The Challenge of Being Your own Person When You are a Sibling


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Analise Bruno, Editor-in-Chief

There’s a common joke that the middle child typically tends to get overlooked in sibling pairs of three. They’re the ones with the most strict standards imposed on them, the ones most critically judged, the seemingly most invisible. As a person who is the middle child, and has presumed the role of “oldest child” by default now that my oldest sibling is an adult living on their own, I have to say that it’s never so much about feeling invisible, as it is about trying to stand out. There’s the term “sibling rivalry” out there that attempts to sum up seeded jealousy between sister and sister, brother and brother, or brother and sister, but honestly, the tension comes more from a place of inferiority than competitiveness.
The idea of this concept first came to me when I read an article about the Hadid sisters. Despite the obvious difference in appearance and lifestyle, the close age and connection between the two sisters remind me of one I have with my own. Recently, in an interview with Vogue, Bell Hadid talked about the pressure she felt to get a nose job at 14 and regrets her decision. She said the main reason for getting plastic surgery wasn’t because she initially felt like there was something wrong with her nose, but because she felt that her beauty was always being compared to her older sisters’. Bella mentioned that she was often made to feel like the “uglier sister” with many agencies, and even her mother, favoring Gigi Hadid’s more eurocentric traits.

Obviously, Bella Hadid is now one of the highest-paid supermodels in the world, but the larger issue with the whole situation brings to light the challenges that come with being your own person, especially when you have a genetic opposite to compare to.

Human beings are naturally inclined to want to be original and not like anyone else. But, eventually, we succumb to many forms of conventionality to fit in as best we can. The truth is, we often favor the idea of sticking out more than we actually like experiencing it. However, above all, what we yearn for most desperately is to have our own distinct identity- even if we follow the latest fashion trends and fall into the cycle of conventionality, we want to be known as our own separate person. With my sister and I falling so close in age, neither of us felt like we had that for quite some time. We were often referred to under one name: “the girls” which indirectly morphed us into one human being. You seldom find fault with this as a child, but as you come to grow older and your desire for individual expression is at its peak, you begin to shy away from these conjoining labels. Then, of course, once you actually go off and make your own friends and form your own identity after years of being burdened with one joining title you are faced with an overwhelming sense of inferiority.

While I can hardly imagine what it must be like for twins, in my experience, it’s a tricky thing to manage. My sister and I are opposites in the same way we are eternal mirrors into one another. We have different interests, share different looks, are on different levels of introversion and extroversion, and have completely different personalities. Yet, we often find some common ground in our humor, our appreciation for writing, and our ideas of fun. The only times our differences become our odds is when they create a feeling of insubordination. I often wish I had many of my sister’s outgoing personality traits or strong facial features, and suddenly begin to feel the imprisonment that comes with being my own person. Still, I realize at the end of the day that even without constant acknowledgment, we are our own separate selves, each unique in our own way, and remembered by our distinct personalities, even if we sometimes feel inferior to one another.

To be human is to want to stand out until we have done so unconventionally. Though, if I have learned anything by living with a sibling, it’s that you should be able to admire the favorable attributes of others, without ever questioning your own. Oldest, middle child, or the youngest- siblings are not destined to be defined by one another. Much like fingerprints, our personalities and little idiosyncrasies are never identical.