I often wonder what makes me ME. I wish I could list each and every facet of my being – everything from my interests, goals, & values to my weaknesses & faults – and identify the source for each corresponding sliver of my identity. The exercise might yield a result such as this:
- Desire to See the World —> National Geographic Magazine
- Love of Music —> Elementary School Music Class
- Aim t0 Make an Impact —> Political Rally in D.C.
- Work Ethic —> Parents
- Fear of Heights —> Ice Climbing Trip
- Results Orientation —> Boss from Bank of America
My main reason for yearning this sort of wisdom is so I can isolate and understand the influence my brother has had on me. I can’t help it – I do frequently wonder who I would be if I had all ‘normal’ (I hate that word) siblings. This is NOT because I wish I could be that other person without an autistic brother. This is because I feel unique in the perspective I have on life due to my brother – and I want to know what I can specifically appreciate because of him.
I certainly exhibit traits and endure thought processes that appear very obviously connected to my aforementioned sibling experiences. Namely, I do not take for granted the ease with which I am able to navigate through life. I am not referring to anything nearly as complex as professional deliverables or financial goals. I’m referring to seemingly simple things like living independently, verbalizing what is on my mind, tying my shoes, or even reading this blog. Perhaps since I know the frustrations my brother may encounter in each one of these endeavors, I don’t ever want to take these capabilities for granted.
Not as immediately apparent, but certainly linked, are the aspects of ME that can be attributed to my birth order…or more so to my disregard for birth order. As I mentioned in my first post, I am biologically a middle child yet developmentally the oldest. I’ve been told on several occasions – and upon introspection I feel this to be true – that I sometimes exhibit qualities more common to first borns than to middle children. My family has footage to prove I was ‘assertive‘ (my attempt at putting a positive spin on ‘bossy’) in my youth…and I certainly illustrated a level of discipline supposedly inherent to eldest children (how about strategizing for college during my freshman year of high school?).
Then there are the characteristics of ME that I mostly theorize are products of my brother’s influence on me. Would I otherwise have a passion for health care? Is my desire to travel the world out of knowing my brother can’t? Could it be that my love for learning foreign languages stems from my appreciation for his language of communication?
In my 31 years I have certainly come up with many theories to this end…and while I’ll never know precisely the impression my brother has made on my identity, it gives me butterflies in my stomach just knowing that he is woven into the quilt of me.