Overcoming family comparisons and disabilities

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Explore the journey of overcoming family comparisons and disabilities in this personal essay. Discover the challenges faced, the pressure to succeed, and the triumph of finding independence and success on one's own terms. Experience a story of resilience, self-discovery, and embracing individuality.

Overcoming family comparisons: a photo of a young woman staring at herself in the mirror

Overcoming family comparisons and disabilities

My family compares me to everyone else

My whole life, my family, compares me to everyone else that they think is better than me, from my brother to my young nephews to their friends’ children. They don’t even care if I have a disability. They think I could understand it, but I’m just too lazy to understand it. But the reality is, comparatively speaking, I am just me.

Ever feel like the world is pressuring you to succeed? That everybody has too many high expectations of you? And that when you can’t exceed those expectations, you feel like they’re comparing you to others better than you? I feel like that all the time because my family compares me to everyone else- all the time.

Because of my disabilities, the expectations and pressures to succeed make me feel like if I don’t succeed, I feel like I’m incompetent. As a child, I was always compared to the golden boy that was my brother-the one that could do anything, go anywhere without my parents worrying about him. When I was able to do something better than or as well as my sibling, they compared me to him. Like the little sister that I was, I was always trying to be like him, trying to be better than him, but it was hopeless. It was like a dog chasing its tail.

Every time I wanted to be better, I epically failed in school and at home. He was the good kid; I was the bad kid. My parents would often ask, ‘Why can’t you be like your brother?’ I feel like they hate me more and doted on him more. While he had so many friends, I just had a few friends that I didn’t even interact with outside of school. I hung out with my brother’s friends more, which my brother didn’t mind.

As children, we played together. But when we grew older, we stopped playing together as he developed other interests. The school was a struggle for me because of my disabilities. Socially, I didn’t have many friends, only a small circle of close buddies. Academically wise, I was bad in most subjects. After a couple of discouraging teachers, I gave up on school, which I regretted later on when I tried to get into college. My brother, however, was good in most subjects.

When he had time, he even tutored me in math, which was my worse subject. When we went to elementary school together, he was on the basketball team. But I didn’t join any sports teams because of my disabilities. However, I joined my classmates when we played sports during gym class.

In high school, I was isolated because it was hard for me to make new friends, though I joined the literary club. My brother started going clubbing as soon as he got his driver’s license. But due to my disability, that sixteen-year-old milestone for me never came to fruition. I never stepped foot inside a club, either.

"Overcoming family comparisons, I shattered the mold and defined my own version of triumph, proving that true success lies in embracing our individual journey."

Whilst my brother was having all the fun in the world, I was stuck at home with the TV as my babysitter. Girls are supposed to have sweet sixteen birthday parties. But for me, that never came to be. Due to me not having any friends at all in high school, I didn’t have a sweet sixteen.

When I gladly graduated from high school, I had to go to a community college first, then state university due to my horrible grades (it was a miracle I graduated at all!), whereas my brother went straight to the University of California after high school due to his many acceptances from many colleges. My brother and I chose different paths, so there was no point in catching up with him anymore. He became a computer whiz, and I became a self-published author.

When I heard the news that he got engaged to his girlfriend, I was disappointed because I always wanted to be the one to get married first. But I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise since he already had many life experiences. By now, he had two tweens.

I will never get a chance to have his sort of experience, like driving a car, going to clubs, or having a family of my own. Not that I want to, but it would be nice to have those kinds of options. I am happy at where I am- a self-published author.

My disabilities have held me back from life’s pleasures, but it has also kept me happy and independent and chasing my own possibilities and reaching my own goals. I have stepped out of my brother’s shadow and now claim a rightful place in this society. 

Overcoming family comparisons, I shattered the mold and defined my own version of triumph, proving that true success lies in embracing our individual journey.

Article by
Connie Chu

Connie Chu, the author of "Overcoming family comparisons and disabilities," is a native of San Francisco, California. Connie Chu doesn't let her disability define her. She is a self-published author of short stories and poetry. She has two novellas under her belt. She started writing way before she published her first book in high school for the school's literary magazine. When she reached community college, she continued writing for the literary magazine. At both schools, she was one of the editors. Her favorite genre to write is science fiction. Other genres include kids and women empowerment because people of color aren't the only groups who need empowerment.


"My whole life, my family, compares me to everyone else that they think is better than me, from my brother to my young nephews to their friends' children. They don't even care if I have a disability." | @Seventyfour / Adobe Stock