Feeling Pressure from Older Siblings

Three siblings, all attending Brown University. Coming from a family of high expectations, my parents expect nothing less than an A, countless extracurricular opportunities, and more than eight AP classes during high school. While this may only be my first year at Oakton, I am already beginning to feel the pressure and stress of living up to my family’s name. However, this a prevalent feeling – almost all younger siblings feel as if they are living in their siblings’ shadows at one point or another. The only way to overcome this pressure is by identifying your own strengths, and ultimately recognizing how you are your own unique, individual person.


To begin, there are both negative and positive effects to this sibling competition. Of course, the struggles include constant comparison, high standards, and overwhelming stress or pressure. Yet, there are also beneficial aspects to this. While you may feel pressure living up to it, siblings pave the way for success and guide you through school or life in general. They are qualified to offer you advice, assist you in difficult topics and provide you something to look up to. Even with their exceptional academic and athletic achievements, they set standards that ultimately cause you to reach higher and put more effort into school than you would’ve without them.


However, it is critical to not only look at your siblings’ successes, but also discover your own. Every person has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, even different from those you are related to. While you may be influenced by activities and interests that your siblings did, it is also beneficial to branch out and discover your own.  This will set you on the path to expressing your individuality and ultimately discover your true self. Certain family members will have specific things that they are more skilled at than you, but there will also be areas that you thrive in that they weren’t capable of. So, instead of being down about having a lower GPA than your sibling, try to focus on your own personal abilities and positive attributes.


While living up to your sibling may be stressful at times, try and make an effort to change your perspective. Even if others around you put pressure on you, this is your life and you shouldn’t have to feel like you are living in someone else’s shadow. You, like everyone in the world, have your own strengths and talents that should be recognized and appreciated. While siblings may set standards and aid you in developing goals for yourself, you are not them. Remember to try the best you can, and if even if you don’t reach the same level as your brother or sister, at least you know that you tried your hardest.