Following my brother’s footsteps isn’t as easy as it seems

January 7, 2011 — by Michelle Shu

After graduating from Saratoga High in 2008, my older brother Marvin went on to become a student at Stanford University. I have constantly dreamed of boasting admittance to Stanford, but my brother’s accomplishments are difficult to match.

Having an older brother who attends such a prestigious school pressures me to match or outdo him in academics. With both friends and family comparing me to my brother, I feel like I have no choice but to push myself until I can be Stanford material.

It is typical for me to hear “You’ll get into Stanford easily. Your brother goes there, right?” or “I bet your grades are amazing. I mean, look at your brother!” While everyone assumes that I am some sort of genius, I feel like I am nothing but an ordinary Saratoga High student.

Typically, I work as hard as other students, studying for upcoming tests and turning my homework in on time. However, when the week of finals nears or PSAT scores are about to come out, I get worried that I cannot live up to the high expectations my brother left behind.

Having my brother at Stanford is actually really amazing, though. I remember visiting his dormitory during his freshman year and seeing that each door had two expanded Pokemon cards describing the people living in that room. It appealed to my younger self, making his college seem really exciting and worth visiting.

Thanks to college, Marvin is significantly kinder and more talkative than before. During our few conversations, he used to only tease at me, but now, we have a more friendly relationship. Because of a five-year age difference, I could never connect to my brother, which left an awkward space between us.

Every time he came back to visit, he would be nicer, but a whole lot smarter. I am always happy when Marvin’s home for the holidays, but it also feels like Stanford invaded my house. It is unsettling to see so much Stanford apparel hanging around my house.

Our relationship has definitely improved, but there are still times when I really wish he was not that smart. Some comparison is fine, however, constant comparison in academics becomes irksome. However, there is no avoiding that “motivational” lecture we get from our parents to do better in school.

It is hard being a sibling of someone who goes to Stanford, but it truly does help that I have the advantage of having a sibling that goes to an elite college when applying for college myself.

After 15 years of living this life, I have finally started to accept the title of being “Marvin’s little sister.” Although it irritated me before to just be recognized as his little sister, I can be proud that I have a brother as special as him.

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