Overcoming the sibling complex: An inspiring story
For several years, Priyanka Sahajwani was trying to fit into the shoes of her elder sister who was an all-rounder, until her parents helped her explore her own abilities and establish an independent identity. Priyanka's is an inspiring story of overcoming a sibling complex through self acceptance.
Priyanka Sahajwani was six years old when she first developed a fondness for drawing.
Now, she has developed such a strong passion for this hobby that she's happiest when pursuing it. But behind her smiling exterior is a touching story of self acceptance.
A 15-year-old student of Delhi Public School (Pune), Priyanka has been through her share of ups and downs in life.
While she has coped well with different situations, there is one issue in particular that took her a long time to come to terms with. This issue had a major impact on her life and caused her to supress her own identity.
Through most of her childhood, Priyanka focused on one thing only, and that was to be the exact replica of her sister.
Please click NEXT to continue reading...
Image: Priyanka Sahajwani
Photographs: Courtesy YouthIncMag
'My mother would expect me to treat my sister as my role model'
Through most of her schooling, Priyanka was living in the shadow of her older sister, whose list of achievements kept increasing at a steady rate.
She feels having an all-rounder sibling can be a real headache! When asked if she is expected to be more like her sister at home, she replies, "Of course, it's something I can't escape!''
Since she was 10 years old, Priyanka has been expected to be like her sister in every possible way. She was constantly reminded of the fact that her sibling was better at things and pressured into being more like her.
''My mother would genuinely expect me to treat my sister as my role model," says Priyanka. Her teacher, who taught both the sisters, expected her to reflect the same admirable qualities of her sister.
''My family friends would also see me as someone who should perform just like my sister or maybe better than her," she reveals. Especially in the field of studies, she was always expected to match her sister's performance.
A better option would have been for Priyanka to put in her level best and reap results that were a payback for her own hard work.
This proved to be a very low point in her life. Now, when she looks back, Priyanka remembers it as a time when she was not comfortable in her own skin. The fact that she could not push herself to be as efficient as her sister prevented her from discovering herself.
She spent most of her time trying to match her sister's achievements, "I was blindly competing with my sister, so that others were satisfied," she explains.
One would expect such a situation to have strained relations between the two sisters, but surprisingly Priyanka says that was never the case. This is because she was completely focused on being like her sister and did not blame her for the the pressure she was under.
However, once Priyanka began to focus on herself, the bond between the two sisters strengthened and their relationship reached new heights.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'There came a time when my parents started acknowledging me as another daughter'
It is commonly said that a person is both the cause and the result of his own eudaimonia.
Therefore, doing what makes you happy is much more important than trying to achieve something that others perceive as an easy task for you.
Unfortunately, this isn't something Priyanka realised back then. Whether alone or around other people, she was conscious of her every movement. There was a constant dissatisfaction in her mind, because she could not be the achiever her sister was.
It hasn't been too long since she made her peace with the problem of 'sibling comparison'.
Reminiscing, she says, "The inception of my path towards self acceptance is remembered as the time when people actually started accepting that I might be better at something else."
Ironically, it was through her parents that Priyanka realised how she was blindly following her sister's footsteps.
"There came a time when my parents started acknowledging me as another daughter, with different abilities and interests."
This development helped her view herself in a new light. Her confidence gradually increased and a distinct personality began to emerge.
Once she opened her eyes to a world outside her sister's achievements, she began to appreciate her own talents in ways that surprised her.
As soon as she realised that she and her sister are two distinct individuals, her confidence increased and people began noticing her as a unique personality.
She finally learnt to ignore what people expected from her and instead set out to discover herself. Through these changes, Priyanka learnt to satisfy herself and that was definitely a start.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
'The secret to living a peaceful life lies in accepting oneself'
Priyanka has now adopted a healthier outlook and celebrates the differences between her sister and herself.
"We are two different people, two distinct personalities. Personally, I think that although she is better than me at studies and other extra-curricular activities, there are some things that I specialise in. For example, drawing and cooking are some of the things I am better at,'' she reveals.
"If people expect me to be like her then that's fine with me, but at the end of the day I would still like to be myself."
Nevertheless, she admits that she never looks back to the time when she was living in her sister's shadow with regret, because it taught her a great deal. And she is grateful for that learning, because it has shaped her into the individual she is today.
It's been a bumpy ride, but now Priyanka has finally reached a stage in her life where she is comforable being herself.
Comparisons between Priyanka and her sister have not disappeared, but Priyanka's negative reaction to the issue certainly has.
"It's always better to know that people think of me as a different body, mind and soul; however, I will never lose respect for those who expect the best of me!"
Priyanka sums up with a thought that is applicable to all our lives.
"The secret to living a peaceful life lies in accepting oneself, no matter how harsh other people's opinions about you might be," she says.
Illustration: Dominic Xavier