Being a sister in college

As of Jan. 22, I have been a sister for 20 years. That number amazes me each time that I think about it – my brother has been by my side through each adventure. He’s been my sidekick from both near and far.

There are other times, though, when I think about how I’ve wasted these past 20 years. I think of the fights I shouldn’t have picked, the names I shouldn’t have called him and the times I was selfish when he needed me. I think about the times when I should have let him know I’m proud of him and that I love him but didn’t.

Over the past several years, I’ve learned that familial relationships are relationships that you have to work at, just like any other, which can be especially difficult when you’re in college. You fight and have disagreements, but you have to work to resolve them. For a long time I’ve taken for granted the effort that my family puts in to reach out to me and make sure that I’m okay when I haven’t done the same to everybody else, especially my brother.

When my parents divorced, my brother and I became closer than we had ever been before. I remember taking walks, and we would talk openly about how the separation was affecting us. We could vent our anger and frustration to each other, knowing that we were in the same situation.

There was one deciding factor bringing me to FMU: the location. It was close to my brother. My parents lived nine hours apart, and moving to Florence meant that I was only three hours away from him for times that he needed me the most.

Yet even though I was there for him physically, as I got more and more involved in college, I got less and less involved in his life. We both changed. He was a teenager who was acting out in high school, and I was taking advantage of traveling and learning experiences offered by FMU.

Where I went wrong is that I didn’t reach out to him anymore. My parents would call me and express their concerns over his well being and the choices he was making, and I wouldn’t talk to him directly. Now we hardly talk, and when we do, it feels strained. We’ve lost the closeness that we once had, and it’s awkward to navigate that without explicitly saying that we went wrong and lost touch.

College can be difficult. You can get so wrapped up in jobs, classes, friends, clubs and traveling that you can forget to maintain relationships with your family like you would with your friends. I am guilty of becoming short-sighted and selfish, especially when it comes to my brother. Now I regret not talking to him as much through my college years. He’s been there for my adventures, but at a distance because I didn’t involve him.

The wonderful thing about being a sister is that I know he still loves me when I mess up, and he knows I still love him when he messes up. There’s forgiveness with an apology because we love each other.

So during this next year of his life, as he celebrates his 20th birthday, I’ll promise to do better and let him know I love him. Not everybody gets to be a sister, and I sure am proud to be one.