My younger sister, Emma, and I have always been two distinctly different people.
My designated color is pink, hers is purple. I’m good at school, she’s good at sports. I’m patient, she’s restless. I’m quiet, she’s loud. I react in tears, she reacts in anger. And she knows how to stand up for herself, which I only recently learned from her.
As one may have guessed, we fought a lot for most of our childhood. While our problems were usually minor, ranging from not wanting to play with our Barbie dolls together to borrowing — or stealing might be a better word — each other’s clothes, we were constantly instigating screaming matches and slamming doors because our personalities clashed. We knew and still know exactly how to irritate each other.
We also created plenty of fun memories in our childhood as most sisters do, like constantly rewatching the movie Coraline when it first came out, recording Video Star music videos to the song “Nothing Without Love” by MAX and making up weird but catchy songs and beats. However, our general resentment toward each other grew throughout middle school and high school as our personalities further developed and accentuated our already stark differences.
She quickly gained a large group of friends with her extroverted personality, but I was shy with a small friend group. Our opposing social identities increasingly separated us. It feels childish to look back on, but in my mind, I categorized Emma as the popular star athlete and myself as an alternative introvert.
Our relationship was forced to change when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and we had to hang out every day in the same house. At 17 and 15 years old, some of our typical teenage interests ended up overlapping, so we begrudgingly, then eventually intentionally, did them together.
Most of our days were spent making avocado toast with eggs, tanning on our blacktop driveway, binge-watching bad movies and going on long walks. When whipped coffee was trending on TikTok, we accidentally formed our caffeine addictions. At some point, Emma even let me bleach her hair, although the experiment didn’t turn out so great.
During our forced proximity, I learned we’re more similar than I ever imagined. We have similar opinions on most political, social and personal matters and our significant love for animals is a defining trait for both of us.
We also laugh the hardest together, bringing out the weirdest sides of each other. Our daily screaming matches turned into laughing so loud with each other every night that our parents had to constantly tell us to be quiet.
While I resented how different we were growing up, it turned out many of our differences were actually similarities in disguise. We’re equally stubborn and passionate, which contributed to our lifelong rocky relationship.
I realized having outwardly opposite personalities allowed us to inspire each other. While I was jealous of her athletic ability and the way she effortlessly made friends, she aspired to excel in academics and have the closer friendships I did. Everything we did differently from each other was something we could learn from each other.
Earlier this semester, my sister and I were browsing at Sephora and I purchased some skin care products. An employee followed us the entire time we were in the store, and as we left she stared us down in an accusatory manner as if we had stolen something when we didn’t.
Normally, I would walk away from a situation like this, but as the employee seemingly reported us by talking into her walkie-talkie, Emma walked straight up to her and confidently asked, “Do we have a problem?”
After I hid in embarrassment and the employee awkwardly shrugged, my sister and I ran away laughing and she told me I should take note. While she was acting a bit ridiculous in this situation, Emma taught me how to stand up for myself when I need to and she learned how to look at conflicts with a more rational mind from me.
Although I moved into an apartment off of Temple University’s Main Campus in August 2021 and she lives approximately 45 minutes away in Hatboro, we still call each other multiple times a week. We tell each other about every minor inconvenience, so at least half of our conversations start with one of us saying, “Oh my God bro, guess what just happened?”
As her older sister, I know Emma looks to me as a role model and I try to be the best sister I can, but I know she has just as much to teach me. In the past three years, our relationship has gotten significantly stronger. Now that we’ve accepted each other for who we are, I hope we continue to grow together throughout our lives.