Standing Out in a Big Family of Overachievers
Growing up in a family where every child is a success and no one can be alike is a struggle. I'm the eighth child of nine—and the youngest girl—and I always thought I had to hate someone if they were similar to me. Recently, I recognized how many lovely friendships I've missed out on because I was so obsessed with my own success.
Being the baby girl has its perks, but it also has its struggles. I am constantly teased because my family still somehow sees me as my 5-year-old self, instead of the young adult I am. Not to mention, the ridiculously high standards that everyone in my family has.
My parents achieved the quote-unquote American Dream™, and they both worked hard so we did not have to worry about many of the struggles they did. Because of their support, there’s now a doctor, dentist, business owner, and lawyer in the family. The rest of us are still too young to have “real” jobs, but the strange part is that we all want to be artists, musicians, or writers. Maybe it's a way to rebel against the first half of the family. Who knows.
Despite my family being supportive of my chosen career path, there is still an undertone that implies I should be the most successful at whatever I do. This mentality caused me to see everyone as a competitor with the potential to interfere with my success. I even found myself disliking my best friend at certain points, even though she’s not interested in the same career as me.
This year, my views shifted. I came to realize that if I stop comparing myself to others, I can have confidence in my own abilities. Art should be collaborative. We shouldn’t tear each other down to achieve success, but rather build steps up for everyone. After I realized this, I started forming relationships with other artists (a new thing for me because I’m a naturally competitive person). These connections created a safe place for my artistic ideas to evolve and grow with the help of other creative minds. I opened up a part of me that was so secluded, I couldn’t even remember the last time I truly talked about art with another student. After this, every single part of my art has improved.
Being a teenager is not easy—which you probably already know—but putting yourself in a box is worse. You have the power to change, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Only you can make that decision. Though I felt pressure from my family, I also put pressure on myself. Luckily, I quickly realized that I was missing the opportunity to make incredible friends that are like-minded. Building those relationships has not lessened my abilities, but improved them. I am so grateful for the new friends I have made and I hope that no one else misses the chance as I almost did.
By Quaye Meadow N., 17