In the shadow of an overachieving sibling

What happens when the rise of your sibling leaves you sulking in the shadows?

Anisah Azmi

Published: 26 October 2016, 6:32 PM

Anyone who has a sibling knows comparison and competition. Whenever one sibling excels in any aspect, the other is often left soaking in bitterness.

Unfortunately I was the one, more often than not, drenched in putrid jealousy.

My sister Azimah is only three years older than me. And while she has been my best friend since the day I was born, that did not stop us from developing a love-hate relationship.

She had more friends, had better grades, went to better schools…the whole nine yards. My own name was blurred out by most people and I was known as “Azimah’s little sister”. It was quite possibly the only fact about myself people were interested in.

When it came down to squabbles that were mediated by our parents, it was her word against mine, and her word was what they always went with – she is the older sibling after all. It was fairly easy for resentment to sprout at a young age.

Azimah (left) and I rocking matching outfits

As I grew older however, my childhood perception of my sister’s superiority over me eventually became white noise. I had accepted it, and could tune it out as I went along with my life.

Then she took part in the NutriGirl 2014 fitness model competition and came in 2nd runner-up. This would be the first of many fitness competitions she would take part in.

Coming from an extremely fitness-oriented family, with my father and two older brothers working passionately for the fitness and health industry, this was a huge deal. While the rest of my family was filled with pride and excitement, I was struck by complete envy.

My brother, sister and father after her win at the World Bodybuilding & Physique Federation National Bodybuilding Championship. I was not there because I was still salty about it.

I was, no doubt, proud of my sister and all that she has accomplished. However, I was overwhelmed by the amount of attention she was receiving as a fast-rising fitness icon, from sponsorship deals and photoshoot offers to a ton of followers on social media.

Years of jealousy and pure insecurity caught up to me, and it turned ugly quick. I turned into, to put it bluntly, a jealous brat who would throw tantrums, spew spite, and go out of my own way to be completely unreasonable whenever possible.

Fitness model and athlete, my sister is the full package Photo credit: Ryemie Muhaimin

Despite my negative feelings towards my sister’s success, however, I love her dearly. So when my connection with her started to turn sour, I knew I had gone too far.

I kept myself distracted from the negative emotions by concentrating on my own growth, talents and passions. This helped keep the jealousy under control until there was a breakthrough earlier this year.

I was the editor for an in-school magazine project and was vocally relieved when the project I had worked incredibly hard on was finally printed. I showed my sister the copy, and with a heart of sincerity, she told me she was proud of me.

That was the moment.

She had acknowledged my own little achievement, and it opened up doors to deeper conversations where we shared our insecurities and anxieties with each other.

My sister, the successful, accomplished dream-child, told me how she had admired me all along. In fact she was envious of me; she saw me as fearless, charismatic and confident, which was both admirable and intimidating to her as an introverted person.

Tough sisterly love overcomes everything.

The concept of jealousy between my sister and I just seemed ridiculous at this point.

I realised that these were the paths we were meant to take, and although they are entirely different, they are both completely valid and worth taking pride in.

The shadow of inferiority, insecurity and resentment was only cast by myself, and I finally understood that the solution to feeling overshadowed is to step out of the shade and stand in the sun with the ones you love.

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