Written by: Hannah Forsythe
In February of 2003, I was brought into the world. I became the first child of my mother and father that day. Almost two years later, while my father was deployed, my sister was born. Then, when I was about five or six, they divorced. Eventually, my mother remarried and my half-brother (who I honestly consider my “full” brother, why label him as half?) was brought into the world. My dad remarried about two years ago and with that, I gained a stepbrother and a stepsister. So, I guess you can say that I have four siblings in all. And I’m the oldest out of all of them.
I have four siblings looking up to me and watching what I do all the time. It is honestly terrifying. It wasn’t till late middle school when the feeling of terror and the need to be perfect truly set in, though. In 8th grade, I took high school algebra. Unaware of the fact that this class grade would be on my transcript, I didn’t take it seriously and almost failed. After all of that happened, my “oh crap” moment occurred and I realized that my siblings were watching all of this. So, I started to bust my butt to raise my grade. That determination to make everyone- not just siblings but my parents too- proud carried over to high school. I studied all the time, joined JROTC, participated on three of the special teams within JROTC, and basically just did everything I could to be the perfect daughter. I’d look at my GPA, which was a 3.8 at the time, and just be so disappointed in myself. “It isn’t a 4.0,” I’d say. To me, it wasn’t perfect, so that meant I wasn’t perfect.
This past school year was probably the hardest of them all. Junior year is supposedly the hardest year out of high school and it lived up to the hype. I was on the varsity cross country team, two JROTC teams (one I was actually the captain of), and enrolled in all AP courses. I was at school from 7:45 in the morning to 6 pm sometimes. I did all of this because I knew I was capable of it, but there was that small part of me that wanted to be the perfect daughter. Deep down, I wanted my parents to brag about me to their colleagues. I wanted my little sister- who is now a sophomore- to be proud of who her sister was. I wanted my ten-year-old brother to compare me to Wonder Woman because of how far I could push myself. My determined mindset and ability to push myself came to a halt when my ex-boyfriend, someone I trusted with everything and who was one of my biggest cheerleaders, dumped me. He left and I was a mess. I became depressed and felt like I was worth absolutely nothing. While I was trying to mend my broken heart, I realized that I still had four siblings watching me. So I started to hide my emotions and only let my friends know how much I was hurting. I felt the pressure of wanting to be perfect come back again and it hit harder than usual. Because, this time, I needed to not just show my family that I was “perfect”- I had to show the world I was.
As the oldest, you feel this sort of pressure that will never go away. This probably sounds horrible to some people, but for me, I felt like the trial run. I was the one who marked the path, my siblings are the ones who will pave it and decorate it. I know that we will all have very different paths, we’re all extremely different and will all have different paths. But that’s what I felt like sometimes: the trial run. Being the first born, you have no one giving you advice on what to do. You have to figure out everything on your own without the advice of an older sibling that lived it already.
I know that I’ve made it out to seem like that being the oldest is some sort of curse and is horrible. It can be horrible every now and then. Being a sibling in general can be rough sometimes. But as the oldest, there are tons of amazing qualities we all tend to have and experiences we all get to see. I get to see my siblings grow up. I get to help them with their problems and be able to do for them what no one was able to do for me. As the oldest, I have a natural born tendency to be a leader and more confident in who I am. I may make it out to seem like I hate being the first born, and yeah sometimes I do. Sometimes I wish I had an older brother or sister to lean on when things got tough. But I don’t. I have four younger ones who look up to me and follow paths that I’ve helped lay for them. This is definitely not what every single oldest child feels like. Everyone is different and experiences different emotions, this is just scraping the surface of what I’ve felt like for the past 17 years.