Sibling rivalry doesn’t really pertain to only our community but like the topic of parenting, there are still cultural implications that exist and they affect our family dynamics. It didn’t occur to me that I could explore this topic until I began reflecting on my relationship with my own sister just a couple weeks ago. I am very proud and excited to showcase my best friend and younger sister, Joanne Nguyen, in this episode. Look forward to an hour’s worth of her words of advice and encouragement as she brings us back to what it’s like for us growing up together and what our relationship is like now in this week’s episode.
Joanne Nguyen is an aspiring graphic designer and musician who finds solace in listening to Korean music (mainly R&B, her current obsession being DΞΔN) and watching dramas (currently watching Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, highly recommend if you’re looking for OTP cuteness). She’s currently a sophomore at Stanford University who thinks she wants to major in Communications and minor in East Asian Studies with a Korean subplan, but she’s still lost and trying to find her calling in life. She loves heart-to-hearts and dreams of one day opening a coffee shop in Korea where people can come to relax and have thought-provoking and deep conversations. She loves to create and perform whether that is through graphic designing, singing, dancing, or crocheting. Check out her portfolio at https://joannemainguyen.wordpress.com.
TRANSCRIBED BY LORENE ESPINELI
JESSICA NGUYEN, HOST: Today’s podcast is brought to you by Audible. Get a free audiobook download and 30 day free trial at audibletrial.com/projectvoice. Over 180,000 titles to choose from for your iPhone, Android, Kindle or MP3 player.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
JESSICA: Hey, y’all! Welcome to Project Voice! Heh, this is Jessica. And we are having to have a special episode, not that the other episodes aren't special but this one is particularly special because I get to interview my lovely younger sister, Joanne! Hey girl! J.K. I don’t say that to you. (LAUGHS) So originally we were going to actually brainstorm it out but I think it’s just better to just go like Joanne says, “Au Naturel,” right? You just want to go au naturel… natural with this?
JOANNE NGUYEN, INTERVIEWEE: Yes, go with the flow. You know... just winging it… Just kidding. Not winging it. It’s just like I think when it comes to topics like, for example, sibling rivalry. It’s a topic that I feel... that you can’t really brainstorm about it. You can but when you talk about it, you want to be in the moment in terms of the feelings you felt when you were younger. And it’s things that if I already planned out what I wanted to say, I don’t think I could fully convey or fully express all these emotions or all the memories that I had because I feel it’s like if I’m talking about memories from when I was younger, it’s the kind of things I want to be able to speak about it on the spot, right. So I think it comes off much more relatable. So, I think it’s better if we you know. Just do it!
JESSICA: Just do it! Like Nike. And that kid, Shia… right! [LAUGHS] So, Joanne. Why don’t you introduce yourself to us since… you know… I think you… yeah. I mean… I guess to start off (LAUGHS) to help you. (LAUGHS)
JOANNE: You know what. Wait. Let me start the episode I can do this. I’ll do this. I’ll do this. Okay. are you recording? I can start whenever?
JESSICA: Yes. Start whenever. No! Yeah! Actually, You should introduce yourself. (LAUGHS)
JOANNE: No. I got this. Wait wait... This is how you do it, Jessica.
JESSICA: (LAUGHS) Okay. I’m going to leave this in.
JOANNE: You be quiet. What?
JESSICA: I’m going to leave this in.
JOANNE: Just keep the silence and be quiet for a few seconds and then I’ll jump in and then I’ll start the podcast. Ok?
JESSICA: What the fuck? That’s already… No!
JOANNE: Just… just… just... just trust me. Just trust me.
JESSICA: This is MY podcast.
JOANNE: Just trust me.
JESSICA: Oh my god.
JOANNE: Wait. Jessica! Just trust me. You can always edit this later. Ready? Okay.
(MOMENT OF SILENCE)
Why, hello there audiences of Project Voice! You might not recognize my voice. I’m actually the special guest for this week’s podcast. My name is Joanne and also known as Jessica’s little sister. I’ve been the person [who’s] helping with designing stuff. S,o yeah. Hope you’ve been liking my artwork. And take you back to Jessica and she’ll be kind of introducing what the topic will be for this week.
JESSICA: You thought you did a better job of introducing? What is this? (LAUGHS)
JOANNE: I don’t know! (LAUGHS) I thought that was clever. I felt like I was a celebrity idol hosting a TV show. (LAUGHS) Back to you Jessica.
JESSICA: Okay. Well..
JOANNE: Okay. Just start. Whatever.
JESSICA: Okay. Awesome. So Joanne, yes, she is my younger sister of mine. We are three years apart, often at times I forget that. [LAUGHS] Just kidding. A-ha. But she goes to Stanford University majoring in… What are you majoring in?
JOANNE: I’m thinking Communications and East Asian Studies with a Korean subplan.
JESSICA: Dang. That’s cool. Go you. Yeah. That’s what she’s doing right now...Trying to figure out her life and I’m here, supposed to guide her. So I interview a lot of my friends. And it’s always been my plan to actually to interview you because we have conversations about this now and then at home, out in the public, just everywhere and maybe I’m just more of gung-ho about it but we feel it; we both feel it. So, since starting this project, I was wondering what topic we could touch upon this. There are so many because we touch on many. We live together. So, why not? This is just me being natural. Okay, Joanne? And...
JESSICA: I wanted to know. Oh, wait. And then we hit on a topic that really touches on our relationship! Sibling rivalry. And honestly though, I didn’t really think of it as a topic that I had a lot to say until you told me that you had a lot to say when you were younger about it. And then I’m like, “Whoa, tell me more about this.” And... that’s how we got started. So, today we are going to talk about sibling rivalry. I am pretty sure I have some things to say about this, so not to worry. But Joanne, please. Go first. What do you have to share? What do you have to share?
