What is it about sibling rivalry that we don’t ever seem to outgrow? Last week I went to California to visit my older brother, his wife and two children. They moved to California from New Jersey just about eighteen months ago and this was my first visit with them. He has been inviting me to come and visit since the minute they moved out there, yet I have been reluctant to do so, until now.
I am hyper-competitive with a Type A personality – yet I never thought of my brother as my competition. So why was it that I haven’t gone to visit them until now? Could it be jealously that manifested itself as sibling rivalry and rooted itself over four decades ago, when I came into this earth to a life of perpetual sharing and hand-me-downs?
Growing up two and half years younger than my brother, I always felt compelled to keep up with him and his friends. Determination and perseverance were the driving forces that ensured I wouldn’t be left behind. I was focused and work really hard to keep up. But at some point I stopped, looked around and saw that my brother was behind me. And not only was he behind, I also realized that he had chosen a different path at the fork in the road.
Our life choices seemed to be a comparison of apples to oranges and therefore there was no fair measure. But somewhere along the way, new areas of competition have emerged between us. The entire week before my trip I engaged in a neurotic regimen of diet and exercise similar to one of a Hollywood starlet as she prepares to set foot onto the Red Carpet – And I’m fairly certain that my brother dusted off his copy P-90X the minute he found out that I was coming to visit.
No one actually wins any of the competitions or at least there is never a clear winner. Even if one of us seems to gain an advantage, the other would never acknowledge it anyway. The lack of acknowledgement and indifference has almost become the symbol of defeat because pride prevents outright recognition of the winner.
Yes this behavior is completely irrational and even foolishly comical. But sibling rivalry is as much a part of nature as wolves fighting almost to the death in order to become the leader of the pack. And no matter how ludicrous the entire notion may be, we never seem to outgrow it – no matter how old or how wise we become.