Siblings with huge age gaps

By Evan Lynn
October 17, 2019

Me (left) and my sister, Bridget. Photo by Bridget Lynn

As a small child, I never realized my family was atypical. I have two parents and a sister. Growing up, all my friends were either hanging out with or beating up/ torturing their younger or older siblings. I never dealt with that. My sister, Bridget, is eight years older than me. I remember starting middle school and she was starting college. I was graduating high school and she was graduating from graduate school. Because of our huge age gap, we’ve always been in two very different life stages.

Bridget is one of my best friends. Part of the reason we get along so well is that we are polar opposites. I’m much more reserved, methodical and schedule oriented. Bridget is more carefree, spontaneous and outgoing. We balance each other out. She encourages me to live more in the moment and I try to remind her there is nothing wrong with planning things in advance.

This is a common phenomenon with siblings and there is even research to back it up. “Turns out that on tests that measure personality — stuff like how extroverted you are, how conscientious — siblings are practically like strangers,” Alix Spiegal, radio producer and science journalist with National Public Radio (NPR) wrote. “In fact, in terms of personality, we are similar to our siblings only about 20 percent of the time.”

Me (left) and Bridget in 2007. Photo by Bridget Lynn

Bridget was one of my deciding factors in attending Cabrini University. I knew I always wanted to be a communication major but I didn’t know what college would be the perfect fit for me. After graduating from Penncrest in 2015, I took a year off and then enrolled at the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, a two-year community college, as a liberal arts major. During my last semester at PIT, I remember feeling very stressed out about transferring. Like any younger sibling, I asked my big sister what she thought I should do. She immediately told me without hesitation to apply at Cabrini. She had always raved about her experience as an undergraduate and graduate student.

Kaitlin Mulhere, author for Inside HigherEd, shared research conducted by Harvard University about the impact older siblings have on younger siblings’ college choice. “The study found that 69 percent of younger siblings enrolled in the same type of college as their older sibling (either a two-year or four-year institution), while 31 percent of younger siblings applied to the college their older sibling attended.”

Me(left) and Bridget in 2010. Photo by Bridget Lynn

One of the best things about having an older sibling is having a built-in support system who has already gone through everything you are going through now. Bridget is a great sounding board, encouraging, and helpful with every obstacle I encounter.

I like to think I am a valuable asset to her too. Bridget may not be asking me for advice a lot, but she does confide in me before making any major life decisions. In a lot of ways, I think Bridget has helped shaped me into the person I am today and I consider myself lucky to have her as a sister and our age gap has been a blessing.

Barsha Nag Bhowmick, Times of India writer, wrote it best: “Having a sister or a brother is like having a best friend you can’t get rid of. You know whatever you do, they will still be there.”

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Evan Lynn

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