Test Subject | Teen Ink

Test Subject

August 28, 2022
By beter BRONZE, La Canada Flintridge, California
beter BRONZE, La Canada Flintridge, California
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Initially, I found it strange that my parents often referred to my older brother as a “test subject” for my future. But I eventually realized that this wasn’t said to offend him or to make me seem more important than him, but rather to recognize the significance he holds in my life. Since he does everything before me, my brother had to suffer through clubs or a teacher's class, while I was able to avoid them. The impact my brother has had on my life makes me see him as my hero, as he continues to help my mental health and gets me through stumbles in life. 

My first steps into high school were exciting yet nerve wracking because I knew from then on my extracurriculars and grades will be seen and valued by colleges. This sudden shift was difficult for me, and my brother noticed it all. During that time, he was beginning his senior year and was finished with all the stressful subjects from junior year, while I was studying for my very first algebra exam. Rather than just barging into my room and sitting down next to me, he let me decide when I needed help. He didn’t want to bother me, because having someone sit next to me and micromanage my every move makes me feel like everything I’m doing is wrong, leading to more stress and a feeling of distrust, even though it may not be his intention. Knowing this, he would leave me chips and snacks by my door so I can pick it up whenever I feel like taking a break. It helps me understand that, rather than coming in boldly, he’s there to help whenever I need. This subtle notion helps me stay confident while doing homework and practice.

The workload was another major struggle for me during high school. Homework from tutors and advanced classes began piling up, and I was often stressed about different projects and deadlines. And not just that, there are also competitions such as AMC, a math competition that my parents value a lot, which needs plenty of practice every single day. Even though I like the alone time my brother gives me to figure things out by myself, when I’m stuck on something I can’t figure out, it’s reassuring to always have somebody who’s willing to help me. He would help me memorize formulas, explain different terms to me, and point out traps in different questions. And with his reputation as the best math student in our school, he can help me and explain topics and questions in a way that’s simple to understand. 

Because I prioritize getting a really good score on competitions as well as good grades in school, I could stay at my desk for hours without realizing. During these times of stress, I become almost like a workaholic, trying to finish assignments despite how long it may take or how late into the night it may go. This is because I understand that all of this practice, although stressful, is also valuable for my future. My brother challenges the extremes of my hard-working mentality by convincing––or even dragging––me downstairs to exercise. He knows that high school needs lots of effort, so he convinces me to give my brain some rest. Kicking around a soccer ball slowly helps my doubts and worries fade, so having my brother there who can see that I’m working with an unhealthy schedule is very helpful. He helps me pace myself, and that ensures I always keep my assignments organized and finish on time.

We have to recognize people who support us in our lives, and for me, it was my brother. My brother taught me there is a difference between intellect and wisdom, that there’s simply being smart versus using that knowledge to interact and help others, and the latter is what makes a hero. Smaller heroic figures in our lives are often overshadowed by major figures who have made an impact on everyone. Yet many of these smaller, everyday heroes have more influence on our lives than the major ones do. His “testing” has created a path for my parents to lead me on and shaped who I am. Without him, my study habits, class choices, and where I’m headed in the future would never be the same. So thank you, Jack, for guiding me here, and giving me this experience I would’ve never had without a brother.

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