Q: My sister and I are only two years apart. As kids, that made us close. But as we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten competitive: over school, friends, sports — pretty much everything. I miss being friends. What should I do?
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A: You know your problem is a common one when it has a name. You and your sister are locking horns in a sibling rivalry.
Rivalries like yours are hard to break, because they’re composed of perfectly natural emotions, like jealousy. Being jealous of your sister (or she of you) doesn’t indicate that you don’t love one another. Your brain is complex, and you are capable of being jealous and happy for someone else’s success at the same time. Don’t beat yourself up over it if you feel a twinge when she does better in a class than you did or gets praised by your parents.
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Here’s what you need to do: talk to your sister. Tell her that you feel like this constant competition is causing you to grow apart. Commit to being one another’s cheerleaders. Go to her games. Ask her to help you study. Surprise her with a Starbucks drink when she gets cast in the school musical. Start thinking of your failures and successes as shared experiences and you’ll stop focusing on the score sheet.
If you need advice, ask your question in the comments, and it may be featured in an upcoming column.