August 06, 2020
“Compe-sist-ion”: The Race You and Your Sister Never Sign Up For

One day your parent brings you a little sister, and society decides that she’ll be your competitor for life.

by Michiko Karlina
English
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I have two younger sisters. As a firstborn, I am only a year apart from one of them. For five years, we were raised like twins, until my other sister came along. My mother dressed us alike and we had the same stuff, albeit in different colors. My parents were entrepreneurs so they used to bring us to work and have us stick around.

Although we often got mistaken as a twin, we are actually polar opposites. Having totally different personalities, we fought a lot. And because we looked like a two-in-one package, people loved to compare us to each other. They pointed out that my sister was much better looking than I was, that I was the brainy one in the family, that I was darker and she was bigger, and so on. We were annoyed most of the time, but we let it pass.

I call this phenomenon a compe-sist-ion. You never signed up for it, but somehow you are in it. One day your parent brings you a little sister, and society decides that she’ll be your competitor for life. In this forced race, no one is really winning. Even if, for example, you are slightly better in school, they would still find your flaws. You may be smarter than your sister, but you are less attractive than her.

My mother, who is a single mother, knows a lot about comparisons. Being the only high school graduate among her four siblings who are all college graduates makes her more considerate about it. She believes each of her children is unique. She said that each of us had our own fortune. She loves to point out that I am a bad cook compared to my sister who excels in the kitchen, but that was about it. She is aware of our different traits, so she raised us dynamically.

When my sister went abroad for college, I was proud of her. My relatives would refer to her as the sister who went to college in Turkey, and me the one who studied at a state-owned university. Though I never resented it, I perceived it as a part of the compe-sist-ion. It affected me somehow in a way that my insecurity would flare up when I walked next to her.

Also read: 7 Types of Compliments That Aren't Really Compliments

Now that we’re adults, we no longer have to stay quiet when faced with these situations. My sister has grown to be outspoken and bold. She would talk back to anyone who compared us to each other, including elders: “Well, I am different than her. We are just doing our own thing and minding our own business.” On the other hand, I would just laugh it off because responding to comments like that is too energy-consuming for me.

When two sisters walk together into a room, they often have to deal with the comparison. Gigi and Bella Hadid might have experienced the same too, especially being in the same industry. Who wore it better? they woud ask. Which sister is richer? They are in a compe-sist-ion they’ve never asked for because the media love to pit sisters against each other.

My sister is 25 and I am 26 this year. We used to resemble each other but now people can see the distinct differences. She loves to wear things that looks good to her; I love to wear things that feel comfortable. In another word, you can tell me being me and her being her. Our identity is unique. I acknowledge her strength and weakness.

Being judged over who is better than whom doesn’t   hurt our relationship at all – we don’t get jealous of each other. I am not bothered by her achievement or talent. She is smart and pretty. Good for her! Still, it hurts our individual feelings. Just because we came out from the same womb does not mean we exist to compete with each other. We may have similar facial features and identical speech accent, but we are both doing our own thing and it’s beautiful. We are our own person.

So, sign us out of this compe-sist-ion. Thank you and bye!

Michiko Karlina is an International Relations graduate who is recently into herbal drinks. She used to hate ginger but it has grown on her.