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Siblings have the usual rivalries, but the love between siblings is usually a given, even if it might not always be expressed. A letter to a teen sibling.
I remember the day you came into the world. You were a tiny, helpless little being whose cheeks reddened as it cried loudly. You needed Mom for everything. Right now, you’re a strong teen with overwhelming strength and a wonderful mind. What a transition you have made through the years! From having all of your affairs taken care of by Mom and Dad to the stage at which you learn to form your own opinions: you have grown!
You probably don’t know that your ‘opinion’ is something you picked up from your surroundings. You may have heard someone upholding a view or rejecting it vehemently; you may end up adopting it as your own without examining its consequences.
That was how I once turned homophobic. The noise of other people’s opinions was so loud that it clouded my thinking, my discretion. Wherever I turned, I heard those voices spiting and spurning an entire community of people for being ‘sinful’. It took me very long to realize that the owners of these voices had never once met a member of the LGBTQ community. By then, I had hurt a lot of people and dented my image as a human being.
I’m not the best person for sage advice considering that our age gap can be counted on fingers. Trust me Champ, letting hatred go unchecked comes with a price. Line your precious mind with a filter that will separate unfounded notions from logical truth, hatred from love, opinion from fact. I write this simply because a good number of those that try to influence you needn’t have the best of intentions. Don’t let your beautiful mind be corrupted by another person’s hate and inexperience.
What you’re hearing needn’t always be right. It’s easy and lazy to give in and let those voices solidify into your opinions. Think of what will happen to you as you are merely reduced to the vessel of another’s thoughts! It is the precursor to you becoming an individual without a personal identity. I dread to even dream of that happening to you!
Ask yourself if you need to believe what you’re hearing. If you think it viable and practical, filter it further.
When it comes to a hatred of the unknown, ask yourself if its necessary to develop such blinkers. Meet those who are not like you, talk to them and know their thoughts and feelings. It will change you.
Sometimes, it wouldn’t hurt to replace your electronic device with human contact. I don’t say that you must talk to dangerous people and end up in a quagmire. It is only when you talk to different people will you realize that your reality is not the ultimate one. Variety is beautiful and difference is what defines us as human beings.
Also, just how can you interact with someone when you have already made premature judgments about them? So, shed all inhibition and the excess baggage that others have loaded onto your young shoulders. Walk free and fearlessly.
You are seeing a lot of change within and around you. Like clay that’s being squeezed and molded, your body is undergoing changes. I may poke fun at how you look or how you sound (trust me, it is harmless older sibling snobbery!). It doesn’t mean you should be ashamed of the way you look.
I guess Mom and Dad have filled your ears with warnings on how the world is a competitive place and that you must always be on your best. Hold on to that piece of advice because a good number of those that pass negative comments about your appearance and personality feast on your doubt and inhibition just so they can feel better about themselves.
Don’t give in to unnecessary criticism and gaslighting. Be aware that you are precious and CANNOT BE COMPARED TO ANYONE OR ANYTHING. There was not, isn’t and will never be anyone like you in the whole wide world. Be yourself and explore the depth of your potential. If you need a fist bump or a shoulder to lean on, come over to the sibling who’s just a few more years experienced than you. You have my love and unflinching support all your life.
Now, the only thing binding you and me is family.
We are two different human beings, Champ. If anyone is trying to establish that I am in any way better than you, turn a deaf ear towards them. I don’t need competition from you just like the sand doesn’t need competition from the sea. I feel empowered, not threatened by your growth as a human being. That’s what makes us siblings and not rivals.
My fingers were locked with yours as we arm wrestled during our childhood. Now, they’re patting your shoulders and prodding you onwards. Truly, I’m proud of your courageous self, the determination with which you traverse through the complications of adolescence. You will make it out of that baptism by fire and join the rest of humanity. In times of trouble, remember ‘This too shall pass’ and you will become a better human being by experiencing the turbulence that the cosmos will have to throw at your face. Take it fearlessly. Open yourself to experience.
Most of all, remember that your strength should never be exercised at the expense of another person’s weakness. Respect the right of every human being over their bodies, their emotions and all that makes them who they are. You display strength through respect and not condescension. Be strong in all that you do. I needn’t remind you that you have absolutely no right to discriminate people on grounds of gender, religion, caste, creed or any other kind of social marker.
Lots of love,
Your older sibling
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Image source: By User Jared (private collection) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons