Thrive on Campus//

How My Sisters Keep Me Honest With Myself

There's no one who will keep it as real as my younger siblings — and that's helped me grow.

Chee Siong Teh / EyeEm / Getty Images
Chee Siong Teh / EyeEm / Getty Images

Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.

There’s something undeniably blissful about visiting home for the holiday season.

I wake up when I feel rested instead of setting alarms, I eat all the homemade food my stomach can handle, and above all, I get the chance to escape the chaotic New York City streets and plant myself on the couch — free from all responsibility.

It’s almost as if I’m able to take a break from the stressful reality that sometimes characterizes my day-to-day life.

Almost.

When I’m home, however, I know that I’m never too far from a much needed reality check. And that reality check typically comes in the form of my two younger sisters.

I’d say the three of us are close in the way that sisters should be. We understand each other, talk to each other, and we have each other to vent to when our parents are getting on our last nerve.

We also fight. Daily.

What is it that we clash about so frequently? Our arguments can range from bickering over sharing an outfit to ruthless assaults on each other’s character.

In short, I consider being called out by my sisters to be one of the most unpleasant experiences in the world. It hurts more than when other people insult you, because they know your insecurities and they’re more aware of your flaws than anyone else.

Sisters know where to stick the knife, and then they twist it for fun.

Just this week I’ve already been called a hypocrite, inconsiderate, lazy — and who can forget the infamous this is why no one liked you in high school dis?

As painful as their words can be, this year I’ve also learned to be grateful for the unfiltered feedback that is arguing with siblings.

When I thought about it, I considered that there is literally no one else who has the courage to call me a selfish you-know-what without hesitation, no one who has the guts to bang on the door when I’m taking way too long in the shower, or who will tell me that my sarcastic comment was beyond rude.

Their honesty is simply unparalleled.

On the other hand, I guess you could say that sisters are biased — that sisters are more easily irritated by each other just because they’re related and forced to be in close proximity.

But aside from the inherent tendency for conflict, my sisters keep me accountable for my actions. I’m grateful for their lack of wariness when it comes to stating when they think I’m wrong, for not tip-toeing around the subject in a way that a friend or a boyfriend might.

And even if they are being harsh, their words make me reevaluate my actions. Am I actually — and I quote — the most self-centered person on the planet for eating last night’s leftovers? Probably not. But could I have saved a little bit of food for them? Well, yes.

My sisters keep me honest with myself. I love them for that.

When it’s all said and done, five minutes later we’re over it and back to watching the next episode of The Office anyway.

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More on Mental Health on Campus:

What Campus Mental Health Centers Are Doing to Keep Up With Student Need

If You’re a Student Who’s Struggling With Mental Health, These 7 Tips Will Help

The Hidden Stress of RAs in the Student Mental Health Crisis

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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