Living in a shadow

With a sibling, one has to endure the pressure and the pain that comes with comparisons and competition. I have an older brother. He helps me. He guides me. He cares for me. But he also oppresses me.

Yes, he oppresses me. Both indirectly and directly. I lived a peaceful, tranquil childhood with my brother. There was no competition, nor comparisons. I was able to express my talents appropriately without feeling obligated to impress anyone. With this freedom, I was able to appreciate the joy that came with knowing my ability to do something that others weren’t able to.

Then education came along. In my primary days, I used to surpass everyone in my set. With this, I earned the gratitude that I wanted from impressing my parents. However, as I grew up, my brother developed both his talents and his knowledge. As school became more difficult for me, I began to become incredibly envious of my brother. This envy that I had prevented me from developing myself. My focus was all on him, rather than on my studies. And with the help of my parents, I was never able to stop doing so.

Most of the time, I feel that I am a failure. With every award that I make an effort to attain, my brother already possesses one twice as better. For instance, in secondary, I obtained an award for being the best at physics. It was an award that was meant to be handed out during a ‘parents visiting day’, which my parents rarely attend. However, they attended this one. Not for me, but for my brother. At that time he had already left the school and had completed his exams. And, due to his intelligence, he obtained ‘Best in Africa in English Literature’. As I saw my father walk up to the podium and receive the certificate that had my brother’s name embedded on it, I felt my heart drop down to the bottom of my feet. The one time that I feel happy about my accomplishment, my brother, who wasn’t even around, had to ruin it. It hurt.

Every day I am reminded how much better my brother is. Usually, I am influenced to analyze the areas that I feel that I do best at. Once I finish, I am constantly assured that I’m a failure. No matter how hard I try I will never be his equal. No matter how hard I tried, I will never escape his shadow.


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