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I grew up as an only child for the first eleven years of my life. During that time I never had many friends, I am what one would call a “sheltered child,” my one true friend being an overwhelming feeling of loneliness, perpetuated by my inability to connect with others easily. So I wished, I wished to the one person I knew to wish to. My mother. I wished that she could bring me siblings, quite a selfish desire now that I look back but childhood naivety prevented me from seeing it for quite some time. Finally when I was ten, my mother and step-father told me that my mother was pregnant with twins. I was utterly filled with giddy childish excitement as my wish would be granted.

It began on a typical day, yet something atypical was occurring. My sisters would be born in the afternoon. I waited for what had to be hours for my mother to finish giving labor, feeling nothing but excitement and joy. Finally the doctor allowed me into the room and I saw them, my sisters. I was allowed to hold them and in that moment I felt so much love, and for a time I forgot my old friend. But reality snatched my daydreams like a malevolent dream catcher. My mother and step-father separated and began the lengthy process of divorce, leaving me with more responsibility than I had before. There were many times that I had to watch them and take care of them. Eventually I realized something; I would never find what I was looking for in them, or at the very least it wouldn’t happen for a long long time. I was looking for people I could relate to, people I could talk to when I had problems. My mother used to be that person but during the divorce our relationship began fragmenting. She became too busy for me. That isn’t to say she was negligent, but she quite literally had no time for me. She was dealing with two newborns, a messy divorce, and a new job.

I love my sisters, but I was looking for someone who could comfort me. It's kinda ironic, I ended up becoming what I was looking for, I became someone who would comfort them when they needed me when I was looking for that same comfort. I sometimes feel this disappointment, I’m disappointed that my sisters weren’t what I imagined. Yet I’m more disappointed in these negative feelings than I am them, because no matter what I love my sisters and I wouldn’t change them for the world. I expected them to be something else but they wouldn’t be the two girls I love so dearly if they were what I wanted them to be, nor would I be the same person.

Now my sisters are six, and I am seventeen, I’m not as lonely as I once was. Frankly I think I’m happier than ever, a surprising outcome to the worst four years of my short life. The most important thing that I learned from all of this is that expectations can’t always meet reality. So you need to keep realistic expectations for not just other people, but yourself as well. One of the biggest realities of America is the societal pressure to achieve something great, to be the next propagator of change. I think that part of what it means to be American is learning how to manage these societal expectations with personal expectations.

© Xander Way . All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team and we can put you in touch with the author’s teacher.