Some things in life, we get to choose.
In college, we select our friends, our romantic interests and even our professors. But some people we do not choose — they are chosen for us.
They did not come in a catalog. I didn't order them at the counter, or pick them up at the front desk. We weren't introduced, or in the same circle of friends. Nobody sent them to the front door, or stuffed them in the mailbox. And in the early years of my life, I desperately didn't want them.
These things are my brothers. One older, one younger, and me – right smack in the middle.
I can distinctly remember my deepest childhood wish to have a sister. She and I could play with dolls (not trucks) and with dollhouses (not pirate ships). As I got older, this dream began to grow more distant; to exacerbate the issue, my cousins — on both sides of the family — turned out to be all boys. The ratio of boys to girls in my extended family breaks down to a solid 10:1.
To think back on the times when I did everything possible to resist my brothers, I can hardly believe how much has changed in roughly 12 years.
In a 2006 Time Magazine article titled "The New Science of Siblings," writer Jeffrey Kluger investigated the psychology of brothers and sisters. Kluger, who delivered UT's annual Hill Lecture in March, wrote that "our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and cautionary tales."
Only an exquisitely small number of people will ever see you in all your shades of personality and states of being. Siblings are potentially the ones who can see you through almost every phase of life, from age 6 to 60.
Of course, the road to building such deep ties isn't exactly paved with hugs and smiles.
My mom had a very unique way of handling our spats, which regularly occurred. She would listen to our accusations, our infuriated outbursts, and then do something we all hated: she sent all three of us to the laundry room, to sit in the thick of an argument until we had worked out a solution to whatever troubled us.
Until then, we had to stay. I believe these forced reconciliations next to a washer and dryer made an enormous difference in our cohesiveness, and psychologists seem to agree.
As the article confers, "Indeed, siblings who battled a lot as kids may become closer as adults–and more emotionally skilled too, often clearly recalling what their long-ago fights were about and the lessons they took from them."
As I sit in front of some morning ESPN, typing away in my nail polish, some traces of growing up alongside my brothers have emerged.
My older brother has always helped me to challenge myself. I distinctly remember one morning watching a captioned episode of Pokémon with him. An avid fan of the show, I begged my brother to read the words to me; he refused.
I decided to learn how to read shortly after, out of sheer spite.
My younger brother can find me sobbing and still manage to make me smile, despite my best effort to refuse comfort.
They gave me "Saving Private Ryan." I gave them "Miss Congeniality." They gave me basketball in the driveway. I gave them the concept of color-coordination.
Very few people in life will ever get close enough to see straight into your soul. Some, we get to choose. The ones I didn't choose, however, have become the ones that see the most.
Sarah Hagaman is a sophomore in English. She can be reached at email@example.com.