Graduation: A Sibling’s Perspective

Emily Carpenter, Sophomore Writer

This marking period marks a bittersweet moment for me. The fourth quarter of my sophomore year and the fourth quarter of my brother, Ethan’s, senior year. I would have never thought that his departure from high school would ignite such regret and pride in me at the same time. On the exterior of our sibling relationship, people see a tight bond that motivates each other to always bring out our best, which is true to some extent.However, I have always felt overshadowed by his presence. Healthy sibling rivalry is an amazing motivator for any family, however good old fashioned sibling rivalry takes a turn when you seem to be masked by your sibling. We play the same instruments, compete in the same sports, go to the same school, and have most of the same ingenuity. I hear constantly how amazing he is at football, soccer, and track. A true all-american athlete. I see how likeable he is and how he talks to people with ease. We are exactly seventeen months apart, meaning that the gap between us is incredibly small and our skill levels should be at about the same frequency. Living vicariously through your brother is cute until your about eight, after that it kind of starts to get old.


I have grown up watching Ethan score goals, sprint into infinity, run down a person from the other side of the field, and I’ve witnessed the fear in his opponent’s eyes when Ethan comes barreling down the field. When I got into middle school, I played my own positions, learned my own songs, and harnessed my own energy. When I got into high school, I joined the football team, a decision that turned my soccer reputation to dust. It was a fresh start. Then, I sprained my MCL. I was out for the entirety of my freshman football season. I was eager to get back on the field and shine in the sport that my brother would never dream of joining. I will never forget the time I was at the Wildewood pool with the football team on crutches, the first time they saw me since the injury. Ethan showed up with me, and the attention of the coaches and players all went to him, his size and confidence prominent. They asked him to join the team. Soon, he started kicking for the team, and was the center of attention for the sport I thought he would never do. Bitter is an incredible understatement to describe how I felt his first month on the team. Obviously, he kicked farther than me, and I didn’t think I would ever forgive him for taking something that I wanted to claim.


After my coldness towards him subsided, I found that having him on the team with me was quite comforting when I found myself lost or alone. I could watch what he was doing, try to mimic it, and take mental notes to get better. It always seems that when I look at him from a spectators point of view, completely unbiased and awestruck, I am more impressed than I am angry at what he does on the field. People still talk about the varsity Great Mills game my freshman year. As any rivalry game goes, the bleachers were packed and rowdy. The whole game got aggressive fast, and Ethan was no exception. One player on the opposing team deemed it necessary to punch Ethan in the chest to bring him down, and immediately regretted it as Ethan picked him up and slammed him into our bench and onto the track. I swear that kid skidded like a stone across water. It was painful to watch but amazingly satisfying at the same time. It’s times like those when whatever sort of pathetic anger and animosity I have towards Ethan diminishes, and I realize that he is just an honest kid that works for what he strives for, a quality I could learn from.


In many instances, Ethan has helped me develop not only as a kicker and goalkeeper, but he has also helped augment me socially. I struggle with talking to people that I am not comfortable with, so public outings can be stressful for me. I have trouble paying for what I want at the cash register (thank God for self-checkout), ordering what I want to eat, and talking to coaches or teammates in conversation all in fear of what they think of me. Ethan used to help me avoid my fear by paying or ordering or talking, but now encourages me to do it myself, and gives me a few suggestions on how to do it. I try not to use him as my crutch or safeguard 24/7, however, I always feel more assured and sanguine when he is present while I do something out of my comfort zone. At soccer games, I look towards him and my dad for assurance and support, at football games I turn to see if he is in the front row because I want him to be the first to see if something incredible happens.


His track and soccer record should be mentioned as well, considering as a thrower nobody comes close to the distance that he throws. He earned the achievement of most outstanding player as well as an all-smac honorable mention. As far as soccer goes, he made a junior olympic soccer team and currently plays for an undefeated Calvert travel team. I am excited and nervous to see what the future holds for him as an electrical engineer, especially since he will be doing work I can’t fathom. Being the younger sibling is a journey that never ends, and can prove to be an expedition of trust and mutual respect. Being the younger sibling does not mean you have to sit on the bench and witness your older sibling trump what you can do, it means you need to be motivated and headstrong enough to challenge them and compete for whatever glory or victory you set your mind to. I may not be as strong or intimidating, but I can be just as determined to win, and those are the characteristics that my brother divulges in me.


Not only is having a sibling about patience, but it’s also about understanding. Understanding that both of you have respect for one another, but also understanding that you guys inherit different strengths that push you forward in life. Where your sibling lacks, you may excel, and where you lack your sibling may succeed. There is no right or wrong answer to being a sibling, and experiencing a sense of inferiority or subordinance does not mean that you are lesser, it means you have to work harder to prove that what people see in your family they can see in you. Walking alongside your sister or brother is a remarkable feeling, and reaching goals and growing not only as an athlete or scholar but also as an individual can personify your togetherness and teamwork as siblings. Amongst all of the crowds telling you where to go, what to do, and how to do it, your sibling should be the one uplifting you in order to watch you grow into a spectacular being. It may sound corny, but in all honesty, I don’t think I have ever had a more amazing mentor, tutor, and best friend to accompany me in my journey.