My seven-years-younger sister is in town this week and it has been wonderful. I feel like I need to repeat that because I am not quite sure I believe it – but it has. Looking at her, a young 21, I see a lot of myself at that point in my life. We honestly couldn’t be more different – where I left home as soon as I could manage, she is still living there; where I have hopped from job to job and from path of study to path of study, she is about to complete her Bachelor’s and has plans to both study to teach Irish Dance and go to Law School; where I look back on my past with the eyes of a cynic – she still sports her rose-coloured glasses.
Up until this week I felt both sorry for and jealous of my kid sister. Sorry for her in a protective older sibling way because I thought she simply didn’t know any better and jealous because I thought she had gotten all the chances. What never, until now, occurred to me is how very different we are as people. Sure, we share a unique pattern of neuroses – but underneath that we are opposites, which explains how our lives have taken such very divergent paths.
It is in seeing that, unclouded by the old patterns of judgment, that has brought me clarity today. She still bugs me in that kid-sister way, but I feel less compelled to help her “fix” herself – or that she needs any fixing at all. I suppose that I wanted her to be as broken as I am, so I could flatly lay the blame somewhere. But she isn’t, sure she’s shy and doesn’t have nearly the confidence in herself that she deserves – but that will come, she is young and smart and talented and actually very, very, with-it. And I am certainly no expert on the subject of self-confidence.
For so long I have projected my own shortcomings onto others – I am always ready to dispense advice and cast judgment. Suddenly, I see clearly that I need to turn that inward and cast that judgment on myself, and more helpfully, dispense some worthy advice and then take it.