JOANNE: I mean. I guess in terms of… like you said. Slowly gradually is something I felt more when I was younger. As we got older, instead of seeing you as a competitor or a rival ,which I will elaborate more upon later, it’s- you are more of like a guiding figure to me now or like a role model. It’s not like you weren’t before but when I was younger… as a younger sibling who has an older sibling who is very smart and hardworking and just like a really great role model- like I did look up to you, but I guess the way our parents framed it, it made me feel very pressured to have feel I had to live up to the expectations that you set out. And I think it was definitely more difficult, especially during elementary school because we went to the same elementary school and most of the teachers I had around 1st through 5th grade, particularly 2nd and 3rd grade, we had the same teacher. So, it was kind of hard because I would enter the class they would know me as Jessica’s little sister. And to me, it was difficult because I just felt, I was living in your shadow in a sense. Oh, like, sometimes when they would see me, they would call me Jessica instead of Joanne and I would correct them. At times I felt proud, like ,wow I have such a smart sister and I’m glad to be [her sister]. She’s my sister and I’m really proud of that but at the same time, I’m also my own person so it’s kind of like difficult having to balance those two identities. But yeah, in terms of at home whenever, even if I do well in school, my parents would be like, “You got to be like Jessica.” They would always remind me, even as good as I am, “You always have to be as good as [Jessica] See how hardworking Jessica is? You have to push to be like that.” And so, there is always a constant reminder that at school or at home I was always your little sister. And it was an identity that I felt- like I was proud to have my big sister, but at the same time I wanted to be known as Joanne, as my own individual, not as Joanne, Jessica’s little sister. But that was something I struggled with more particularly during elementary school because afterwards... Middle school, it got better because we didn't go to the same middle school. High school, it kind of turned in a sense, because we did have some similar teachers but not all; it was nice because by the time high school came around… because at that time you've already moved on to college and I think there’s the distance in terms of you weren’t around home anymore. There’s not that always constant reminder of I’m being compared to you because we’re not in the same space. So, there’s that. Yeah. And I think… I mean I feel like, we’re really close already. I guess when we were younger, we argued a lot more but I think as we got older, we overlooked those differences because you know, we struggled a lot. I think it’s interesting because talking to my other friends, I didn’t realize actually despite what every sibling rivalry we had, that’s kind of, I feel like a very … not necessarily obvious but I feel like as siblings that would naturally come up but it’s shocking… not shocking but surprising to me when I was talking to my friends, how there were some people not close to their siblings, like at all. And I think it’s interesting, as much as we fought or I did feel like competitive towards you, and like I feel like I had to overcome and be an overachiever on all things like you did, we [were] also super close. We have a lot of… I wouldn’t say we have the same personality but we a lot of…
JESSICA: No, ha.
JOANNE: … =very overlapping interests in terms of creativeness like the idea of being artistic in some way, shape or form which I think is a bond which helped overcome the whole sibling rivalry. And it changed the aspects from seeing you as a rival to being someone as like this is someone I can identify with and this is someone that can guide me and it shouldn’t be my mission to overtake you or anything like that. It should be looking to all things that you’ve done, how that can be applied to me but I’m not necessarily following the path that you’ve set up.
JESSICA: Wow. Yeah. I knew that. I actually forgot about it. Elementary school. That was a while ago. A long time ago but obviously I wasn’t as aware and I didn’t know that those things had a huge effect on you and made you feel self-conscious about your identity… about where you are… [your] place in life. For me, I think, as an older sister, I felt more pressure to excel, to set up … to raise the bar for you… To set the expectations for you. Not just for you but honestly, I was more focused on myself as the older sister. So I did.. I wasn’t really concerned of what … obviously, I didn’t feel like you were a threat to me. Ha. Well, some older siblings do feel that way. Maybe because it depends on your parents, really, whether they favor the older child more or the younger child more for different reasons.
JESSICA: But I do believe that I had enough attention from our parents. I felt bad when I saw our parents telling you that you can always do better. I acknowledge that both of us worked hard…
JOANNE: Mm hmm.
JESSICA: worked as hard as we could wherever we were in life. It’s just that I was the older one and I did all these things first. I achieved things first. So our parents got to see... appreciated that I was the first one be able to [INAUDIBLE] on you…. that was something to admire. That doesn’t mean that your efforts have gone to waste. That doesn’t mean it was easier for you to have achieved the same obstacles that I have overcome.
JOANNE: Mm hmm.
JESSICA: They forget that. They probably assumed that because I was the older sister... and yeah, I definitely supported and guided you as much as I could but that doesn’t mean that you didn’t have work as hard or even harder when you were my age. And it’s hard to … it sucks to witness that but as the older sister, I guess the best way… the best thing I could do is to just tell our parents, “Hey,” and I have. “Hey, Joanne is working as hard… maybe you might not believe it. Just kidding!”
JESSICA. Joanne is working really hard here and we just work in different ways.” I think they expected it differently. [They] expected you to show more of a struggle. Personally for me, I had a hard time… harder time picking things up or I had to work harder to catch up to where everyone was. So, they appreciated the amount of effort I put into my work versus you who… sometimes it was a breeze for you. Sometimes… Yeah, you worked hard but you didn’t show it. So, it’s different. They definitely see the struggle I was going through and they didn’t see the struggle you were going through. And it varies, you know. That’s our specific sibling situation. There can be other reasons how rivalries develop but oftentimes the older sibling, like me, being able to set the bar as high and the parents just nagging on the younger child to live up to the expectations. It’s just that they have to realize that every child is different.
