April 1, 2021

STELLA | Thank You For Coming Out of The Womb First

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No one likes to admit when their sibling is right. Whether you’re the youngest, the eldest or somewhere in the middle, there’s nothing more satisfying than one-upping your sibling (if you’re an only child, I hope your family has a dog).

As the youngest of two, my parents drove me to and from high school parties, took my side during  arguments, and filled my flask on Friday nights. I always received previously annotated books, benefitted from teachers who automatically liked me better than my classmates and wore stylish hand-me-downs. But, as much as it may pain us to admit, the best part of being the younger sibling has always been learning from our older brothers and sisters.

To be fair, they love being the oldest. They relish in the fact that we look up to them for advice or guidance, being a role model is more satisfying than a non-proctored prelim. But, in my final months at Cornell, I have to thank my older brother for what he gave me in my time here. It’s nothing tangible like a fake ID or a bed pad (I think Cornell can afford more than a plastic mattress in  on-campus dorms), but rather the intangible. Sincerely, thank you Luke.

I once gave my brother a bloody nose from throwing a grapefruit at his face and convinced my parents he was in the wrong; But now as the wise old man that I am ,which just makes him even older, I have to admit that I wouldn’t be the person that I am without him. My experience at Cornell is just a small example of the help he’s given me throughout the years, whether he knew it or not.

Many Cornellians struggle to find classes that promise to boost their GPA throughout their time here, or finagle friends’ old study guides. Younger siblings are given notes and study guides the day they open their offer letters. I was practically enrolled in Oceanography before I found out that I needed to learn how to swim.

My second night at Cornell, I received a text from a senior who knew my brother,  Luke had just graduated, I watched Biden speak at the ceremony, (Speaking of, Cornell get on it I want someone famous to tell me about the future when I graduate). He invited me to a party. It might sound trivial for the 60% of you that came from New York City and already knew half of campus, but for a freshman that knew no one, that text was my first social interaction in college.

My brother guided me through clubfest (giving your email to too many groups will result in non-stop notifications), our ever-hated DUST report (is that only for Arts & Sciences?), and Greek life rush. He gave me advice without ever trying to sway me to do or join the things he did.

Now, whether our older siblings are writing comedy pilots in Hollywood, moving in with their German girlfriends in Berlin or breeding Boston terriers that come from a line of show dogs, we can’t help but miss them. I probably don’t speak to my brother as much as I should. Cornell keeps us busy, even with online learning, part-time jobs and the desire for social interaction further cluttering our jam packed weekly schedules.

This isn’t the most relatable article I’ve written, but rather than writing an advice column for my younger sibling who is coming to Cornell next year, I chose to write a thank you. My brother is the one who warned me against getting an electric skateboard despite the ease of travel (because come on, you can pump yourself up the hill or walk). He told me about the Zeus iced Chai teas for long study days, recommended the trays from RPCC for slope-sledding days, and prohibited me from eating at Okenshields (I should’ve listened).

So, as not to leave him with too big of an ego (as older siblings tend to have): Mom and dad say I’d look more handsome if we both go bald (Uncle Mike said you looked like an alien child). Luke, I am your brother. If you didn’t catch that reference, you’re proving my point that most of you suck.

AJ Stella is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. Stellin’ It Like It Is runs every other Friday this semester.