Sibling Revelry

By: Daphne Becker

I’ve done gymnastics, tee ball, tennis, basketball, volleyball, track, softball, soccer and, if you count fighting with my sister, boxing. But despite my multiple conquests, nothing ever stuck.

My parents first put me in gymnastics when I was about three or four. Because my little sister, Lily, is only about three years younger than me, she spent her whole infancy watching her big sister out on the mat having fun. So when she was around two, she decided she wanted to do it too.

Lily was so young that the gym and my parents didn’t really know if she could do it, so they gave her an ultimatum (a word that she didn’t even understand yet): if she wanted to do gymnastics, she had to be potty trained before she could start. At two years old, she had potty trained herself (with help from my parents) and started out on the mat with me.

She moved up level to level at a rapid pace and soon passed me. As a sister, I was proud of her, but as an older sister, I was extremely jealous and angry that Lily had the natural ability that I lacked, and that my little sister was better than me at something.

I am the older sister. I believed that being older meant that I was supposed to be ahead of her in most everything.

But instead she was ahead of me. How was I supposed to be someone she looked up to when she is better than me?

After almost eight years of gymnastics, I finally quit and tried to venture into other sports to see if I could finally find something I could be successful in.

I bet you can already guess that again I didn’t really succeed.

Part of the reason I believe I didn’t succeed is because I didn’t really want to work to become good at a certain sport. I wanted what my sister had, natural athletic ability.

Not to demean the work my sister put in. She had a natural ability, but her life, and in a way my family’s life, revolved around gymnastics. Whether it was spending a weekend at a meet or trying to get Lily to and from practice, once Lily got to a certain level, my home would be filled with potential floor music.

She trained hard to be good at her sports. She worked harder than most people try at anything.

I have always had a lot of love and pride in my sister. She is such a beam of light and really knows how to bring laughter to any situation, but the deep pited jealousy I felt made it hard to feel happy about her successes.

It took me a long time to realize that I don’t have to be sporty to have value. Instead, my talents lie more with creativity.

My sister thinks more straightforward, whereas I think more outside of the box.

As a child I would tell stories and write music and take art classes, and that is what I felt I had a natural ability with. I just never thought it mattered because sports always felt like they held more importance in my household.

Everything I did and all the successes I had always felt second best to what my sister was doing. I never thought the things I did ever measured up to the cool things my sister did and continues to do today.

Looking back, I can see that necessarily isn’t true. My parents gave me a lot more freedom to express myself. My sister didn’t really get the types of opportunities that I did because she had a strict schedule she would have to follow whereas I had a lot more time to do things I enjoyed.

Lily still does a lot of sports. In fact, right now she is competing in the Crossfit open for the 14-15 age group and doing a really good job of it. In the first workout, she tied for 10th place of all the girls competing in the world.

Accepting that we are different has allowed me to support and love my sister without feeling jealous of her successes. I can be her role model through my behavior and actions and not because I can do a better tsukahara than her (mostly because I can’t).

You don’t get to pick your family, but you can decided on how you treat them, so despite our numerous differences, I will choose to stop being a jealous brat and be my sister’s biggest fan.

Team Lily all the way.

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