JOANNE: Yes, very true.
JESSICA: Every child is going to navigate their life in a different way. They have different goals, different definitions of success and happiness.
JESSICA: and that needs to be stressed. It’s hard. It’s a challenge because we’re young. At a younger age, definitely. You were just so focused on yourself, your own growth. Your own personal journey... that your siblings struggle… or for me that your sibling’s struggle is put on the side. Or oh, it’s not. I didn’t know, again, that it was a big of a deal until … now, looking back, how much of an impact it made. But yeah, sibling rivalry. There [are] different kinds of rivalry that happens up at different times. Like you, for instance. It’s more academic instances and it stems from teachers comparing or often mistaking you as me. But for me, I know that I felt that anyone- we were in Vietnamese class. Every Sunday we would go to temple and we would learn how to read, write in Vietnamese but you would always get the praises. You always got the attention and I felt threatened by that, actually. I was so used to being praised, being seen at better. Silly... I’m supposed to be better because I’m older, right?
JOANNE: Mm hmm.
JESSICA: And then taking those classes was a humbling experience for me because I realized that I am. Just because you’re younger doesn’t mean that you can be better than me in certain areas, you know?
JOANNE: Mm hmm.
JESSICA: (LAUGHS) Yeah, and so taking Vietnamese was an example of tension I felt. Some jealousy I felt towards you. So… Yeah. That’s how I felt. So, Joanne, what else do you want to say?
JOANNE: I think to bounce off of that... Because you were someone that I’m supposed to aspire to be like and you are a role model, I wonder if that plays into how much I need your approval in a lot of things. Like, whenever I do anything, I’m always like, “Oh, whoa, I need Jessica’s opinion. I need Jessica to look over this. I need Jessica to like…” and I wonder if that has to do with that whole… our relationship when were were younger and that dynamic of you being the older sister, the one that always knows better. And so, I always feel like in everything I do, I need Jessica’s [approval]. If Jessica would see this, and she approves it. It needed to go through your approval first. Like, in my applications. In my life’s decisions. And I don’t think that’s a necessarily bad thing. It’s great that I can come to you and be comfortable enough to talk about it but at the same time. I wonder if… maybe... part of it is because I’m indecisive. Part of it, I feel like it’s a built in... It’s kind of built in to me to feel like doubting myself. The idea of being able to choose something and knowing myself, I wish… I feel like my idea or opinion about myself in terms of a success and what’s best for me but sometimes I feel like that can be very foggy because I feel all my life has been defined by other people… like, “This is what’s best for you,” or like, “You should be more like Jessica.” So, I feel like that kind of, I feel like that may or may not have played a role in why I feel insecure, like I doubt my decisions sometimes. In my life, I freak out about how I always I need to get that second opinion and usually, that second opinion comes from you. And I wonder what are your thoughts on that.
JESSICA: Yeah, and it's so weird for me because I'm like, “Why is this girl asking me so many questions? Why is she constantly seeking for my approval?” I never understood that because I saw myself as someone who is independent… who's comfortable making her own decisions.... Who loves her space.... Who wants her own space and just wants to roll with it and have other people respect your space. In a way when you know, when you come to me, I don't mind answering these questions but at times I noticed they can be a bit too much, like you said, and it didn't hit me until now like you explained it to me and I understand it now and it's good that you are aware of it and that you are... you're acting you're aware of it, right? And you know why now. And so, that means that you don't need this approval, right?
JOANNE: Well, I mean, I understand that it doesn't necessarily mean that it's something that I can fix right away and I need to actually be like, “Don't talk to Jessica about it.” Yes I think it's something I realized that I think it's something I need to work on which it's a struggle, though. It’s like, again, it's like having to... the idea of seeking approval from other people that is something that I'm working on for a really long time and I feel like it's something I definitely tackled and be able to resolve much more ever since college and for the most part, in terms of other people, I'm definitely like, I don't really need that anymore but I feel like, I think it's because I'm family, you're such a good role model to me. Maybe I just need to reframe it - instead of seeing it like seeking your approval but asking for your guidance. I think it all comes really down to me just being able to figure out what's the best for me and just knowing myself better but I think I don't necessarily need to be so harsh to myself and I talked to many of my friends a little about it. It's in terms of finding who you are and what your purpose is. It's like an ongoing journey and it's not something is that because you force yourself to find it, you [will] find it. I just need to learn... I feel like I'm just impatient and I feel like it's weird. I ask people for their opinions and stuff like that. But sometimes, I feel like like I know what I want and then I'm like, “Do I?” and then I start questioning myself. I don't know why I do that and also like another thing is like I asked people about their opinions on some things and there are suggestions or their ideas and stuff but then when they don't do it as fast as I want as I want them to do I'm just kind of like I get very impatient about it too. But it's not always unreasonable because there's a lot of times I'm just the kind of person I just want things to get done, done, done and I don't like having to wait.
JESSICA: Very ambitious.
JOANNE: I don’t think… Yeah. I feel like I used to be… I used to kinda maybe procrastinate but I don't think I actually do that anymore. Is that procrastinate? My definition of procrastination. It's for other people working early or were for working on time. I'm just like, “Interesting.” I just want to avoid the stress that I get when I procrastinate... if I procrastinate but I'm also stressing myself to not to [procrastinate]. I don't know I work ahead and I stress myself even when I'm working ahead and I'm like, “Why am I... It’s like, how do I even win at this game?”
