For all the love and companionship I share with my best friend, I admit I am intensely jealous of one aspect of her life: her family. Hers are very close knit; her mum, sister and herself and it makes me sad to admit I want that for myself.
The problem with my family, in comparison, is that my mum and sister are best friends. And then there’s me. They both emoted all over the place during their respective wedding speeches about how close they were… awkward. Growing up in a 2.4 family, I always felt like the odd one out, a feeling I thought would stop once I eventually reached adulthood. Instead, it has gotten progressively worse and at this point in my life I feel further away from them than ever.
To give you some background; there are six LONG years between my elder sister and I and 23 years between myself and my mother. However there are 16 years between my sister and my mum which I always felt was the cause of their closeness. Whenever I go back to my proverbial homeland there is a distinct awkwardness; gaps in conversation that weren’t there before, and a plethora of in-jokes made which I’m not clued in on.
I get it, first world problems, lucky to have a family etc. I know I am and I do love my family very much, I just wish I was included more.
When I decided to move to London two years ago, due to having a rubbish university experience and wanting to be as far away as possible, this was met by my family with complete and utter outrage. For six months they subjected me to constant questioning, criticising of my boyfriend, my character and my sheer gall to do something they didn’t approve of. I had to listen to endless conversations about how useless I am, how I wast n’t ready to survive on my own and was the baby who needed to be looked after and how I would fail and come crying home – for them to be waiting with “I told you so.” May I just say, at this point I was 22 and I’d moved away from home when I was 18 to live on my own in Canada. I can look after myself pretty well.
It frustrates me because I understand they were just worried. I suffered from terrible homesickness in my first year of university, that was effectively cured by living on another continent, and I would have considered myself a bit of a homebird. In the last few years though, I’ve changed and slowly become more of the person I want to be. I feel though, that person is not what my family want. They want a Version.2 of my sister. Prettier, friendlier, funnier, cleverer, more outgoing, good stable job, fiancé, nice house, good group of friends… really, she is fantastic on paper. I’m stubborn, introverted, anti-social, grumpy, scruffy, artistic, nerdy, not very quick witted and have a complete inability to work with numbers (naturally she works in a bank). It’s never bothered me, the way I am, because I’ve also got a great imagination, I’m very laid back and happy in my own company. But this has never been good enough. I’ve always been pushed to be more like my sister in every way, by everyone in my family. It took a good few years for my family to accept that I have mild learning difficulties – I still don’t think they believe me. She is the ultimate type to aspire to and I’ve always felt like the cast off.
As the eventual move to London happened, I settled into my life and myself and as a result I feel so much happier than I ever did at home. At this current point however, I am still getting asked on a monthly basis when I’m moving home, to stop being so silly and to grow up. They really expect me to come crying home whenever things go wrong and it hurts, it really hurts. I’ve gotten to almost a quarter of a century old and I’m seen by everyone as a child.
The club has grown tighter in my absence and new members have been added. My mum, her partner, my sister and her husband now regularly hang out as a foursome and my Facebook is barraged with photos of them all out having fun. This doesn’t make me happy; to me it’s a smack in the face. I don’t feel that my family have ever truly understood my boyfriend either – he is like me, almost exactly the same – a wizard with guitar and obscenely clever. He’s also the best friend I could have ever asked for and it’s been noted on that we’re pretty much the same person. My family are loud, intense and like to get involved in everyone else’s life’s – we don’t.
Maybe that’s the solution then? Stay out of the way, except for the unavoidable stuff and otherwise just keep a low profile. I finally figured out how to exit the What’s App group with my mum/sister so at least now her problems are at a distance. If my dad were alive I’d love to think we’d be a gang of two, but since that can’t happen I think I’ll fly the solitary sister flag alone.