Emerging From The Shadows Term Paper

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She stands a staggering 5 feet 2 inches tall, weighs a massive 95 pounds,

and has short, brown hair and brown eyes. I see my older sister Leslie.

Others see a model of perfection. Don't get me wrong, my sister and I are

close and have been inseparable since birth. My mother has kept pictures

of us ranging from the time we shared a playpen as babies to just recently

at Leslie's graduation. For seventeen years, we've shared every life

experience imaginable, and we've dealt with the trials and tribulations

that come with growing up. But in September, she left home to attend the

University of California at Irvine, leaving me to face life alone.

However, it gave me the opportunity to live life by myself as Ryan, instead of Leslie's little brother.

Since the beginning, I have gone to the same school as Leslie, and almost

every year I got stuck with a teacher that she had had the previous year.

Being only eleven months younger than my sibling made the memory of

Leslie, being the bright student that she is, easier for my teachers to

recall. Every September for eleven years I was greeted by all of my

teachers with the same "Oh you're Leslie's little brother." This was

really no big deal. The following year, my fifth grade teacher said to

me, "Oh you're Leslie's little brother?" This normally did not faze me

since it happened to me several times before with different people, but

on this occasion, it was the same person. This upset me a little.

At first this association with my scholarly sister did not bother

me too much. If anything I found it beneficial because I believed that

it would help me build relationships with my teachers. But with each

passing year, the little comments and remarks literally ate away at my

identity. Comments like "You did good, but Leslie got a better grade

last year," can easily destroy a child's self-esteem. As I became older,

I started believing that I was not growing up as myself, but rather as

the product of someone else. It almost made me happy to see older

teachers leave and others take their place. Unfortunately, school made

up only half of the problem.

The other half occurred in the one place where it really should

not but often did: at home. What really personally offended me were the

comparisons made by my parents after every straight A report card,

MVP trophy, award or honor at graduation, or picture in the newspaper.

Seeing this, I tried my hardest to do well and earn the praise of my

parents, but what frustrated me the most was that no matter how hard I

tried, I always ended up on the short end of the stick.

It took a lot of time and many tears finally to realize that I had wasted

my time on such a trivial thought. Last year as Leslie filled out college

applications, everything suddenly clicked. I realized that she was

planning for her future, a new life by herself. I realized that everything

that happened to me was irrelevant and that, if anything, it can make me

stronger rather than hinder my chances for success. Her departure for

college gave me the opportunity to live up to my own standards instead of

hers. I was sixteen years old…I had just started my life.

I could easily say that I will always resent my sister for everything she has put me through, but I won't. If it weren't for her, I probably would not have had the revelation that I did that one fall evening. In a way, she toughened me up both intellectually and emotionally.

What started out as a burden in my life ended up defining it.

Word Count: 632

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