JESSICA: No, that’s fine. I think... I think you've gotten so used to listening to what others have told you what to do, especially our parents. They really just care about you; they just want you to be on the same track as I did and so... You know this already, right? And they just want the best for you and honestly, that's what our parents are and I think every parent is like that. They don't really want to foster the survival for you, this competition between us but they unintentionally have done it and it has been. It can build an awkward relationship between the siblings, right? And I think as the older sister, sometimes I feel helpless because I don't know what I can do to help you... help you and end up in a better position at home. I mean, when it comes to school, it's easier. I can guide you. I can help you with problems that you have, problems with on your homework or something but at home, it’s like I'll try to encourage our parents to be more open-minded and understanding that you are a different person. You have your own struggles, too, your own personal struggles and just because you may not have issues in this [topic], it doesn't mean that you don't have issues and others, right?
JESSICA: And that's something you're going to want to consider, I think especially when you're [a] younger sister, you're experiencing different struggles already in that position. But going back as an older sister, I obviously I think it is an immature for me to think that you are a threat or that it's always good as the older sibling. As all older siblings should be supportive and supportive and just open to younger siblings at all times and being as communicative as possible because we are the older ones, we should know better and because we should know better, we need to be the first ones to to reach out to to initiate contact.
JOANNE: Mm hmm.
JESSICA: To initiate communication and just offering ourselves as a source of solace, as a source of comfort and guidance and I hope I was to you.
JOANNE: Yeah, you were.
JESSICA: Thanks, thanks, girl!
JOANNE: And I mean the thing is... Like I said before, I've talked to friends and they’re like a lot of times they're not super close to their siblings so I feel like… with siblings, like any other type of relationship you want to be able to openly communicate and both have to care about each other, obviously. And in doing that, you know, if you had real struggles you would come and reach out to each other. So I think... siblings, like what you said, how an older sibling gets older, maybe it’s less intimidating for them to have to reach out but I also think as a younger sibling, you also have to listen and you can't always be caught up in the fact. I think sometimes when I was younger whatever you tried to talk to me, I’d be like, “Oh, yeah, you're trying to talk to me in a position of superiority because that's where our parents placed you.” I felt like you were nagging... I felt as if you were like, "I told you so," that position of power or privilege or whatever. But I feel like again, I think we have to be open. She’s speaking to me as my sister who cares about me who is trying to help me out of that situation; she doesn't want it to be like an older sister-younger sister... that's a good relationship to have to the point you can't be able to... you feel... if you always feel like a constant rivalry, I don't think that's healthy. ‘Cause I don’t think competitive is a bad thing. I think competitiveness leads to ...
JOANNE: Ambition and I feel it can help you if you help motivate you to work harder. It definitely did.
JOANNE: I think that there’s a thing. Healthy dosage of competitiveness exists and once you pass a certain threshold, then it just becomes... You know, we're sisters. Our life isn't supposed to be a competition where we try to beat each other because that's not the point, right? We're sisters and I feel like it's because we both realize that as sisters, we've gone through so much of the same thing, like you know, family drama, friend situation, our living situation. All that. Instead of seeing each other as a rival or an enemy. Again, like you said, a source of solace. We are comrades. We're in this together.
JOANNE: You know once you realize that, it changes the way you... you can view ... or like the idea of competitiveness. For example, like now, it also... maybe it's because of our age gap [of] three years. It's not a lot to the point where we wouldn't have things to talk about (not like we don't have things to talk about) but it’s not such a huge age gap where there would be some generation gap that we don't... that we wouldn't have spent a lot of time with each other because you'd be off to college and I'd be still in elementary school. It's not too small like a year, where it’d be like the whole comparison where it would be worse than it is... that I spoke of before but I still think it's at that three year gap where we are in different phases of our lives. So, it's like, speaking to you, for me, is a learning experience because I get to see the different things that you've gone through understanding that not the same things that I’ll exactly go through but it’s things that I should consider or take into consideration. I don't know if this is true for you but maybe, talking to me or someone who is younger… yes, I haven't gone through your shoes but I also have my own perspectives and opinions of your younger sister and I feel like ,maybe it could be a fresh take on a problem. Or I think when it comes to when you're having… like in different phases of your life, that competitiveness doesn't really exist as much anymore because you're not... it's not like we're both in elementary school trying to beat each other in a spelling bee or something like that. I think we also have become much more mature in our relationship with each other as individuals and also as sisters, too.
JESSICA: Mm.That was good, Joanne. Just adding on to what you are saying, I definitely agree that you should view your sibling as a comrade. Try to invest in that relationship. Try to foster that relationship. We see each other as best friends. We're basically best friends with each other.
JESSICA: We tell each other everything even like the most annoying things, the little details... We just share.
JOANNE: Yes. But I also would like to say as a disclaimer, that the idea of being a comrade to your siblings. I understand that not every sibling is super close and you're not forced to be. You're not entitled. Just because your siblings to someone doesn't mean they have to become your best friend. You know. We're people... There's always ... not necessarily a fate. There's a certain chemistry of whether or not you get along with them or not. So, even if you don't become best friends with your siblings, I think at the end of the day, trying to understand where they're coming from and trying to understand that you should be there just support each other. I think that's a good mindset to have ,but you shouldn't have to force yourself to think, "Oh, other siblings are super close so I have to be super close [to my siblings]. If I'm not, there's something wrong with us." There's nothing wrong with that. I think the closeness that you have with your sibling will depend and it will vary depending on people because you're talking about two people. Even if they are family, there's still two individuals; so personalities might clash. Values might clash. I think at the end of the day, I think it's important to not think of your sibling as an enemy or as someone that you always have to beat out of some sort of competition and I think, because at the end of the day, it's... it's not productive or healthy in any way for either of you to have that sort of mindset. But that's also just my own personal opinion and it's... always better to think that you have one more friend than one more enemy out there, right? Especially if they're related to you by blood. Like there's someone that you will have to encounter again and again in your life, most likely. If there [are] are other circumstances then that's different. But someone you having to encounter at family gatherings or living in the same house, I feel like your trying to make the best of the situation... If the situation doesn't have to been seen in a bad light and you don't have to see them in that way, I feel like it's always better to not have to do that. And the idea of giving the benefit of the doubt as well is good to keep in mind.
