All my life, I have heard my family say to me, “give up, you are the older one. You need to be bigger. You don’t need this,” or “give this/that up, you are older, you should learn to sacrifice for others and your younger ones, you should apologize to them because you are older, you need to be the bigger person.” So, I did. I gave up my favorite toys so my younger sister and younger cousins could play with them. I sat quietly and watched my mother give my younger sister more dolls, the beautiful barbies with the latest clothes that was revered by any four year old. I gave up my books to my friends at school, my favorite place to sit in class, my favorite corner on the school field where I used to hide and sit after being bullied by ignorant teenage girls in my class.
All this time, I kept giving up things, watching things happen around me, sometimes be part of things I had nothing to do with and had no control over. What I failed to realize is that I was equipped with this beaten-in knowledge, the knowledge that “I need to give up,” that “I need to be a bigger person” was an incomplete one. Why do I need to give up? Why do I need to be a bigger person all the time? Why did I feel stepped on so much? My family told me I need to, but never explained that need. That willingness to give up everything got me - well, nowhere. It just made me really really angry. Really angry that I could not be a little selfish after 24 years of my life being the person who gave up everything and only knew that it was the right thing to do, but not sure why.
I gave up so much from such a young age, I never thought I would have to give up the biggest dream of my life - I gave up my dream of a big wedding, with all my nearest and dearest ones around me, that ultimate celebration of a union that is a bond every girl remembers forever; the one day that you are allowed to be the center of your universe, where you are the glowing and radiantly happy center; you get everybody’s attention and everybody, despite your relationship with them - will love you and wish you well. That single moment of joy, happiness and emotions that one can feel. Majority of women want this dream - to get married and wear that beautiful red, the color that separates them from everyone else in that room, for that one day.
I have given up a career back in Toronto to be in a place where I don’t have many friends, where I cannot work legally, where the weather is grey most of the time, and where the brink of my days goes in spending my time on mindless things just because I have gotten too comfortable and demotivated, and have little confidence in myself. As a good friend pointed out, “I have lost the fire.” If she only knew.
I have given up so much I feel empty inside. I am alive, I am breathing. I appreciate nature and everything around me. Yet, I can’t help feeling empty inside. My whole life I have looked for a reason. What can it be? why has love become the center of the self for me? why is it so important that I be around people who value my emotions and happiness more than their own? When did this happen? Well, because I have given up my ‘self’ along with giving up my toy, my doll, my book, my seat, my wedding day. I have done that since the age of four way too many times, more time I can count or remember. And because I understand what having to give up people, moments, memories, things feels like - I have always wanted to be around those who value my needs more than they value their own - because that automatically means I will value theirs equally if not more and strive to do exactly that - give up, but give up happily, knowingly, and with good reason.
This has not happened on a consistent basis and I am still empty. I am older, maybe wiser, or as a lot of those people around me feel, that I am stupider, with this knowledge I remain empty.
I want to be able to say, I have given up enough, I don’t want to give up any more, any longer. I want to be able to say, it wasn’t my fault that I was born the older one, and I don’t think that constitutes me having to assume a role you want me to, it has to be a role I want to assume. I want to be selfish, I want to be bad, I want to be it.
But I can’t. because that too, will leave me empty.