Confusion Corner: Forging a unique path outside of older sibling’s footsteps

As the youngest sibling in my family, with an older brother responsible for the majority of my scarring childhood memories, I always wanted to be the one to do something completely  new and original. Imagine my dismay when my brother graduated from the College of William and Mary in 2007, and I fell in love with the very school I had been trying so hard to avoid. Contrary to what my conscience and reason insisted upon, two years after his graduation I swallowed the few remnants left of my pride and embarked on my own College experience, fearing that it would be no different from the one my brother had lived through just a few short years before.

When I arrived on campus that brutally hot August day in the summer of 2009, my goal was to do everything my brother had never done. My first task was to sign up for sorority recruitment and join a Greek organization my brother still teases me about each and every single day. The second was to join all the activities he had never tried, so I signed up for Club Tennis, Cupcakes for a Cause, Net Impact, Tribe Ambassadors and every other club not remotely similar to his interests. Regrettably, my plan to avoid my brother’s experience would not be as successful as I had hoped.

My plan was to live in the best on-campus housing and to send my brother constant pictures of my much more spacious dorm room. Unfortunately, my brother had been the first generation of students to live in the newly built Jamestown dorms, making my freshman housing expectations significantly higher than the Botetourt dorm I was assigned to. And while I could never inhabit the Dillard Complex my brother had told so many ghost stories about, I have spent three of my four years at the College living no more than 200 feet away from his dorm.

Academically, I wanted to be the smartest sibling, but by sophomore year, I had the same GPA my brother had graduated with. It also did not help that much like him, I seemed to prefer history and psychology courses, which I then forced myself to avoid as long as possible. The fact that professors and past staff recognized me as “Leo’s little sister” was also discouraging — as a freshman in college, “little sister” was the last nickname I wanted to be assigned.

Luckily, by the end of freshman year, I had an incredible realization. Despite the few reminders of my brother’s own time here at the College a short few years ago, our experiences could not have been more different. His undertakings of sneaking into the Wren Crypt and crawling through steam tunnels were not ones I could imitate — the entrances were bricked off during my freshman year — but I was able to find an infinite number of other traditions I could call my own. Because of our different personalities, we got involved in different things, and in turn we came to love the College for our very own reasons. He complained the College was too small and told me I should have gone to the University of Virginia, but I felt confident the student body was not a single student too large or too small. While he complained there was never any parking, I soon realized I was much more successful in terms of the number of parking tickets I’ve collected. He complained about the lack of food, while I spent the majority of the money in my food bank on Wawa lattes.

So here I am, with a few short months left to go, and three years of wonderful memories now behind me, and I now see that there was not a single morning I wished I had made a different decision. And much like my brother, if I had a slightly younger sibling, I would tell them the same thing: Don’t go to my graduation, because you may just fall prey to the very same love at first sight.

Dasha Godunova is a Confusion Corner columnist whose 11-year-old stepbrother has already assured her that he will be attending the College because “that’s where all your cool friends come from.”


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