If you have ever prepared for a journey, you know that magic happens when you are joined with like minded travelers. I was blessed early in life to be gifted a sister and a brother. As I previously explained, we are very close in age. While I’m certain this was a nightmare for my parents (think diapers x3, college x3) on many fronts, we as kids loved it! I had built-in playmates from the beginning. While I know many kids fuss and fight with their siblings, that is not a memory that I recall. Perhaps my parents would tell a different version of the story, but I saw my brother and sister as teammates, confidants and co-consipirators. We spent countless hours building hallway forts, creating backyard clubs, running the neighborhood and destroying dad’s yard with trash bag slip-and-slides.
My sister was one grade behind me in school and my brother was two grades below her. This meant that we were all in high school together and, yes, my parents had three kids at Baylor at the same time. While I can’t image that from my vantage point of today, as one who had the experience from the child’s perspective, it was genius. I had built-in friend groups. I always had someone with which to watch the current TV craze. When a new movie came out, no need to phone a friend, I had one.
The challenge came in our personalities. I am, by nature, more introverted than my siblings. I would rather have 2 best friends that know everything about me than 10 people to hang out with on Friday night. My sister, on the other hand, has never met a stranger. We can recall a junior high acquaintance and not only does she remember, but chances are good that she knows someone who knows someone that is still in touch with them. When you combine our natural personality traits with our age difference, I often could be found with more friends a grade behind me that my own age.
First world problems, right? Sure. But to the ever active magnifying mind of a perfectionistic, hormonal teenage girl EVERYTHING.IS.A.CRISIS. Especially when you have to go on grade specific class outings or worse when you compare yourself to your fun, easy going, friend magnet of a sister. With time and maturity and perspective, I have gained a since of belonging in my own skin, but in the advent of my birth into independence, my self-esteem and confidence to build and sustain my own friend group was minimal. I had two of the best friends in the world in my brother and sister, but looking beyond the walls of our house, connectedness was scarce.
While many look to their childhood for long lasting classmate relationships, tales of adolescent adventure and treasured life shaping memories, my junior high and high school days are often recalled much like a dark night with small bursts of starlight and faint glowing memories. I was scared, insecure, anxious and terribly introverted, which in my active and busy family provided for many major meltdowns. In this season, I was convinced that I was broken. People in this kind of family are happy. Why do I feel so overwhelmed?
As I prepared to launch into the birth of my independence, my constant companions were those given to me in birth. To this day, I thank every lucky star around for the love that can only come from a sibling that sees all of the worst days and still comes back for more.