“Haha, Mikayla, I’m taller than you now!” my sister playfully jeered at me.
“Yeah, well, I fit perfectly under Mom’s chin!” I retorted, wrapping my arms around my mom and fitting myself, well, perfectly under her chin.
“Girls, girls,” my Mother chimed in as we crossed the street together in our beautiful, little New England town, “that’s enough.”
So, there I was: nestled under the chin of my mom while my sister confidently strutted next to us at a height nearing that of my 5’8 mother. I was 13 years old. A teenager. She was 12.
After years and years of watching my little sister beat me to about every life milestone, I guess it was finally starting to get to me. You would think having a younger sister like this would drive a girl crazy, but with constant love from my family and the ability to focus on the things I was good at, it turned all out okay.
My younger sister could blow a bubble before me, tie her hair in a ponytail before me, whistle before me (oh wait, I still can’t whistle). But that was all okay. I was just doing things at my own pace—Mom even said that. Until seventh grade rolled around.
She got her period, and you guessed it: before I did.
Within two years of that landmark, she grew taller than me. Then she developed breasts, hips and thighs. All the while, I would wear leggings under my jeans to make my legs look thicker.
Science teaches us that girls will typically begin developing in sixth grade, and so the race through puberty starts there. Girls’ bodies start to widen at the hips and shrink at the waists with boys ogling at these sudden metamorphoses. Of course I wanted to look “good” in the eyes of both my male and female peers, but I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t keeping up with how fast other girls were developing. So, it wasn’t like my sister was the sole source of my insecurities. She just wasn’t helping anything.
However, I was smart enough to recognize how I had other things going for me. Sure, I had skinny legs and narrow hips, but maybe it was these physical insecurities that pushed me to put my mind on the things that made me special.
For instance, I had always been recognized as a skilled writer in school and that notarity began to strengthen in seventh grade. I was also a pretty good soccer player, so you know I constantly worked that angle at the dinner table.
When high school rolled around, I really started to come into my own regarding sports and excelled as a sprinter on the high school track team. Pretty quickly into my freshman year season, I was practicing with the fastest girls in the group and by sophomore year, I was a part of the varisty 4×400 relay team which placed first in the All-State competition.
So, my sister was the one with impeccable makeup skills and an extra bubbly personality, while I could hold my own on the track and talk politics at the dinner table. We both were kind, studious and thoughtful kids. Turns out, no one else but me cared that my little sister was two inches taller than me and had hips that were exclusively reserved for women’s—not junior’s—jeans. In fact, by freshman year, I was starting to catch up to her.
I got my period spring of that year and, within months, grew several inches. So much so that by sophomore year, I was the tallest girl on the entire high school soccer team.
And how tall am I now?
And who is two inches shorter than me?
My younger sister.