Being the big sister, I feel it's my duty to teach my little brother a lot of the little lessons I've learned growing up. I mean, after all, I AM the older one, so obviously I know more, right?
Apparently not, because it was my little brother (six years younger then me, to be exact) that taught me what I consider one of the most important lessons I may ever learn.
"You won't grow unless you put yourself up against people who are better than you."
So, story time: my brother has always been extremely athletic. Every sport he tries, he excels at. We have yet to find a sport he sucks at (it’s kind of ridiculous if you ask me). He's in a total of seven different sports throughout the year. And being the AMAZING big sister I am, I go to all the sporting events I can to support him. And it's currently baseball season, which will always be his favorite sport. He's on a AA tournament team that has been nothing but amazing for him this year and he has grown so much. They dominated most of the tournaments they were in (unless they had some crappy off day), and because of that, they eventually got promoted to AAA.
And then they started sucking.
It's not that they suddenly started playing horribly, they just now had teams that were plain better than them. And it was hard at first, going from winning (or at least being in the top three) to being towards the bottom at the end of every day. So I started to question why they didn't just move us back down to AA? We would start to win again, and that's what we want. Right? I thought back to when he first got onto a baseball team that really made him the player he is today (and the first year I actually put down my book and payed attention to the games): his little league team when he was eight years old. The coach was one of the best we have ever had and the team itself had amazing players. My brother played extremely well, better then my mom and I have ever seen. Who knew he had it in him?
As the years went on and my brother played on good teams and not so good teams, my mom and I discovered that my brother plays his best when he's with people who are better then him. The years that he played amazing, there was always one kid on the team that was all around better then him--running, batting, catching, everything. If my brother was that "best" kid, he never played up to his potential. He actually started to play worse because he was considered the top player and had no one to push him. And you would think it would be frustrating to never be #1 on a winning team, but when we asked him about it, he said he needed people on the team who were better than him, because he strived to be just as good as them which helped him grow.
And that really struck a chord in me. He was right, he played better when he wasn’t #1 because there was always that motivation to keep up with the person who WAS better than him. So he would push himself to learn from that person, which would make him a better ball player all around.
Now to swing that example into something not baseball related: it can feel amazing to always win, to be the best person in whatever you do. It can boost your confidence, but it can also lead to a bad ego (I've seen prime examples of it). So, yes, my brother’s team isn’t doing so hot right now--they almost never win. But that's how you learn, by making mistakes and learning from them. If you put yourself up against people you know you will beat, you will never grow as a person and will remain stagnant in whatever you are trying to do. Then someone will come along who CAN beat you and you won't know what to do with yourself, because you’ve always been #1.
So, basically, don't be afraid to push yourself or to go against people who are better than you, people who are WAY better than you. It will probably suck at first, and it may take longer than you would like, but you will start to learn and become better, even if you don't see it yourself at first.
So thank you to my little brother. Thank you for teaching me that it’s OK to not know the answer to everything (don’t let him know that though, he doesn’t need to know that I’m not always right).
Thank you for teaching me that I don’t always have to be the best, because no matter what I’m doing, or where I am, I can always improve and learn more.
Lead Image Credit: Morgan Meyer