JESSICA: Oh, yeah. Everything you said, girl! Everything you said. Ha, I’m so proud of you Joanne. You’ve come so far. (LAUGHS) Anyway, yeah. As I was saying.. .but if you do have the opportunity, that if you're close to your sibling, invest that relationship. See that person as an ally because it really helps many times.
JOANNE: Mm hmm.
JESSICA: Like when were were living together… ‘Cause there are bigger enemies out there. Like our parents. Just kidding! (LAUGHS)
JOANNE: El oh el, though, but for real, sometimes that is the case.
JESSICA: Yes, bigger oppressive forces out there. So, you have to team up with what you have… what you got is and what you got is what you have! I mean, what you have is your sibling. Or your siblings. We always watch out for each other.. .that’s what I love about our relationship. The fact that we can trust each other and look out for each other when we need to because we understand the struggles… The negative consequences when we don’t have each other’s backs.
JOANNE: Yeah. And like again, kind of reinforcing but also connecting the dots and in terms about what I talked about earlier... The idea of a sibling being a mentor, whether they are older or younger than you, a mentor or guidance or like a voice of reason, voice of wisdom. I think it's easier, sometimes, to be able to speak to your siblings about certain things compared to your parents because your parents, they're not... they don't live... they don't necessarily always go through as similar of an experience; there’s maybe a cultural gap or generation gap or some sort of situation. I feel like usually [with] your siblings, it’s much easier to be able for them to talk about problems and reasons that they’re most likely to go through that you would go through. And I feel like because, at least from speaking from our situation because we grew up together, I think we also have similar values and ideas that I think in times of when I feel super depressed or super lost and confused about certain things. Having you be there as a voice of reason.
JOANNE: … is super helpful because you do mirror the things I believe in, obviously with your own take on it, but at the core, we believe and have similar values, so that you kind of help me remind [myself] when I’m lost or depressed, these are things we both are passionate about… we both feel a certain way about things so I think that having that voice of reason also helps and that also has to go in you wanting to invest into that relationship and you building that relationship so that you can have that person there for you, right? And, I mean this is something… a relationship you can build with a friend but you can also consider like, almost like a sibling but talking about in a specific scenario. Like, in terms of the siblings that you have and related by blood. I think that’s important, another reason why, it’s a good reason/opportunity to make the most of that relationship.
JESSICA: Yeah. So the moral of the story here is… respect your elders, [LAUGHS] including your older sibling. (LAUGHS) Yes. Just kidding.
JOANNE: But also, respect your younger siblings and what they have to say because just because they are younger doesn’t mean they don’t know any better because wisdom is not defined by age, right?
JESSICA: That’s true.
JOANNE: And it’s all about gaining perspective. And I feel like having a sibling is just that. Like having more perspective, having a second opinion. And I think, like in everything in life, it’s always a balance. You want to have that voice of reason. You want to have someone else there for you but also remaining as an independent individual in terms of your own wants and your own needs because a lot of times, you should know what's best for you. Your siblings may help with that, too, but at the end of the day, they’re not always going to be next to you 24/7. So, again, it’s a balance. In anything in life, you’re going to have to balance that relationship… just make the most out of it. There’s a lot going on in this world already, like Jessica said. So much wrong or there’s so many possibly bad people out there... so, if you can make the most and make good relationships out of what you have, why not, right?
JESSICA: Yeah. Damn, Joanne. I had something to say but then I forgot because you were just so awesome and I was at a loss of words.
JOANNE: Wow. Thank you.
JESSICA: Yeah. I want to add it’s easier for us to bond because we are both girls...
JESSICA: And gender... bond can help or it can be separating sometimes. Since we are both sisters, it’s easier to talk about certain topics to each other because we’re going through similar experiences, like we talk about guys and we talk about periods. We talk about women struggles but for siblings, who you know, have brother and sisters who have their own experiences but that doesn’t mean you can’t be as close, you can’t be best friends. Of course, you can be best friends! It’s just a different experience and you just have to find your own ways of connecting to each other. But sometimes it won’t be the same hobbies or interests but eventually you’ll find something that will overlap.
JOANNE: I think, talking about that, I have a friend of mine, one of my closest friends. He and his sister are actually super close. And I think it’s … I think… from talking to him, it’s interesting to like keep up with it … not like I haven’t heard about it but I haven’t encountered it before, but when talking to him and how he and his sister are so close, it’s because they’re so open to each other. When you think about it, it’s kind of cool that if you have a brother/sister dynamic and they’re really close because you get the best of both worlds.
JOANNE: You get the guy’s perspective, you get the girl’s perspective, right?
