Tired of living in the shadow of a creative sibling? I feel you.

Ever since I was a little girl I have always compared myself to “better” artists/writers. The main person I had to compare myself to while growing up was my older brother, Nels. Nels was always creating things spontaneously. He was selling books at our local “Snowbound Books” in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by the age of 6. He was writing screenplays and filming them with my cousin by the age of 8. And by the time Nels was 17, he was being accepted into Columbia University in NYC…

Yes, I was always so proud and happy of, and for, him! But it was hard not to feel like I was living in his shadow all those years. I found my own ways to cope with being the youngest: I played music, sang obnoxiously, and enjoyed athletics and friendship. After some time though, I started realizing that just because someone else might be good at something, doesn’t mean you can’t be too.

After having been accepted to U of M, I tried to let my coat of self doubt melt off like a layer of wax. It wasn’t that easy though. Years of living in my brother’s shadow really took their toll on my confidence. Although I allowed myself to enjoy writing in privacy or for small, non-graded experiments, it was hard to expose myself as a writer at such a large and prestigious university. To make things worse, my freshmen roommate was an incredible pre-determined English major who had a blog and everything going into undergrad. Once again I felt like I was nothing of a writer compared to someone else.

Since freshmen year, however, I have found my voice as a writer. I have learned that I can be multiples types of a writer on different days: some days I write short stories, some days poetry,  others academic essays, while sometimes I don’t write at all. If being at U of M has taught me anything, it is that I am valid and that I am enough. I don’t have to be the best at something to enjoy it. I don’t have to win awards to have confidence. Writing and enjoying it is enough for me. Yes, getting praise from T (my MiW Prof currently) is always an incredible feeling; however, I will write regardless of if someone is praising me or not. Writing makes me feel present, it makes me happy. I thank Nels, now, for having been such a good role model for me during my childhood. Who knows, maybe one day we can collaborate on one of his, or my, writing projects.

Shoutout to Nels during his last semester at Columbia!

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