Middle child syndrome – a term I’ve heard my whole life and that I have apparently been diagnosed with. Growing up with two older siblings and one younger has left me perfectly sandwiched, but more of the tomato than the turkey. In a well-crafted, scrumptious sandwich, the turkey and tomato are always on the inside. Even though both are in the middle, the turkey is given more credit and attention than the measly tomato. In my case, the turkey is my older brother. The fact that he is the only boy against three girls has outweighed him being a middle child, thus he shows less symptoms of middle child syndrome than me. It is never easy to have an older sister whose personality will fill any room, an older brother with a genius brain wired for computers, and a younger, perfectionist sister who got all the good looks. As a little girl, I always found myself wishing I was something other than the tomato of the sibling sandwich, I don’t even like tomatoes.
When I was in elementary school, my two older siblings were in junior high. I found myself jealous of the “homework time” that they received from my parents and fantasized about the day when I would have difficult homework that would require assistance. Homework became my new favorite hobby – looking back, I don’t know what I was thinking. Because I was stuck in the middle, I made it my sole purpose in life to work harder than ever to become noticed. As high school came around, I soon discovered that this tactic had been embedded into the depths of my soul. It was no longer merely about schoolwork, I wanted to shine in everything I did. It wasn’t necessarily about the attention anymore; it was more of a self-determined “you can do it!” kind of thing. Seeing all my siblings made me feel like I was never good enough. I would sit there, staring at the mirror, trying to figure out what I could possibly have that they don’t. Finally, I came to a major realization. The turkey can never be a tomato. Being a middle child is what sets me apart. Most people realize the symptoms of middle child syndrome, but never acknowledge that there are results from it. Being a middle child cultivates a need to be noticed, a need to be different. This comes off as selfish, but it is the exact opposite. I want to make a difference in the life of every single person I come across in life. There’s no way to do this unless I break free from the shadows. Although I may not have specific dreams and aspirations set in stone, I’m not worried about it because I know I will make it happen. Call me crazy, but I can’t help it – I have middle child syndrome.
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