Love and Friendship, advice

What It Feels Like When You Can’t Live Up To Your Older Siblings

words by Year13

Having a big brother or sister has its perks. Your parents have already gone through all the hard stuff with your older siblings so they’re so much more chill with you and you’ve always got someone to drive you around. Having an older brother and an older sister meant I’ve always had someone to teach me how to drive, never had to deal with any crappy baby sitters and always had someone to turn to when I couldn’t talk to my parents about something.

But having older siblings has its downsides- especially when you can’t live up to their successes. Whether your big brother or sister is academically number one, killing it in a sport or just an all round overachiever- it can be tough figuring out how you’re ever going to live up to the standard they’ve set, especially if you’ve got no talent or interest in whatever it is they’re best at. Maybe your entire family have always done well academically, but you’re better at shooting photos than writing essays. Or maybe you’ve got an eye for design while your parents expect you to be acing all your Maths exams.

One of the worst parts is that people have all these ideas about who you are and what you should do, based on what your sibling did. You can’t escape it outside the family either- your teachers remember when they had your brother in their class and he got top marks on every exam or when your sister broke the school cross country record and they expect you to top them. There’s no sliding under the radar when your siblings have already made their mark in the years before you.


Even if you do manage to somehow equal your older sibling it doesn’t matter because there will always be a battle of comparisons that ends up with you losing. Whenever you mess up, flunk an exam, come home late, forget to clean your room or get a detention you will be compared to your older sibling.

When someone has gone before you and set the standard for what you should be doing it doesn’t seem to matter how much effort you put in- if you’re not clearing the bar they’ve set then you’re not good enough.

Here’s the thing though, at the end of the day you’re your own person with a lifetime of experiences ahead of you. It might feel like you’re letting your family down. It might feel like you’re disappointing the people around you who expected so much more from you. How you decide to live your life doesn’t have to rely on how your siblings lived theirs- no matter how much it might feel like it.It might feel like you’re letting your family down. It might feel like you’re disappointing the people around you who expected so much more from you. We’re always comparing ourselves: to our siblings, to our friends, to the people we follow on Instagram and whoever else seems to be doing better in life than us. Give yourself a break and realise that you are good enough- regardless of what your talents are or what everyone else is doing.