College is a stage of our lives where we are often removed from our families for the first time, but this is not always so. Many of us have siblings here, or at other schools, with whom we share very close bonds, experiences, academic interests and even professors. This piece is the first in a planned series on relationships with one’s siblings while in college.
I was a little apprehensive to come to the same school as my sister. We’d both gone to the same, small, high school, been involved in the same activities, had the same teachers, even the same friends. My sister and I are very close, but I always felt that I was following in her shadow. Granted, it was a great shadow to follow, her intelligence and good relationships with her teachers gave me an automatic leg-up each year. But all the same I wanted my own identity. Following her to Kenyon had not been my first idea. I was going to go somewhere else, somewhere new where I could make my own way, have my own friends, and grow up away from any familial influence. But then I chose Kenyon. I chose Kenyon because it was where I saw myself, it was where I was happy, where I thought I could would do the best. It took a little effort to fully accept the fact that, once again, we would be at the same school, seeing each other every day, having the same professors and possibly even the same friends. But then I got here.
Within a few weeks all my anxiety over following in her shadow was gone. All my worry that her presence would make me feel like I couldn’t be my own person, like I couldn’t find my way, it disappeared. I realized how much I had missed seeing her everyday for the past two years. Seeing her, if only for a second, at Peirce or on Middle Path, was comforting, it staved off loneliness at the beginning of the year, gave me someone to talk to when I was struggling with assignments. I have a built in friend and confidant. And what’s more, I have a conversation starter. I have an introduction to upperclassmen, like in high school — I already have someone to vouch for my character.
This semester my sister is abroad. Last summer, whenever I’d worry about being on the same campus with her, I’d think “it’s okay, she’ll be abroad in the spring, that’s when I can get to know Kenyon for myself.” There’s still some truth in that, I will know Kenyon differently this semester, but I already miss my sister. I miss waving hello, I being able to text any fun thing I did or saw, I even miss awkwardly running into her at parties.
If your younger sibling is looking at colleges now, encourage him or her to look at Kenyon. College can be an overwhelming place, and it’s nice to have a friend. Kenyon is a small place, but there is room for you to be your own person. My sister and I lead very separate lives, this isn’t high school, we may never have the same teachers, we will never be in a play together, but we’ll be friends, and we’ll be there for the other and as it turns out, Kenyon plus sibling has been the best choice for me.