JOANNE: So that’s like super valuable. That’s like super valuable, too. So, once again, I think in any relation, even it’s not just sister/sister, it’s a sister/brother, you can definitely make the most out of it. You can definitely… there’s a lot you can gain and I want to use… and gain in a sense shouldn’t be weak… I guess, used in a selfish manner. And what I mean by that is that, it shouldn’t be like a one way street like, “Oh, make the most out of this relationship.” It’s mostly a mutually beneficial relationship, right? ‘Cause you’re siblings. You should be able to be there for each other, there to support each other and all that. And once again, I think even if it’s not like a same... sister/sister sister/brother, I think there [are] many ways you can connect. And also, there [are] definitely times that siblings/sister/brother can connect on hobbies and stuff because who’s to say that because a guy is a guy that he’s not into fashion or something like that. I have my friend and his sister is always messaging him: “Ooh, which Instagram pic is good?” or, “Do you think this outfit looks good?” I think it’s very narrow minded for people to think and I feel like it’s not necessarily the case anymore because I feel we’re much more open it or this idea of gender fluidity… What are guys supposed to be in to or what are girls supposed to be into… that’s a very open ended thing, right?
JESSICA: Yes… yes!
JOANNE: And I think there’s definitely things you can bond over even if you aren’t a sister/sister or sister/brother. Guys can probably tell you about your make-up and that’s not weird. You can talk to your… You know… and stuff like that. It should be topics that… if you think that… if you think that it’s a topic that you shouldn’t talk to your sibling just because you didn’t think they would be into it and you never really talk to them about it, you might be surprised. You never know… you never know. So, I think just … on the same note, in trying to deepen the relationship and be open minded. Also, just be cautiously curious, right? Just be… like, question: “Oh, hey, how do you feel about this…?” even if you don’t think they’ll be interested in it at first. Just be like, “Yo, what the heck…” why not? And I think sometimes in sibling relationships, we can definitely take it for granted. Sometimes, Jessica helps me a lot with things and I know it can so much on her and sometimes I forget that she also has her life to take care of and I’m sometimes impatient but again, in that mutually beneficial relationship, you also have to remember, again, you are individuals and you have your own lives too so while you’re seeking their support ,you have to remember that they’re also going through their struggles but I feel that you’re going to have to be considerate and mindful of what they’re going through, too. But...
JOANNE: That doesn’t mean that it should stop you from reaching out or speaking about topics or touching upon things that you don’t think they’d be into. ‘Cause you never really know until you try and if your siblings are there for you… I’m not saying you should be reckless, but you should speak without a filter. But yeah, they’re family. You should be able to do that but also if you know if that’s something that they’re uncomfortable with or they don’t want to talk about… be respectful of that but also, if it’s something that you feel strongly about and you feel like you can have a productive conversation about it, don’t be afraid to push each other. ‘Cause I think, again with the whole competitiveness, you’re also there to push each other to do better to be better versions of yourself, right? So, I think that’s also another thing you want to strive for in a relationship with your siblings. To push each other to be the best versions of yourselves. Yeah.
JESSICA: As you were saying all of that, I could not help but smile so widely. I’m so touched. I just want to hug you and just. Ahh! Come here, my baby! But anyway, we are separated by the distance. But that is just great. Let me have a moment here to take in all of that and I’m so glad that this is being recorded so I can listen to this again. [BOTH LAUGH] But yeah, Joanne was definitely right on something she talked about earlier. Wisdom is not gained through age. It comes with age but it’s gained from insight and this insight is gained from experience. From different experiences, from different exposures to life. And so sometimes, when your younger sister or younger sibling is going through something, you have to be aware of the struggle that they’re going through. You have to be understanding, you have to be patient and I think one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned as an older sister is that I have to be patient. I think I gradually turned into a tiger parent or another tigering parent for you and I forget to be empathetic. I forget to be sympathetic because I’ll be like, “I don’t understand why you are not understanding. I went through all of this so you should be able to go through all this smoothly. Or without question.” But everybody’s different, again. And that’s something to be open minded to and being the older sibling is a lot of responsibility, if you haven’t noticed. If you haven’t realized it yet. But like you said, after hearing everything you said, we should realize that… we should realize how much of an influence older siblings have over their younger siblings, more so than we thought. I didn’t know that until when I got older, like just being there and listening to you and not being cocky (LAUGHS) as heck.
JOANNE: Yes! Yes! Snaps to that. To piggyback off that, like you said, every person goes at their own pace. This is from a younger sibling’s perspective but it’s really helpful and nice when you’re talking to your own sibling and they’re not like, “Oh, I told you so…” or “You should have listened to me…” because, yeah, I know that and obviously, I should have listened to you but at the same time, if you didn’t phrase it that way it makes it so much … it makes it… mmm. Much more comfortable.
JOANNE: And it doesn’t make me feel as bad. Yes! Much more approachable. Because it’s not like.... I’m not coming to you to hear you tell me that I did wrong. I know I did wrong. That’s why I’m seeking your help. What I’m seeking… I think that’s also another thing that is important to note, that when you’re coming to each other, sometimes as the older sibling, it’s might be tempting to be like, “Of course, I told you so…” But it’s like, when younger siblings coming to you, a lot of times they want you to be able to comfort them and knowing that and not being all aaahhh. That cockiness or whatever you call it. I think being conscious of how… ‘cause in my situation, like I look up to you a lot. Whenever you say I… “ I told you so…” Even just the words. Being cautious with each other again. Like I said before, you don’t necessarily have to filter yourself all the time because you want to be your true self around each other. At the same time, you should be careful because you realize your impact with those words. If you were to tell me, “I’m so disappointed in you.” Those words would be so heavy. That would kill me. A lot. It would affect me very, very negatively… very, very heavily. So just understand the impact of your words and the actions of the things you do.
JESSICA: I didn’t know how much power I had. (LAUGHS) I did not know how much influence I had over you and when you told me this, when you first opened up about it, it clicked that I needed to be more careful about my words and another important thing to keep in mind, as siblings, it’s our natural tendencies to tease each other. That’s what all siblings do.
