Siblings have a strange relationship. They compete for their parents’ attention and strive to define themselves as individuals, all while forging a bond that is stronger than any friendship. But what happens to this unique dynamic when an older sibling moves out of the house to begin his or her own life? Through my experience, I found that the separation between siblings may seem initially dismal but has a silver lining. Time hurtles on and we must accept the changes it brings.
I have two older sisters, Yuko and Meg, both of whom are currently attending a university very far from home. When my oldest sister Yuko moved out, I wasn’t exactly heartbroken. Since there was a wide gap between our ages, she had always been a more distant figure to me. I was curious of what college was like and saw her as a guinea pig to test the waters for us younger siblings. Plus, I still had my second oldest sister Meg to look to for guidance. But when Meg became a senior in high school, I dreaded her departure. She was my ally and mentor from the day I was born. Whenever we would go to school or watch Netflix together, the fact that we wouldn’t be doing this next year would be in the back of my mind. I began to miss her before she even left. When she was accepted into the university of her dreams, I was so happy and in awe of her. Yet I couldn’t help selfishly resenting the school for taking her away from me.
On the night Meg left, I stayed up to help clean her incredibly cluttered room and see her off. We exchanged a rare hug and I waved goodbye as she was driven to the airport by our parents. Standing barefoot in our driveway and staring into the dark and empty road, I was hit by how surreal this all was. Her childhood was over and the end of my own was impatiently waiting for me in my near future. Her leaving signified the end of an amazing era in which we went through countless formative events together. I imagined a bleak future in which my sisters and I grew into adults in separate places and became closer with other people. Maybe we would drift apart to the point where we only gathered to attend our parents’ funerals, at which we would barely recognize each other.
When my older sisters moved out, I was forced to see just significant they were to my life. I used to go to Meg when I needed advice on how to study well and get high grades, things she obnoxiously excelled at. When we were younger, I would listen to her talk about her world and be convinced that she was the coolest and smartest person I knew. Now the house is quiet without Meg’s maniacal laughter coming from her room or Yuko’s spontaneous bursts of Broadway tunes far too ambitious for her vocal range. I suddenly became the oldest child, a position I was not prepared for. My parents turned their attention to me since there were no longer more important kids to distract them.
But the effects of this situation are not all so bad. I can now “borrow” the clothes my sisters left behind without getting yelled at and can sing in the shower as loud as I please without having someone turn off the lights to make me stop. The attention I secretly craved from my parents when my sisters were their main priorities is finally mine. Without older sisters to influence me as much, I can do what I want to without fearing their judgment and learn to be more independent. Although our lives will not be as closely connected, my sisters and I still undoubtedly share a bond that cannot be duplicated with other people.
A few weeks after my older siblings moved out, I came to understand that it is natural for relationships to change. The years we spent together as children were short but that was what made it so valuable. And as we grow older, we have to be away from our family in order to become our own people. During this time, we do not stop being a family but simply spend our time in different places. I can still communicate with my sisters through pictures of our adorable pets and random GIFs found online. They are even a source of inspiration when school is getting to my head, as they show that there is something better after all this, if only I work hard enough for it. This is the end of the era in which we were all kids, yet is simultaneously the exciting start of a whole new era.