I spent a good chunk of my days over winter break putting together one of my most prized gifts from Christmas: a puzzle from my older sister.
It isn’t just a puzzle of a sunset that came in a half-torn cardboard box. It came upright in a corked glass jar, with a tube of clear glue and a gold straight-edge tool to spread it.
The image, with a myriad of bright colors and intricate designs, is a drawing of two sisters sitting side by side. One’s head is resting on the other’s shoulder, with their arms crossed and their smiles soft.
My sister has always been my number one role model.
Growing up, she was a representation of what I perceived as a “cool girl.”
I would get excited just to have her hand-me-down Hollister graphic t-shirts in middle school. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was that excited. My main source of entertainment stemmed from hearing stories about her day in our bunk-bed hideout when we used to share a room.
Through my deep admiration, it was only natural that I wanted to follow in her footsteps.
All of her own hobbies and interests quickly became mine. When she started wearing makeup, I did too.
I looked awful, shamelessly walking through fifth grade with mascara that would melt down my face halfway through the day.
I hated school subjects like English and history until she loved them. Now here I am, a journalism major.
The major milestones in my 20 years of life have stemmed directly from her. She shaped me into the person that I am today.
While having her as my role model was great, there’s always been a bad side. I often felt that growing up alongside her, I had to be as great as she was. There is no doubt in my mind that she was, and most likely still is, my parents’ favorite.
She’s extremely productive, and has excelled in academics. Every semester of her college career, a letter indicating she had made the Dean’s List would be posted up on our home fridge. She always stayed humble too, never boasting about her accomplishments, nor complaining about little things throughout her day.
It always felt like the standards were held so high for me.
My sister is still, and will always be, the one who I look up to most, but I’ve since learned that I am comfortable no longer trying to follow in her footsteps.
She’s considering a career in law after college, whereas I know that law is something that I could never take on, considering I cry in most arguments.
She’s an early bird and leads a healthy lifestyle. I’m one to wake up at noon every day and scroll on my phone for hours.
I’ve learned to be okay with settling our differences and not being her carbon copy. What matters most to me is that she’s still there to better me through it all as my personal guide and support system.
I’ve become my own person, but she has helped mold the pieces of who I am. Through all of the early childhood WWE-level cat fights and impromptu at-home spa and yoga nights, she will always be there for me as my older sister.
By the end of winter break, I glued together the puzzle pieces and placed it on my wall, like a framed painting, adjacent from my bed. The two sisters in the puzzle, to me, serve as a reminder that she’s my right-hand (wo)man.