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Surviving My Sisters This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     When striving for success, some people have toovercome obstacles such as physical disabilities, discrimination or poverty. Butnot me, no sir. I had to overcome being the youngest of the Smith Girls. You maysay, so what? What sort of disability is that? But you don't understand. TheSmith Girls are sort of a legacy in my small town. There are three of us, eachtwo years apart: Amanda, Theresa and Laura. We are all intelligent with blondhair and blue eyes. Sweet girls.

But I didn't like being a Smith Girl,not one bit. My problem with being the youngest can be summed up in aconversation I had with a nice old lady at my church.

"Oh, the threeof you, you're such nice, nice girls."

"Thank you, Mrs.Rueman."

"No, really. Your sisters are so pretty, and sothin!"

"Yeah."

"You're really nothing likethem. I wonder how that happened."

There it was. I didn't know whatto say, so I just nodded pleasantly, though I felt tears coming. So tall and thin... I wonder how you happened? The worst thing was, I asked myself that questionall the time. I knew I wasn't adopted because I had seen the hospital photos. Icame from the same gene pool. So what defect had caused me? I wasn't thin, Iwasn't particularly pretty, and there was nothing I could do that my sisterscouldn't do better.

It certainly didn't get better as I got older. I neverhad a teacher who hadn't taught one of my sisters, and they would always makecomments like, "Oh, the last of the line! Are you just like your sisters?They're such wonderful students."

People were always comparing me tomy sisters, so I compared myself to them. I never came out on top of anycategory: Theresa was smarter, Amanda was prettier, and the list went on and on.I began to feel as though I had to try harder, I had to be good at something. Butnot just good ... the best.

I first tried to be different in fourthgrade, when I decided to play the clarinet instead of the flute, like my sisters.But this wasn't exactly a daring act of rebellion, so I started dancing, singingand acting, things my sisters never did. The best part was, they never even tried- and if they never tried, I was guaranteed to be better.

As the yearspassed, I did do it better. Not a particularly striking accomplishment since Iwas comparing apples to oranges, but I could sing, dance and act better than theycould. In school, though, I still felt I was walking in the center of the troddenSmith path. I was on my way to becoming drum major of the marching band, aposition held by both Amanda and Theresa. I was going to become editor of thepaper; Theresa had been editor for two years. I was in all the same activities,taking all the same classes. And worst of all, both my sisters had beenvaledictorians. I was only number two. It was a nightmare.

Sophomore yearpassed, and Theresa went to college. I was the lone Smith at my school, and Iwas in power. Editor of the paper, drum major - I was trying so hard to do itright, but things were not going well. I felt like I was just not goodenough.

But time passed, and softened those feelings. With the help offriends, I separated myself from my sisters. I began to think of them less as Isaw them less frequently. Few people at school even remembered them. I felt likeI didn't have to be a Smith Girl anymore, I could just be myself.

Soon Ibecame a senior. I still had all the same responsibilities, but I didn't havethat deadly internal pressure. I relaxed, and had confidence that I could dothings well in my own special way.

I have stopped beating myself up overdoing things the way people expect me to. Instead, I am doing things my way. Mybiggest challenge was to overcome the Smith Girl stigma and stop comparingmyself to my sisters. Although it may have taken awhile, I am now my own person.And you know what? I like myself a lot better that way.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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