In 2015, my older sister was accepted to New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, a highly prestigious and highly selective arts school. Thus continued the chain of unreachable expectations, the bar raised a little higher. But that’s cool. It’s whatever.
In her junior year of high school, my sister was accepted to a summer film program with a scholarship. In my junior year of high school, I was rejected from the same film program. Now, in college, my mother never fails to remind me that she is on the “dean’s list,” whatever that is (I honestly don’t know, I don’t really pay much attention after hearing “dean’s list” for the fiftieth time). I am constantly updated on her wild successes – everyone in her class thought the dialogue she wrote was “Sorkin-esque,” she got accepted into a comedy group, also did you know she’s on the dean’s list? Even my own classmates remind me: “your sister is so cool”; “she’s literally living my dream life”; “I saw her video on Facebook, it was so good!”
But wait! This is only one of my sisters. I have another one too! Excellent news! I can squash this one under the sole of my shoe, grind her down using the force of my own impressive feats and winning personality!
Alas, it is not to be. This one has bangs and glasses with clear rims – a natural hipster. I have an unfortunate, accidental haircut and my contacts frequently make my eyes red. I have been told on more than one occasion that this sister is prettier and cooler than me. But it’s whatever, right? Hard work and dedication are what really push me ahead!
Wrong again. I have no dedication. My little sister does homework for hours while I fall asleep for the entire afternoon. She consistently attends ballet practice while I once skipped an entire week of swim because I was “sick” (I wasn’t, I was just on my period and didn’t want to go). I watch TV with my mom while eating dinner; she FaceTimes friends to study for tests. She is going to discover the cure for cancer; I am never going to hear about it because I am too lazy to read the news.
I wouldn’t say I’m an underachiever. Sometimes, I read books for fun. Also, I watched the entirety of Lost In Translation even though I thought it was boring and a little creepy, because I wanted to see what all the Sofia Coppola fuss was about. I would say that both of those things are, if not overachiever things, at least slightly-over-average achiever things.
Still, it’s hard not to feel eclipsed surrounded by overachievers. My older sister, once again, got into Tisch (I already said this, but it is a Big Deal). Also, did you know she’s on the dean’s list? My younger sister reads physics books for fun. Also would probably not only watch but enjoy Lost In Translation (it’s an hour-and-a-half-long ad for Tokyo and it’s sad and not funny and I don’t know what was happening between Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson but she is too young for him).
I am now applying to college. Among these colleges is NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. It is a reach. A very long reach. Like, I-probably-need-a-pole-or-something-of-equal-length-to-reach-this-reach. And the application process has been fraught with anxieties and self-doubt and comparisons.
And then. A few days ago, I saw the light – ironically, by not seeing light. My older sister’s NYC apartment has no natural light in the living room. Natural light is very important to me. According to Chip and Joanna Gaines, my personal idols, it really opens up a space. This space was not opened up. Also, the towels didn’t properly dry and outside smelled like hot trash steam and urine. I sat on my sister’s paint couch and marathoned Friends and I realized that college doesn’t matter. Everyone has small apartments with no natural light and urine smell and damp towels and boring afternoons filled with Friends. That won’t change whether I attend Tisch or clown school.
People will always eclipse me. My sisters will always be better than me (in some respects, let’s not get crazy here; I can sleep the longest out of any of us, hands down). But the only reason their eclipsing me will ever matter is if I care about it. And I don’t really, anymore. There are a million ways to be successful.
So what if my sisters are better than me sometimes? My older sister clearly isn’t that cool, her living room has no natural light. And my younger sister spilled water on her laptop just today, what an idiot.
My two sisters eclipse me sometimes. But who cares. They are also uncool and clumsy and don’t know how to properly hang towels so as to ensure that they evenly dry.
Also, I’m pretty cool too. My older sister may be on the dean’s list, but I just learned how to perfectly hard-boil an egg. One of these skills is useful for basic human survival. Hint: it’s my thing.