Daily prompt: Footsteps? Make your own


When I was about 15, I decided in moment of wild resentment and bugger you then, to follow in my eldest sister’s footsteps all the way to Oxford (which was where she was headed at the time although she changed her mind later). It was a bad idea.

The resentment arose from the pleasure taken by various teachers in using my sisters’ achievements to prod me to greater effort. This was also a bad idea. One sister had been dux of the school, the other had been Senior Prefect. It was made clear that I needed to be both to justify my existence.

What they failed to realise (and I suppressed until years later) was that while I could dig up the odd leadership quality if push came to shove, I was essentially a loner and had no desire to lead anyone anywhere. And furthermore, while I had the requisite IQ (which I’m pretty sure has diminished with age), I loathed academic study with a deep and abiding loathing, and the thought of committing myself to a future of it was akin to lining up for a straitjacket, probably physical as well as psychological. So either way, the footsteps they insisted I follow in were completely alien and not conducive to rollicking forward momentum.

When my own children reached high school age, the four of them ended up at four different schools. This was never my intention, but it had huge benefits. Each one was in a place that suited their individual needs, and each of them could be their own person without measurement on a sibling yardstick.

So it seems to me that if you’re genuinely thrilled and stimulated by the idea of following in your parents’, godparents’, uncles’, aunts’, cousins or siblings’ footsteps then go for it, and with a bit of luck you’ll have a mentor to guide you on your way. But if you’re not, avoid it at all costs. Otherwise you’ll end up hobbling along like an aristocratic Chinese woman from a bygone age, with bound feet almost guaranteed to make you fall flat on your face.


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8 Responses to Daily prompt: Footsteps? Make your own

  1. wscottling says:

    We (my twin and I) were the oldest of five kids. My sister is like our mother in every way while I made the conscious decision about the same age your made yours to be as completely unlike our mother as I could. It’s strange how two people who look so much alike (we’re identical) can be so completely different.

    It’s also weird how many life changing decisions are made at and around the age of 15 or 16, isn’t it? ^_^

    • I’m fascinated. How hard is it to be an identical twin? (I’ve known those who hated each other, resenting that there was another the same.) And did your decision fit your personality, or was it made purely for the sake of rebellion?

      • wscottling says:

        I get that first question a lot. ^_^ I know this is gonna sound like I’m being sarcastic but I’m not. I honestly cannot answer that because I’ve never NOT been a twin so I have nothing to compare it to… My entire life experience has been “twin” so… How can I answer that? It’s like asking “What’s it like to have green eyes?” You know? My twin is my twin. She’s just… there. And there isn’t much I can do about it one way or another.

        As for my decision to be in every way unlike my mom… it was the very much in character for me AND for the sake of rebellion. It fit my personality to a T, and I’m the happier for it.

  2. For what it’s worth, our IQs peak around age 13. It’s all downhill from adolescence to obsolescence.

    I’m also no leader. Maybe I could, but I really hate it. The little bits I’ve been forced into were downright painful. I guess I’m lucky insofar as my brother and I were SO different, there was never a comparison to make.

    • I think the expectations are different as well, with different genders. The three of us were all of similar intelligence, and as far as the school was concerned, individuality should NEVER get in the way of conformity to their idea of ‘goodness’.

  3. The IQ and “bigger them” are both intact.

  4. That’s “bugger”- not bigger. Tired of Auto Spell Check shirt.

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