Let me start by saying that I am a middle child in a family of four. My older sister is a year older than me, my brother is 3 years younger, and my younger sister is 6 years younger. Technically, my brother is also a middle child. However, being that he is the only boy, he is heavily favored in my family as if he was an only child.

I started to feel like there was something different about me during my preteen years. I always looked for reasons as to why I was treated differently than my siblings, and I would usually find excuses as to why my parents were justified in the way they treated me. As I got older I realized that my birth order was playing a much larger role in my life than I ever realized.

I did not have a tragic childhood by any means. My family is well off, I always had friends, and I was usually one of the smarter kids in school. The one major problem in my life was the criticisms I received from my parents. I was always targeted for my weight, lack of maturity, laziness, etc. I took these comments for the truth and believed that I exuded these traits.

It was when I got to college that I started to realize that I was not as much of a lost cause as I believed. Away from my house and the criticism, I unknowingly blossomed into the lady that I always was deep down. I was constantly complimented by professors, dorm mates, friends, etc. I was told how independent, strong, smart, successful, and beautiful I was. At first, when I was complimented, I thought to myself “all these people who see the good in me must not know me well enough; none of these good things are true.” However, as time went on I began to forget the things my parents had told me and believe what others were telling me.

I am thankful that being in college has helped me see how much I have going for me. I am by no means perfect, but being away from home helped me see that I have just as many good traits as my siblings. It is still hard sometimes, especially when I come home from school on winter or summer vacation. I am once again forced into the shadow of my adored siblings, and I still find myself asking “is the something wrong with me? What makes my siblings so much better?”

It saddens me that being with my family causes my self esteem to lower so much, because I really do love them. I am thankful for the growth college has granted me, but I hope that a day comes when I can be amongst my family without the environment causing me to doubt myself.

by Nicole