Any person, oldest or youngest, can tell you there’s pros and cons to having siblings. There’s pros to being the oldest (which, as the oldest of four I can attest to), and also cons (which I can also attest to).
Whether you’re the guinea pig first-born, or the stereotypical forgotten middle child, we can all agree there is no such thing as having perfect siblings. But there’s one thing we all share in common regardless of our age, and it’s the lessons that come with being born and forcibly adapted into a team you didn’t choose.
Sacrifice is Inevitable
This goes without saying but when you’re born into an unwarranted pair, group of four, etc. you learn pretty quickly that things won’t always go your way.
There’s no way my younger sister and I are going to be able to relax when our brothers are in town, but like many group settings, you realize that compromise and compassion is often the best alternative than revolting, and that you’re a nicer sibling that you actually realize.
A natural lesson that comes with having siblings is understanding the importance of letting go. Letting go of that dessert you tried to save for later, only to find out your younger brother had it for a midnight snack. Sacrificing your Friday night to drive you younger sister to her middle school dance. Or learning that with time and maturity, the sacrifice isn’t nearly as bad or dramatic as it used to be.
Don’t Be Afraid to Speak Up, or Shut Up
Like many older siblings, (especially older sisters), I’m guilty of being too bossy. I fully admit it – sometimes I let the age difference and extra years in the world get into my head, but what that’s taught me is the very important life lesson of learning how to speak up for my siblings when they don’t know how, and also how to be quiet when they don’t need me to speak for them.
Granted, there are some times where I’ll lend a hand to my siblings here and there, but with each passing year I’ve come to realize that they’re not so little anymore. (Though I’ll stand up for them if needed – no one bully’s my siblings unless it’s me)!
And it’s the same way in school, work, etc. Speaking up is valued in a team environment where collaboration and communication is essential for results, but stepping back is also essential in maintaining a positive relationship with those around you.
Forgiveness Goes a Long Way
Once, when I was eight, I got a new Rubik cube as a gift and kept it on a little cube stand on a bookshelf right by my bed. I didn’t touch it, solely because I liked it the way it was: organized, perfect, and finished. Until one day, I came home one day to see some had scrambled and messed it up.
It was definitely my brother, and being a five year old boy, he didn’t do a very good job at hiding the fact that he had snuck into my room to mess with it, unknowingly dismantling a puzzle he didn’t even know was a puzzle.
So I got mad; mad for probably a longer period of time than necessary, but as a third grader, this was something worth getting angry about.
I held a grudge and threatened him practically every chance I had that I’d do the same to his legos if he ever stepped foot in my room again.
It was a petty fight, and definitely something we look back and laugh at now, but it was a moment that taught me to forgive, despite how my own emotions may have presented themselves at first. What I didn’t realize 12 years ago was that something that small, really didn’t matter, and in the long run, there was far more I loved doing with my brother than fighting with him over a toy I didn’t even use.
The truth is, not everyone in your group in a class project, or your team at work, will always do what you necessary want or agree with, but holding a grudge only moves you backwards rather than forwards. Learn to value what’s important, and don’t let petty anger fester.
Forgiveness is difficult but not impossible, just like a Rubik’s cube.