Individuality has always been a problem for me. Never have I felt completely and hundred-percent abut myself when looking in the mirror. Most of this began from the time of my early childhood to now. But in reality, who knows exactly who they truly are? My answer: adults.
I grew up in a hectic household that was filled with sibling disputes, loud laughter, and enough sarcasm to last someone a lifetime. Four other siblings, four opinions, successes, and failures, Yet, I was the youngest with no sight of the future as I was six years away from my youngest brother’s mistakes.
As a mother of five, my mom played referee between us all. As the baby, it often left me to watch my siblings make drastic and small mistakes with no clue of how things actually worked. When I was still watching Hannah Montana, my sister, Shulee, and brother, David, were off to college with about s much experience as I did with life at seven.
I remember sitting at the dinner table one night with all of my family wondering who I was gonna be… doctor, nurse, astrophysicist, or maybe a teacher? With all of my family headed towards life at a full blown sprint, I was on the sidelines, making notes, and praying I didn’t disappoint my loving, yet strict, parents.
People often viewed my family as intense, imitating, and freakishly smart, but I’ve never seemed to fit into that category. A black sheep for sure, My mom, Jennifer, is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met with no fear in anything she did, but raising her kids right. E often tried our best pleasing our mom when growing up in fear of seeing her piercing blue eyes, much like mine, stare back with disappointment. Though she’s not a mean woman, her expectation is higher than a kite flying on a windy day. When I was about three, I remember getting put into timeout for drawing on the way and crying not from regret, but from the punishment I received in front of my judgmental siblings.
My dad, however, is much different from my mom. His relaxed personality could bring anyone joy, but when he’s upset, the world seems to be tainted with a strange hue. Ive always been a daddy’s girl. No doubt. Though he stands relaxed most days, his high expectation never falters from standing tall right next to my mom’s.
Now, my siblings. Intimidating, flawed, judgmental, yet my role models. Even though my sister is one of my best friends, her opinion can be heard from miles away. From boy talk to my education, her booming voice has pushed me towards my eldest brother, Henry.
For many years, Henry was a brother, personal tormentor, father-figure, and friend packed into one. Intense. Out of all my siblings, I’ve taken Henry’s advice at the highest standard, even compared to the oldest sibling, Shulee. His roles in my life haven’t always been butterflies and rainbows. He’s my biggest and toughest credit.
From middle school to high school, my individual struggle has been at it’s highest, along with meeting my family’s looming expectation, and my brother’s very shiny/proud footsteps. Taking that into consideration, life has been hard to say the least, all self-inflicted, ironically.
Freshman year hit. And it definitely hit me back. New school, friends, responsibilities, and the huge presence of college just four years away. I had followed Henry’s exact schedule and tried to get perfect grades as all my siblings had done before me. Teachers knew me, expected my siblings, and didn’t get them. You see, I hated being compared to my seemingly perfect siblings, when I was anything but. My attitude changed into resentment when realization hit: I was undeniably miserable. Band was fun. School was okay. Journalism was there. But I still struggled with finding myself and my place in the unforgiving world everyone was brought in.
All of this changed the blistering year before my Sophomore year. I can still remember it like it was yesterday. Henry got married to his beautiful wife just three days prior, and this definitely didn’t help my feelings as the “baby” subside any further. When he sat me down, I had no clue what it was about, so bring on the sweating! I thought I was for sure in trouble. He had noticed my stress that Freshman year had brought and wanted to put an end to the high expectation that seemed to choke my happiness.
His point was clear: get happy and find something that fits you to take away the misery of trying to be him. I was in a state of shock. My whole life had been focused on pleasing others, and now I had free reign for my last two years of high school…what freedom I had.
At this point in my life experience, I still had no earthly idea what I was gonna do or who I was now gonna be, but the sense f freedom gave me reassurance that jolted me into a full sprint towards the future. I wasn’t going to fail as easily if my expectations were my own.
It was now Sophomore yer and I felt free, true to myself, and excited to join something new, The first thing that came to me was meat judging. Yes, I know it sounds strange, but it’s now my life and I enjoy every bit of it.
The FFA was never an option for anyone in my family, until I decided to join. Best. Choice. Ever. Joining the organization allowed me to find something I love, gain new friends, and find myself and what I really enjoyed, rather than trying to follow footsteps that weren’t my own.
Now, I am me. Strong, me, myself, and I. Finally, I have found the meaning of individuality.