Living in the Shadows

By Lauren Richards –

I think more people in my grade know my brother than they do me. And considering my brother is six years older than me, I consider this clearly pathetic.

For as long as I can remember my brother and I have been polar opposites. Him, the outgoing one with a ton of friends, and me the shy one who prefers books to people. For a while this didn’t bother me, but eventually I got sick of, “Aren’t you Dan Richards’s sister?”

With his tall stature and lengthy body shape my brother is relatively average looking, yet there is something about him that seems to make you look twice. He’s always wearing his quirky smile that never fails to look 100 percent genuine and in his gray-blue eyes you can never catch a hint of judgment.

Even teachers ask me about him and he graduated five years ago. One day I was walking down the hall and I was stopped by a particular teacher, whom I had in ninth grade mind you. There was no, “Hi Lauren, how are you?” No, instead I was greeted with a, “How’s your brother doing?”

My brother didn’t just have a bunch of acquaintances, he had numerous genuine friends. I swear he had an average of five friends over each week, all on different days. And I could never keep up with all the girls. One day he’d be asking me for advice about the girl he brought over that night and I would try so hard to give him the best suggestions possible. The next day when I saw him, I would anxiously ask him if my advice worked, only to be told that he met another girl and she’d be over later.

Once he brought home an exchange student from the Middle East that he met in one of his classes, the next week he was a member of our household. Oh and for the record, a couple weeks later he was shipped back to whatever country he came from for searching how to make homemade bombs on the internet at school. Sometimes my brother was a little too open to new people and his ability to judge others wasn’t always on point.

I’ll admit that my brother has some traits that I wouldn’t want. For instance, his vulnerability, naivety and gullibility. To say that my brother is too trusting would be the understatement of the year. Also, I have some traits that I wouldn’t want to give up. For example, I am a much better student than my brother and I have had relatively the same small group of friends for my whole time in high school. But sometimes I do wish that I could walk into a room and talk to any random person or that when I walked down the hall I was bombarded with people saying hi and waving to me from all directions. It would also be nice to have something to do every single night and go to three proms like my brother did.

However, I’ve learned to accept the fact that I will never be like my brother. Though we’re linked by genetics, it seems like my brother and I have literally nothing else in common. In literary terms, we are foil characters. While one talks, the other listens. One is outgoing, the other shy. And one of us is book smart whereas  the other one is more smart socially. I like to think of it though as us being complements of each other, we may be different but we go well together.

One thought on “Living in the Shadows”

  1. Lauren,

    You may see yourself as “living in the shadows” but you sound like a thoughtful, reflective individual with much integrity and appreciation for the differences that make the world go ’round. I loved this piece.

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