Auntie SparkNotes: My Smartypants Sister Is Constantly Dissing Me
So believe it or not, this is not going to be an email about boys! The problem is my sister. She is a high schooler and is academically talented, and wants to apply to Ivy league schools and such. I am the opposite. Academics are not my forte. My talents are in music and I'm pursuing a degree for it. The thing is, the college I'm going to has a high acceptance rate, and is considered a "party school" and "backup school" (even though it is a big ten university). Because of these characteristics, my smart alec sister is always making condescending remarks about my low ACT scores and how I just barely scraped by. And even though my school has its strengths, the strengths aren't as competitive as other schools are. It infuriates me because I know the college is perfect for me, but all she says is true, too. And I don't want to keep quiet or else it's like she's won the battle for the millionth time. Auntie, what can I say to (let's put it bluntly) make her shut up?
To put it just as bluntly? Nothing. Not a single, solitary thing. Your sister is her own master, and it's not within your power to make her stop doing anything—short of using a powerful adhesive to glue your sister's mouth shut, of course, but let's just agree that the ideal solution to your problem is one which doesn't involve felony assault, permanent disfigurement, and/or jail time.
Which it doesn't by the way. Because more than a snappy comeback to your sister's obnoxious comments, what you really need is a little perspective. So, here's a fun thought experiment: picture the world's biggest, beefcake-iest alpha male jock—you know, the kind of guy who can bench-press 300 pounds and has biceps the size of basketballs. Now, imagine that Mr. Alpha Male is preparing to compete in the International Beefiest Bicep competition, an event at which he will surely perform beautifully. And now, imagine that Mr. Alpha Male chooses to spend his time immediately prior to said competition not putting in a little last-minute training time, and not by relaxing with a nice bag of Cheetos and some supportive friends, but by going to the beach, finding some bespectacled skinny guy reading a book, and kicking sand in his face 'til he cries.
Tell me, Sparkler: what might we conclude about Mr. Alpha Male, given this scenario? Does he seem happy? Confident? Mature? Or does he seem like a miserable, insecure jerk who only feels big when he's picking on somebody roughly one tenth his size?
I'm sure you see what I'm getting at, here, but just to spell it out: your sister is smart, driven, and planning to get an education at one of the country's most prestigious schools. She has every reason to feel great about her life, and she should, by all rights, be thrilled with the path she's on. And yet, instead of finding contentment and happiness in the pursuit of a goal that's right for her, she looks to feel good about herself by crapping on somebody who not only is no threat to her academically, but whose areas of interest and skill lie in a completely different area.
Why she's doing this is anyone's guess. Maybe she's feeling really freaked out about the competitive college application process. Maybe she's insanely jealous of your musical abilities. Maybe she's chafing at her assigned role of nerdy overachiever, and she resents you for being able to pursue a cool, artistic major at a school with a thriving social scene. But one thing is for sure, darling: your sister's obnoxious comments have nothing at all to do with you.
And as is so often the case when dealing with hateful behavior, your solution lies in asking yourself what your sister's comments say about her—and if you're going to respond, then to respond with that in mind. (For example: "I know what I got on the ACT, and that's why I'm going to Party School and studying music, which is something I'm good at. Do you want to tell me why you keep bringing this up?") Because hey, you said it yourself: you're at a school that's perfect for you, pursuing a major in line with your strengths. And when your sister opens her mouth to denigrate your abilities or your college, she isn't winning anything. In fact, the reason she says the things she does is because she has already lost—because unlike you, she can't feel good about herself unless it's at somebody else's expense. And you, my dear, have already won, and you'll keep on winning every day that you enjoy living your life without feeling the need to defend it.
Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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