Updated: Oct 3, 2019
This has been festering in my spirit for a while now. It's one of those things that you don't really know how to admit to yourself, much less openly express to another human being. It's something you've prayed fervently about because you feel guilty that it's something at all. It's a mix of ego and emotions rolled into a tight little knot in the pit of your stomach.
I envy my sister.
Sigh. There. I said it.
I've been trying to find the words to express this feeling for a while now. Preferably, a word other than envy. Because it's such an ugly-ass word. And SO uncomfortable to say. Like, how do you envy your own sister? That's terrible. It's not right.
But it's real.
And if I want to free myself of this spirit (yes, envy is a spirit), I have to be 100% real with myself. Like Christ said in John 8:32, the truth shall set you free.
So now that I've exposed my little demon, let me just set the record straight. I love my sister. To death. Unconditionally. I would kill for her. I would take a bullet for her. I will literally throw hands at anyone who comes at her sideways. I'm talking Solange-beating-Jay-in-the-elevator type hands, and I've never fought a day in my life lmao.
When my sister was first born, I was instantly hooked. Even though I was only four years old at the time, in my mind, she was MY child. All I wanted to do was hold her. Kiss her little cheeks. Name her Ashley. And when our parents decided to name her "Erin" instead, I threw a fit until we settled on making Ashley her middle name lol.
Erin and I never argued growing up. We always got along. Were always attached to the hip. Whenever my friends would come over for play dates, Erin would be right there playing with us. Whenever I would go to my friends' birthday parties, I would always ask if Erin could come with me. It got to a point where my mom had to sit me down and tell me it was okay to do some things without my sister. But I never wanted to -- that's how much I loved her.
Twenty-five years later, I feel the exact same way. And Erin and I are still close as ever. But the dynamics have shifted a bit from when we were kids. The little sister who once watched my every move is now a grown-ass woman forging her own path. The person who spent her entire childhood looking up to me has become one of the people I look up to the most. And it's not just me who looks up to her -- it's literally everyone.
Everyone who knows her personally.
Everyone who follows her on social media.
Everyone who tunes in to her YouTube channel of 32K+ subscribers (and counting).
Have you ever known someone who does everything so effortlessly to the point where it's damn-near perfect? Like even their screw-ups look good?
That person who seems to have this magical ability to inspire people simply by being themselves? That person who works just as hard -- if not harder -- as everyone else, but somehow still manages to make it all look so damn easy? And as much as you try not to, you can't help but compare yourself to this person. You can't help but feel a little off your game when you're around them. You can't help but feel a tinge of inadequacy when people ask you, "How's your sister?" before even thinking to ask how you're doing.
I wonder if Solange has ever experienced similar feelings towards Beyoncé. I can't imagine the amount of pressure and scrutiny that comes with being the sister of a global icon. For one, Solange is already the youngest sibling, so I'm sure growing up she was used to being compared to her older sister (which is probably what Erin experienced when we were younger). But then Beyoncé grows up to be...well...Beyoncé, and now the WHOLE WORLD is comparing everything about you to her. Your career to her career. Your style to her style. Your success to her success. While I can't relate to having Beyoncé for a sister (even though mine high-key thinks she's Beyoncé lol), I most certainly can relate to what having a sister in the spotlight feels like.
On one hand, it's truly incredible to witness this amazing human you love with all your heart shining her light and walking in her higher purpose. On the other hand, you feel slightly triggered by it. Because you're nowhere near where you want to be in life. Because you're a perfectionist who's hypercritical of herself. Because you still have self-doubt and insecurities you're working through. Because your perception of yourself has become predicated on how you compare to your sister.
Because you're human.
A year ago, I posted this photo of Erin and me on my IG page. I captioned it, "Bey & Solo"
Aside from the obvious nod to the dynamic sister duo, that caption had a much deeper meaning behind it. It spoke to us being two sisters with similar passions and interests, but different ways of expressing them. It spoke to our ability to be dope as hell together and in our own individual pursuits. It spoke to our ability to uplift, support and love on one another. And it spoke to our ability to share the spotlight, even when one of us may get a little more shine.
Like Solo loves Bey, I love Erin. I couldn't be more proud of her and everything she's accomplished in her 25 years, from being the first-ever digital correspondent of National Geographic to launching and running a thriving digital marketing business. But I've realized that as much as you can be genuinely proud of someone you love, self-doubt and insecurity can still find a way to get the best of you sometimes.
Thankfully, I'm overcoming.
By praying constantly. By affirming my gifts daily. By nurturing my strengths. By sharing how I feel with her. By writing this post. By letting her read it before I share it with the world. By recognizing that her wins are my wins, and vice versa. And by remembering that as long as we continue to uplift, love and support one another; as long as we're in each other's corners, we'll always win. We'll always come out on top.
Just like Bey & Solo.