Competition is the wrong word

Was this ‘let’s write a blog post a month as a sister thing’ really my idea? It’s a lot more pressure than I had anticipated. I started this a few weeks ago and I am still writing, on sept. 30th.

I can already predict that on the last day of every month, I will be receiving a ‘not done yet? ha, I win!’ text from my sister.

Which brings us nicely to the keyword for the month of October : Competition.

When I first suggested it, I thought I would have so much soooo much to write. After all, isn’t competition part of the natural dynamics between siblings, especially siblings of the same sex, and especially with only a couple of years apart? Isn’t that what defined us growing up together, especially since we literally did everything together, up till college? Surely, this is not just a one-time-subject of conversation!

But then as I decided to start compiling all the times I felt the frustration of lagging behind my perfect sister, or the victorious uplift when I did catch up, I couldn’t. I couldn’t think of a specific competitive situation, good or bad.

That is not to say that they didn’t exist. They probably did. I’m sure competition was a omnipresent feeling in our lives. It probably still is.


Competition is the wrong word.

Up till a certain age, up till middle school, my sister wasn’t competition, she was the model.


In middle school, she wasn’t competition, she was in a whole different world.

In high school, although that was the one time we were in direct competition, in the same class, taking the same tests, she still couldn’t be competition, because we were all we had to each other.

College, and life after that was… a time of finding ourselves, both in our own ways. That was the first time we were truly allowed to be our independent self, not the Lim sisters.

So no, I don’t remember wanting to beat her, surpass her.

What I do remember is that initial feeling of envy before happiness, whenever something good happened to her. And on some rough times, I remember the guilt of realizing the envy could turn into bitterness, because things always seemed so easy for her.

But what I mostly remember is that fear when I felt we couldn’t compete anymore.

Not because one was better than the other, but because we were drawing different paths in our lives.

I’m sure that period was a rough patch in my sister’s life and I can’t presume I suffered as much as she did. However, her initial decision to maybe stay in Korea, and find a job there made me sadder than any other real event in my adult life. Not by any means, because it wasn’t the right decision on its own right. Not because I thought that staying in Korea was disappointing or anything; but because I thought I would never get to share what I am going through with her. Because this -grad school, life in the States – just wasn’t as meaningful if it were to be my experience, not ours.

Because I didn’t need a spectator, no matter how supportive, but a protagonist in my journey.

Because I guess, at the end, this sibling dynamics, this ‘competitive presence’  is a big part of who  I am.

I have never felt great envy or jealousy towards anyone in particular. In fact, I have never understood petty jealousy for people’s success. Because I know there is always someone better than me, and that’s just ok. Deal with it.

And although self-confidence has always been an issue in some aspects of my life, I can truly stand confidently when I need to, because I know that if I get my shit together, I can be as good as, if not better than, that person. And that’s good too.

At the end of the day, real, healthy competition only exists between two true companions. I’m glad we are just that. companions. And I’m glad we get to be that, yet again, in this city.


And for what it’s worth, if we were to compete in a world stage, I would, a hundred times over, choose to be known as  Seulgie’s sister, rather than have my sister known as Gaeul’s sister.

So here’s to many more ‘competitive’ blog posts, career decisions and personal victories. 374197_10152788667855332_891481114_n

ps: ha, you did not think this would be a sweet sentimental post, did you? well, that’s what happens when you only write past 9 pm…


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