Monday, November 15, 2010

The Shadow of the Sister

Growing up in the shadow of a smart, highly competent, over achieving older sister wasn’t easy for me. For the most part I lived in my imagination, which was rich with visions of popes and pasta and gefilte fish and Cossacks. My sister seemed to live in reality, and from what I could see it looked like she was doing pretty well there. She was the smart daughter and I was the daughter that the family needed to pray for. When I finished high school, I didn’t have a great future awaiting me. My grades were average and my SAT scores were even less than unremarkable.  I wanted to see the world and taste life, yet from my performance in school it looked as though the road to an exciting life was closed off to me. The point is that I always felt like I was stupid in comparison to my sister. I even become tongue-tied in her presence, and I’m certain that my IQ drops a few points.
Last night I told my husband that I am embarrassed to admit it, but the truth is that I want to be a writer, not just the writer of a blog, but a writer that is able to create beautiful prose and weave them into a work of fiction. However, I believe that I am stupid, and how can a stupid person write. My husband said that stupid people write all the time. But I want to create something of quality and value; my husband said that a stupid person cannot do that. Then my husband reminded me of the published writers that I respect and admire that have commented on my ability and potential as a writer. But I am scared to try because I am scared of failing, and if I fail I will take that as confirmation of my stupidity. Is it possible that I am still living in my fantasy world; only this time the fantasy is more of a bad dream in which I have convinced myself that I am intellectually inadequate? If I want to live in “reality”, I don’t have any evidence to build a case for my stupidity. I just made up that I am stupid, and I use that to block the expression of my creativity.
Why write a blog post that reveals the nasty little secret that I believe myself to be lacking in intelligence? Because I need to purge myself of this nonsense, and I need to come clean about my jealousy in regard to my sister. By the way, my sister is one of the most amazing women that I know, and I’m sure that she has no idea that I have felt so intimidated by her.
So even though I doubt myself and fear failure, I am going to continue to write. Writing connects me to beauty and wonder, and writing is the expression of the deepest and richest part of me. What could be better than that?
This post is dedicated to my sister whose intelligence and creativity inspire me to become a better version of me.

1 comment:

  1. The way you feel about intelligence, that's the way I've always felt about beauty: you were the pretty one, so I never feel attractive. Aren't childhood stereotypes (that I'm sure no one intentionally gave) ridiculous? Isn't it more ridiculous that we have trouble letting them go?

    As far as fear of failure goes, some of my biggest failures—when I thought I'd done okay at something, but the person making the decision about it thought otherwise—have ultimately been very beneficial. I would hate to do everything right the first time and miss the processes of trail and error and of discovery.