JOANNE: It’s normal.
JESSICA: Sometimes we go overboard, but the natural thing… to tease each other… make fun of with each other… play around with each other but it's important to be mindful of when you tease each other. Of when you use these words because I noticed that they can really negatively affect or hit the other person if it’s not the right time. If that makes sense. If I’m making fun of you when you’re in a not so good place already, then I should be… I’m probably the worst person to go to if you’re seeking comfort because I’ll probably tease or make jokes.
JOANNE: Yeah. Yeah. Definitely ,you need to work on at times.
JESSICA: Yeah… Don’t go to me when you’re crying. Sorry, guys… When people come to me and cry or vent about their problems, I just… I either react robotically or I react like I say “Suck it up,” or I’m like, “Oh, you’ll be fine… There, there child,” and then I can’t help but smile or laugh because that’s my natural way of coping with stress and it looks completely wrong. But anyway, I’m going off tangent here but everything you said (LAUGHS) I keep going to that… Be aware that you have a lot of things to learn, too. And not to be cocky, not to feel like you have to always have the right answers because you are always not and I’m talking to all of you older siblings out there, okay? And that’s something I need to work on, too. (LAUGHS) And it has been a humbling experience, we’re learning and growing with each other and it’s great. And if you’re someone who isn’t there yet, it’s a challenge but you can make it as your resolution to open up and connect with this person in your life because they can be an asset. They can become so much more if you open up to this person. Joanne, I feel special knowing that you open up to me.
JOANNE: I feel the same.
JESSICA: A lot of things that you don’t share with our parents and I think it’s healthy. You need to have that person to go to when you’re down and you’re at your… your greatest… you’re at not your greatest. At your worst.
JOANNE: I think it’s comforting because, at least for me, it’s nice to have Jessica because I have really close friends but I think at the end of the day, I feel like Jessica is a person I can be the most unfiltered with and that I won’t get judged. [LAUGHS] If that makes sense...
JESSICA: I’m the same.
JOANNE: I mean I know you… (JESSICA LAUGHS)
Everyone … But I don’t care if you judge me because I know you are my sister and at least that definition of ‘you are my sister’ means that we are like basically… I don’t know.
JESSICA: We’re binded for life.
JOANNE: I just feel comfortable being able to talk to you about these things. I can come to you. I know that I can talk about my insecurities and I don’t feel weird or feel judged or too uncomfortable being able to come to you. And I feel that’s really special. And that’s why I really treasure our sistership. If that is what you call it.
JESSICA: Ahh, this is so cute. Again, I love [that] this is being recorded. Yes. This was my secret plan all this time. To have all this was recorded so that when we’re old ladies, [LAUGHS] Thirty years from now, I can play it again and be like, “Ohhhh! Look at us. Listen to us. This was us.” And yeah, I agree with the handcuffs. Like, really. I feel so 100%… 200% comfortable sharing everything to my sister. And, yeah, she’ll judge me but we’re stuck with each other forever. Ha. We’re handcuffed into this relationship forever. It’s great. It’s the golden handcuffs. Is that what they call it? Golden handcuffs, or something?
JOANNE: I don’t know what… I don’t know.
JESSICA: Okay. I don’t know what the saying is… But I can be at my weirdest, my most eccentric self that I am and she’ll accept me for who I am and it’s great. I love it. I think it has that type of relationship that you should try and find in other relationships and ...
JESSICA: Our relationship is a model. A good healthy model to use for your other relationships.
JOANNE: I’m not saying that we’re perfect because that is definitely not… We’re not perfect.
JESSICA: No, we’re not.
JOANNE: But I think that the way… But just like… It’s a good way to or a good mindset to want to, in terms how you want to approach what it means to have someone you can confide in and someone that instead of… like the people around you. You’re surrounded by talented people and you want to be able to surround yourself with people who can make you better. And instead of seeing them as your competition or, I mean that’s fine, but it shouldn’t come to the point where you obsess over it.
JOANNE: That could be very unhealthy. Striving… I feel like in our relationships, you strive to make the best out of it as much as you can. Strive to be a better the version of yourself also help the other person to be a better version of themselves. But also, once again,something that kind of boils down to chemistry and just the right situation and just the right kind of people. It’s definitely something that can’t be forced. It’s something that you can put as much effort as you can and just try your best and just hope for the best. Hopefully, your sincerity and your genuine concern for the other person with shine through and they will come to understand that as well.
JESSICA: Mm hmm.Yeah. You too. I mean, yes, it is important to be mindful of each other’s struggles. Be mindful of each other’s need for their own spaces, for their own needs, again. But at the end of the day, you have each other. That’s all you have. That’s what I think. Sometimes, family is what you have at the end. [LAUGHS] If you have it… Or you have your own family… you created your own family, well, that’s the same thing. They’re there for you all the time. And that’s how I see you as. And also, going back to what you were saying about surrounding yourself with people who make you feel better, who make you become a better person. Your siblings have the potential to make you become a better person. They’re supposed to challenge you. They’re supposed to believe in you. They’re supposed to be there and support you. And you know it’s that relationship that we strive for. Also, we do fight. We fight a lot. We argue a lot.
