders. For the first time, I saw my brother for who he was, a human being who wasn’t trying to steal my shine, a young man who needed his big sister, a kid who wanted to be free of expectations.
It was this revelation that gave me the courage to confront and defeat the enemy of my self-worth, the fear that I was inadequate. I learnt to accept myself, I learnt to validate myself, I learnt to be enough for myself. Since then, I have been very careful not to compare myself with anyone, but to appreciate my journey, my path, my life. I have learnt to be brave enough to be myself in a world that wants me to pretend to be something I’m not.
Whatever wounded you, whoever scarred you, cannot stop you from living above that pain unless you allow yourself to stay wounded. What I have learnt is that even though it is not visible to us what other people are struggling with doesn’t mean they are spared from life’s harsh lessons. And when life has crushed us, we need not stay broken, we need the tenacity to overcome our pain and be healed again.
My prayer for you is that you wake up to the reality that everything you need to excel in life, you already are~ original.