What it Feels Like to Walk in Someone’s Shadow

By McKenna Kalisz // as told by Gianna Chiappetta

Gianna Chiappetta

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Behind Closed Doors
March 15, 2018

Gianna Chiapetta

McKenna Kalisz stands in the shadow of her older sister.

She’s my older sister. Without her, there wouldn’t be me.

Everyone always seems to be comparing us, which is ironic because Gabi and I are nothing alike. Growing up we were always seen in the same outfit, wearing the same shoes and coordinating the same hairstyle; yet, there hasn’t been a moment in time where I thought we were on the same page. We have a three year age gap, but that has never been an obstacle for my parents as they forced Gabi to hangout with me.

We have only gone to school together once, and that was when I was a freshman and Gabi was a senior. That year was by far the worst year of our relationship. I had few to no friends and it did not help that Gabi didn’t even want to acknowledge my existence. Our parents thought it would be a bright idea to make sure all of her friends were mine, which, as anyone could imagine, was a terrible idea. Gabi didn’t have a choice but to drive me to school, take me to all the football games and invite me to all her social events. I met a lot of new people and became close with all her people, but the one person who couldn’t have hated me more, was my sister.

We ran cross country together, which is one of the only things that we have in common, and even when we were on the same team, there was no denying the fact that she was my biggest competition. Gabi trained over the summer, which gave her a head start, but I was more athletic than her which made her summer training only beneficial for her own time and had no impact on mine. We never ran the same race, but a part of me wish we did. If I was running and in focus, then she would do anything to mess up my concentration. From yelling at me as she stood by the side lines to the looks she gave me when I finished my race, there was always tension between us. We always wanted the best for one another, even if that meant our best was being less than the other.

When we were little, we used to spend our weekends staying in our pajamas all day and watching television. Gabi was in charge of what we watched and one could only watch Project Runway so many times. I thought it would only be fair if I was able to watch one episode of my choice, but to no surprise, Gabi was not in favor of my idea. I got very angry when she refused to let me watch my show; I took the TV remote and I smacked her in the head. Was it wrong of me to hurt my sister? Yes. Did she cry? Like a big baby. Did I get in trouble? Yes, a lot of trouble.

With my sister and I consitantly fighting, my parents used to get worried if they didn’t hear one of us screaming bloody murder. When I cried I would go straight to my dad and when Gabi wanted me in trouble, she ran to my mom.

My dad is my absolute everything. I consider myself the son he never had, but always wanted. We do everything together, and I couldn’t imagine anyone else being my best friend. My dad is super protective over me, which I don’t mind because it shows he cares. But when Gabi was my age, she had different freedoms than I have now. Gabi was allowed to take the car to sleepovers and hang out with boys. The last time I went to a sleepover my dad drove me to it; when I asked to hangout with a boy, it took a week of begging to finally persuade him to say yes. You would think after raising one girl, my parents would be lenient on their second, but that wouldn’t be farther from the truth.

I’ve always been close with my family, and I wouldn’t change that for the world. My sister on the other hand is the exact opposite. When I’m out at a family dinner, my sister’s most likely out with her friends. Not that she doesn’t want to hang out with us, but she has more of a social life. She would rather be out having fun, while I prefer relaxing at home. Our families compare us a lot, but it’s only because they know us the best.

When I’m at school, it’s a whole different story. People believe we’re the same person, which aggravates me. Even though my sister already graduated high school, I can’t help but be living in her shadow. Teachers still confuse me with her and whenever people get a chance, they will talk about us as if we’re a package deal. It’s nice knowing my sister left a mark on the school, but when a majority use her success as a personal attack on my efforts, it sucks.

Since she has graduated high school, our relationship has grown tremendously. Being apart has brought us closer together, and spending time together isn’t a forceful act. We want to hangout with one another and be in each other’s lives.

I love my sister, but always having to prove I’m my own person is exhausting.