I am the older of 2 children. My Mom had her first heart attack a year after my sister was born, so my parents decided not to have any more children. They were married nearly 6 years before I came into the world. They didn’t care if I was a boy or girl. They just wanted a healthy baby and I was healthy for the first twenty some years of my life.
Of course the first child gets all of the attention and when the second one comes along, all the attention has to be divided in two. My sister has never let me forget that.
Being an older child comes with adventure, mistakes, a lot of guessing and then the satisfaction that I did it first. I had to set the example for my sister by being a good girl at all times. I had to go to school first, which was very scary for me. I never went to kindergarten. Mom was a stay-at-home Mom, so I was hardly ever separated from her.
I had to do homework, while my sister just sat there and played with her toys. I had to face report cards first and deal with any comments my parents made. I also had to face all the homework with no older brother or sister to help me. My cousins were much older than I and they didn’t live near me, so I had to struggle alone.
I was the first to get medical injections in the doctor’s office. My parents told me, “just don’t cry or your sister will see you cry and then she will cry.” Not much consolation there. Even if I didn’t cry, she always did. I would think to myself, what a wimp.
I got the new clothes first and she had my hand-me-downs. I went to day camp first and 2 years later, she followed. I had to sleep in the bed near the window, because she was afraid, when the window rattled. She thought something was trying to get in.
I got to ride on the “big kid” rides at the amusement park before she did, but then I had to ride the “kiddie” rides with her.
I learned to drive before she did and do so many things for the first time. Many of the things I did were new to my parents, so I really had to go into things with an open mind and a willingness to figure out what I was supposed to do and then do it successfully. If I did not do well, my parents would scrutinize what I did and explain it to me, so I would never make that same mistake again. They meant well.
My sister is the complete opposite of me. She always was. If I zigged, she zagged. My parents would often scratch their heads in amazement that they had 2 daughters about 20 months apart and we were a different as night and day.
Everyone is unique and beats to a different drum. My parents would often rant and rave at my sister, but only give me certain look and I knew what they meant and what I had to do.
From time to time, I got tired of being first for everything. I didn’t always feel like having an adventure, whether it was going to a new day camp, starting school with a new teacher or tackling a new subject in school.
By the time I was a teenager, I was very, very shy and almost afraid of my own shadow. My sister, on the other hand, was always ready to try something new. I envied her, because she never worried about anything. She took everything in stride and if it didn’t come out well, she just shrugged her shoulders and didn’t care. She endured the wrath of my parents many times, but it never changed her.
After college, I just wanted a job, where I could sit in my cube all day and work by myself. That never happened. Everywhere I worked, I sat in huge rooms, full of people and had to interact with all of them. This was not always easy.
Most people seemed to like me, so I had no problem at work, except for one thing. I was trained, by my parents, to be a take-charge person and set an example and that wasn’t happening in my working life. I needed to satisfy this craving; this need to be supportive and forward-thinking at the same time. This was a real challenge for me.
Finally, after losing a job, working as a temporary employee and several months of unemployment, I realized that I could be my own boss and run a small company. I didn’t want to model myself after some of my past bosses, so I took a long, hard look at myself.
I listed all the good and bad traits I have. I listed all of my skills and areas that needed improvement, but something was missing from all this.
It was the ME factor. It suddenly dawned on me that in my formative years, my parents were setting me up to be my own boss. I could organize, manage and set the example for those around me. They made me take the plunge time after time, doing things that made me uncomfortable, because they knew that life is a series of ups and downs, like riding a rollercoaster. They wanted me to be ready to take on any problem or issue.
By going first, I had to carve out my own path and not be a follower. I had to learn to look out for myself, but at the same time, be there for others. I learned to take defeat well and to celebrate success with others and not just promote myself.
I am a virtual assistant and I am comfortable with who I am and what I have to offer. I learned to suck it up and get the job done and then pat myself on the back for a job well-done.
AS a virtual assistant, I use all of the “childhood” skills I learned. I am always ready for a new challenge with my clients, but I am mindful of what success means to them. Sometimes it’s more customers, sometimes it’s more Facebook likes, while for others it’s just taking care of the little things, so they can save money to expand their businesses.
I’m not afraid to offer suggestions or try something different to get better results. I am very flexible and can revert to others’ plans and suggestions. If I can deal with my sister, I can deal with almost anyone and I am people-friendly and listen to their suggestions and evaluate their proposals. I’m used to taking the team approach.
I am happy that I had the parents I had, because they prepared me not only for life’s rough spots, but also to be able to start, grow and run a successful virtual assistant business.
Visit my website at www.VirtualColleagueLLC.com for more information about me and about what services I offer to businesses. You can also like me on Facebook: Virtual Colleague, LLC.