My older sister was in town visiting me this weekend and apart from driving endlessly around windy back roads, we filled the miles with chit chat about anything and everything.
She and I couldn’t be more different. She married her high school sweetheart (the last of the dying breed she used to say.) Had two kids. And recently got divorced. She’s had three or four jobs in her life to my ten or eleven. She’s four years older. She’d be the first to say she’s risk averse. But, like me, she’s a do-it-yourselfer, independent and holds her own in anything she does.
I, on the other hand, am still single at 41. No kids. Decompressing from my date-a-thon gone wrong. And taking my third career break. I’ll take as many risks as I can that won’t require me to talk to a lawyer. I’ll go for broke in the name of love, passion or a really good chocolate chip cookie. We’re both strong, confident and a wee bit feisty, but she is definitely ruled by reason where I follow all those sticky, gooey feelings.
So I appreciate her different perspective, I do. I also find myself defensive and unable to answer her questions without a rise in my you-don’t-get-me tone. As emotional as I can be when it comes to decision making, I also have a fairly decent head on my shoulders. I consider the pitfalls, the worse case scenarios and practical things like how long my savings will support my me-time time out. I’m both thinking and feeling. Take that, Myers-Briggs.
The funny thing is, talking to my sister was like talking to myself. I had asked all the tough questions about what it is I really want, what skills do I have to achieve it and can I do it alone. I recognize my shortcomings and the challenges ahead of whatever path I choose. I was answering her and myself all over again and felt like we were locking horns.
I love my sister. I love having her words of sanity and pragmatism to offset my crazy, scrambled ideas. I know–at least I think I do–where her thinking was born (as the eldest who had to be the guardian in our latchkey kids’ life). She favors the things that keep order and calm. She has/had no choice. I see that in her. And map it right back to who she is today.
I understood exactly where she was coming from. I followed her logic and her sisterly concern. And as she gave advice, it’s not that I didn’t want to hear it. It’s that I didn’t feel heard. Shouldn’t your siblings just get you? Is that not a side-effect of sharing DNA?
Generally, I agree, it’s a good thing to sound yourself out. I also think playing devil’s advocate is a necessary exercise. I just wanted her to know my thinking like she should know me. I am the same adamant (read: stubborn) girl inside that I was when I was four. This is me. Your little sister–the one who got sent to the principal’s office for refusing to answer to the teacher’s incorrect variation of her name. The one who was both a cheerleader and yet always wore black and safety pins in her ears. The one who found quitting her job in the middle of a recession a relief. I’m still that girl.
I’m not above constructive criticism–much less flat out criticism. But I figure my sounding board should resonate somewhat with me, no? I don’t necessarily want my sister to agree. I learn a lot from her differing opinions. For some reason, it’s easier to hear someone’s opposing side if they at least understand yours.
Though I listen to my sister’s reasoning and sometimes even get it, I instinctively fight against her–kind of like when I was six… Maybe that’s exactly it.