Culture x

When your sister is cooler than you that’s one thing. But when she’s younger than you? That’s a different story.

Losing the Sibling Rivalry

Sister, Sister

When your sister is cooler than you that’s one thing. But when she’s younger than you? That’s a different story.

By Danielle Wilkinson, Purdue University


I think I was 14 when I realized my sister was cooler than I was.

My moment of realization came right before I graduated 8th grade. Gabrielle asked me who I was going to stay in touch with from our middle school, and I told her it would probably be just my five best friends, because they were the only ones I really hung out with. She looked at me as if I had deleted an episode of “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” off the DVR and said, “You mean you’re not friends with everyone in your grade?”

Granted, we went to a small private school that had thirty students in each grade, so it was definitely possible to be friends with everyone. I was still put off by the comment though, because she was claiming that she was friends with everyone in her grade. And thinking back on the year, I realized that she was; they all adored her. She always knew exactly what to say, was always front-and-center in school plays and was hugely popular. I was just the socially awkward, pimple-faced 8th grader with five friends.

Still, my middle school epiphany was only the first of many struggles I would have to endure being related to someone as cool as her. Here’s what you can expect when your younger sibling is cooler than you are.

1. They Always Have Plans 

Gabrielle likes to be home as little as possible during the weekend. Her Fridays and Saturdays are always so packed to the point that she gets home every night for her 12:00 am curfew at 11:59. Between going to the movies, to dinner with friends, or out to concerts, birthdays or sports games, I barely get to see her at all. Usually the lingering smell of weed on her clothing from the night before or an empty coke bottle are the only evidence I have that she’s still alive, until I finally see her Sunday night. And when I do finally see her, our exchanges usually go something like this:

Me: “Hey I missed you this weekend! Tell me about that concert last night.”

Her: “Yeah…um, maybe tomorrow. I have homework.” Then she goes on to slam her door in my face.

There are even times I have to lie to my parents and confirm that Gabrielle was indeed at that Waffle House down the street instead of at her best friend’s older boyfriend’s apartment across town.

Unlike my sister, my weekends usually consist of fluffy blankets, Netflix and my boyfriend John. Okay, Papa John. I’m not ashamed. Some weekends I can find a friend to see a movie with me, but honestly I’m lucky if even my parents even want to hang out with me. But John can always be relied on for non-judgmental company.

2. Everyone Gravitates to Them

I’m convinced that Gabrielle emits her own gravitational pull, because every time I check out her Facebook she’s attracted more people to her. When you’re cool like her, everyone wants to be your friend; she barely has to try.

Since we look similar though, this can be an issue. For the two years that we were in high school together, people would call me from a distance or tap me on the shoulder thinking I was her, before openly displaying their disappointment when I wasn’t. It was only really annoying when a cute guy would come up to me. We would have an entire conversation.

I would be beaming, thinking we were connecting, and then he would finally ask, “Do you know where Gabby is?”

In high school my name changed from Danielle to “Gabby’s sister,” because for some reason, if you have a cool sister, people only care about your real name if they meet you first. Even my friends started wanting to be friends with her. They would say things like, “We should go shopping with Gabby” or “What type of music is your sister listening to?” or “What’s Gabby’s Snapchat?” I even had a few friends who treated her as if she were the Beyoncé of high school, freaking out if she said hi to them or raving if she “liked” their Instagram photos.

3. They Make Everything Look Effortless

Three tests, a group presentation, peer leadership meeting and church group mentoring all in one week. No problem. It’s never a problem for her. Somehow she finds the time to be involved in all of the extracurricular activities she does, maintain all her friendships and still be a straight “A” student.

She’s also the star athlete in our family. When we were younger we played soccer at the recreational level before deciding to try out for the travel teams. The tryouts were brutal. It was evident that I couldn’t handle it, nor could my lungs. I kept fumbling over the ball and getting my passes intercepted.

Gabrielle, however, was a natural. She plowed people down on the field and scored several goals in the group scrimmage. I got the call a week later saying I didn’t make it onto even the lowest level travel team. Gabrielle, on the other hand, was selected for the gold team, the team with the highest skill level in her age group, a team she is still a part of today. She also made the Varsity team for our high school as a freshman and was given more game time than most of the seniors. Did I mention she was voted captain for both teams?

My parents definitely went to more of her soccer games than mine because she actually won her games. That was around the time I decided soccer maybe wasn’t my thing and did cheerleading instead. I guess those who can play soccer, do, and those who can’t, cheer.

4. They’re More Experienced

Although my sister is a full two years younger than I am, she had her first job, first kiss and first alcoholic beverage all before me. She even got her first speeding ticket before me. It’s not that I regret not having a speeding ticket, it’s the fact that she even had the nerve to get another first before me that upsets me.

The only firsts I beat her to were the firsts I was already guaranteed. I was the first to hit puberty, which also made me the first to get giant zits on my face, and the first to have my uterus torn apart by period cramps. I was the first to take the ACT, but of course Gabrielle actually beat me to the SAT. She was chosen as one of those 12-year old prodigies that can take the SAT early. For what reason? I don’t know, maybe to show the world again just how intelligent she is.

When you have a sibling who shines so bright, it’s easy to feel like you’re living in the shadows. But let me be clear, I love my sister dearly. Asking her to not be cool would be like asking anyone else not to breathe. It’s who she is and I accept that. And she accepts the people around her who are wild, quiet, chatty, weird or hopelessly uncool, like me. And to me, that’s the coolest thing about her.

Leave a Reply