My father visited me before leaving for South Africa on holiday and we got to talking as usual. Something he said struck a chord.
“You know, I am so proud of Susan graduating medicine.” he mused
“Yeah, me too” I replied wholeheartedly
“You know she always kind of lived in your shadow.” He peered at me over the top of his glasses
“Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking.” Sometimes it seems we think exactly alike, frightening.
I have always been painfully aware that I am the eldest and so I got most of the opportunities. I won the cultural prizes at school, got all the good grades. I started Uni first, did postgrad, got a job first. I knew (or seemed to know) what I wanted from life and pretty much got there first too. Susan has now also achieved her goal. It’s unique, it’s difficult and she is successful. I couldn’t be more pleased or more proud of her. To top it all off, she’s married into a loving relationship and is well on her way to success.
Then, he continued with something else I was also thinking in the back of my mind
“Because, of course, you just did what everyone expected of you, she exceeded all our expectations.”
That’s just it. No one ever doubted that I would be outrageously successful. They all jokingly referred to me as the next Bill Gates. They expected me to go to University, study, do something academic and then go on to make lots and lots of money before the age of 30. I may not be Bill Gates but I am working on the making money part the old fashioned way: hard work.
But really, it’s as he said: I haven’t actually achieved beyond what was expected of me. Susan exceeded expectations and I met them. When students simply meet expectations at Uni we give them a B. In some ways, it seems like my life just got a B.