JESSICA: I can not count how many times we’ve argued whenever we’re together. And it’s a very interesting dynamic. Sometimes, yes, I gain entertainment out of it but [LAUGHS] there’s always a limit. It is always important to keep in mind. But again, we all love each other and there are more important things in life and something, whatever you are arguing over… maybe. Maybe it’s something important, too, whatever you are arguing [about], but at the end of the day, I hope what you take away from this episode is that… there [are] two things. Two very important skills that you have to develop as a sibling, if you have a sibling. One is to listen. To be able to listen to the other person. To give them that space for them to speak everything they needed to be spoken. Two is develop the ability empathize/sympathize. So I think sympathizing is for older siblings and empathizing for younger siblings more. So older siblings, if you’ve gone through all of this, then you have to remind yourself that you’ve been through all of these challenges, too, and so you have to understand that your siblings need someone there to guide you during the obstacles that you needed help. For younger siblings, that ability to empathize and it can be hard because it requires a level of maturity and yeah, you’re younger but that doesn’t mean you don’t have the potential to develop that level of maturity, right?
JOANNE: Mm hmm.
JESSICA: So when you’re younger and you see your older sibling, either trying their best or not even trying their best you have to empathize that they’re not perfect human beings, either way. So you have to see that in a different light. And it’s challenging, I understand that. Actually, it’s challenging for both sides too. But it’s completely possible. It’s completely doable. And in when you get to develop these two skills, these skills will be so useful for you in your whole life, in every relationship that you have. The ability to listen and the ability to empathize/ sympathize. Yeah, that is what I hope my listeners take away from this episode. Joanne, what do you hope your… (LAUGHS) You have said a lot, so what is your final takeaway that you hope our listeners have gained from this episode?
JOANNE: I think you basically covered everything that I was thinking about . Pretty much make that most out of your relationships with the people around you that you have in your life, especially if they’re a part of you family. Once again, these skills are life skills that are very important: empathizing and being able to listen. And being able to … just being able to speak where the other person can hear where they are coming from and understanding that. And I also think on top of that, just this idea of being able to be vulnerable to someone else, especially to someone you consider very close to you. And it’s a very... strong thing. It takes a lot for someone to be vulnerable to another human being and I… it’s something that… It’s really important to get across to that and be comfortable with that. And also, on top of that, being able to show your love and appreciation for the people that are in your life that are able to support you, that you can confide in. I think those are, once again, other important things to do and to take away. Yeah. I think at the end of the day, having a sibling I feel like is a really special relationship that sometimes people can take for granted and I know that not every situation is the same… Not every siblings, every pair of siblings, not even pairs… not every relationship that has to do with your brothers or your sisters and [etcetera] is always going to be the best. But I feel like if you have the opportunity to make the best of it or maybe if it’s just a point of changing mindset of how you feel or how they feel. I think that you should try your best to make the most out of that relationship so I think it’s really special.
JESSICA: Aww, yeah. I think it’s special, too. Spaces and resources. Okay. See each other a resources. Spaces. Home can be a space. Try to go out and have one-on-one time with your siblings. Spend more time with your siblings. I think as we get older, I realize that we spend less time, unfortunately, because of the distance… because of our home/life situations. My sister is in college now in California and I’m at the other end of the country. At the opposite coast, the East Coast in Boston and so we don’t have as much time together physically but we make the most of it when we are. And we also, constantly communicate with each other. By far, this has been the most successful… this will always be the most successful long distance relationship I have in my life. (LAUGHS)
JOANNE: Haha.. yahhh.
JESSICA: Yeah. Is with my sister. We constantly chat every day. Either through Facebook Messenger, texting, Snapchat. Yes. Social media. Use social media. No, duh. And it’s fun. We share [with] each other articles, music videos, different video clips that we find that are funny. That’s how we still feel close to each other despite the distance that’s been between us for a couple of years- no, it’s been five years now, since I left for college. And yeah, when we’re together, we try to spend time with each other. We’re there for each other. Always. So before I get any more cheesy, I just wanted to thank you, my beloved sister, for coming on here… coming on to this podcast and sharing your voice. I absolutely love this episode so much. Hearing you, my sister, someone who is related to me by blood, come and speak on a project that I put my heart and soul into is just … it’s so touching. You don’t know. I love you.
JOANNE: Thank you.
JESSICA: I’m professing my love to you online. This is so romantic.
JOANNE: Okay. Alright.
JESSICA: I’m professing my love.
JOANNE: Okay, man.
JESSICA: Okay. I wish we could have a more casual channel where we can talk about other things. Maybe one day in the future. Anyway, thank you so much for tuning into this very special episode. Joanne, do you have anything else to say?
JOANNE: Yeah. I totally enjoyed coming to talk. I like having these life’s philosophical topics, especially when they have to deal with human connections and human relationships. I think it can be very complicated and just to be able to talk about it and I guess, at the same time, being able to reflect upon it also, it’s an opportunity to be appreciative, once again, of our relationship. Letting me to talk about it has been really cool. Yeah. I’d be super down in other episodes if you ever need me to so just hit me up. Yes. I really enjoyed talking to you about this. I think it helped me reach certain conclusions about my personality and like the things I need to work on in my life.
JESSICA: Same here.
JOANNE: And also, just the strength of our relationship as a sister. Is really valuable.
JESSICA: Mmm-hmm. Snaps to that. So, yeah. Thank you so much for tuning in to this very special episode. If you’re curious about what my sister is like, now you know! And now you know what we’re like together. Not really. I think there’s so much more you haven’t heard from us. You haven’t seen us in action. So I’m going to leave it at that. I’ll talk to you next time. If you have any questions, I’m always here. E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tweet me or send me a Facebook message. Yeah. Have a wonderful day. Call your loved ones and just tell them you love them and how much you appreciate them because you’re lucky to have them in your life… maybe.. .just kidding. (LAUGHS) Okay. Alright. Bye!
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