CAUGHT IN THE MIDDLE
By Bethany Ocansey with an Excerpt from The Huffington Post Blog
I wrote my blog for you today while drawing a parallel on what was said in the excerpt below. What do other middle children think? How accurate was it? I think they hit the nail on the head with me. And, of course, there’s a lot more that can be said! What about you? I hope I can talk to other middle kids about their experience.
If you are a middle child, you are probably understanding, cooperative and flexible, yet competitive. You are concerned with fairness. In fact, as a middle child, you are likely to pick an intimate circle of friends to represent your extended family. It is here that you will find the attention likely lacking in your family of origin. As a middle child, you receive the least amount of attention from family and as a result, this family of your choice is your compensation. As a middle child, you’re in very good company with notable U.S. Presidents and celebrities such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Bill Gates, Donald Trump and Steve Forbes. Though often a late bloomer, you find yourself in power careers that allows you to use your negotiating skills… and get that all too-needed attention.
You and your older sibling will never excel at the same thing. The personality trait that defines you as a middle child will be opposite of that of your eldest and youngest sibling. But those wonderful social skills that you have learned as the middle child — negotiating and navigating within your family structure — can prepare you for an entrepreneurial role on a large scene.
I was a sneaky one with my wondering gaze, people-watching, and listening to others with intrigue, trying to comprehend the world around me in a way I could digest. I don’t know how great my detective skills were, but I was left alone to go about my business, constantly analyzing. My understanding of the world and other people came from asking a lot of questions, mainly out of nosiness and a weird need to be shocked and surprised. I liked that feeling and the sense of gaining knowledge, it always put a smile on my face. I am passionate and will fight for understanding, it’s so precious.
There were moments where I joined in with the world. When I wanted to be a part of something specific, I was always happy to cooperate. Yes, I do things sometimes with my eyes rolling, but doing what I enjoy with the people I enjoy it with is fulfilling. Actually, for a very long span of time, they weren’t even people at all. But horses. I was considerably cooperative with them!
My flexibility was questionable. When I stuck to something it’s because I believed in it whole heartedly, there was nothing anyone could do to change my mind, there was no bending, or turning. There were moments I remember where I still feel awful, like when I was so anti-weed smoking as a little girl I didn’t let one of the kids in my neighborhood step foot near my house, it was so mean. He turned out to be one of my closest friends later. It’s funny how we remember things like that. If only we had hindsight to know how hypocritical we could be. Being a middle child of course makes us rebellious, but it was a little later for me. The older I got I felt that with others I became a flexible pushover, with my time and energy, I think this was a win/lose in life.
Maybe this was a glimpse into how my competitive nature was developing. I will want to win an argument even if you tell me the sky is blue, and I won’t budge, even when there is something in me telling me I should. I was a tough tomboy, running track, and competing in field athletic events, not to mention horse-riding, and I always wanted to win. I was pissed when I didn’t. I was popular at the top, albeit for a brief moment. But that competitiveness lead to stubbornness, a trait that I will always admire for parts of my life and abhor for others.
While being competitive, fairness was paramount. I wouldn’t cheat on my school tests (apart from one time I glanced a look at my neighbor’s paper in a chemistry test and couldn’t resist.) I felt terrible, I can’t have my victory lap without playing fair. Even with fun stuff like board games, or bowling and cards. I’m not going to play if I have to cheat. The making of a bad loser was in the works here.
And then there is my circle. My friends are my family, and to have that is one of the most precious things in the world to me, because my blood family live across an ocean, so far away. We are close in heart, but I am happy to have two families, and the bond I have created with those friends is unbreakable. It takes more courage, more work and more forgiveness because it is not a given. That, I value. At any time, they could have walked away, and I could have given up.
At least I didn’t have them around me as annoying children though. Man, I remember my brother and sister ganging up on me all the time. Making fun of my dance moves and how I was so obsessed with horses. My clothes never looked as good as theirs, and I seemed to always be left out of things. I didn’t relate to either of them. My sister was beautiful and popular, while my brother was hanging with the cool group, doing who knows what. I was a loner. I always say I blossomed with age, a saying my friend said to my face. It was true, but it took a long while for this flower to blossom. And lord knows I was weeds, leaves and shrubs before that. Awkward glasses, silly hair, blotchy cheeks and horrible metal braces. I had no idea about make-up or clothes until my late twenties. I am not exaggerating. It was a mess.
Regardless of looks, I could still negotiate the shit out of anyone, I am half-African, after all. But I could never be in sales, because I cannot kiss people’s ass. Having the power of confidence and the gift of the gab has made my life electrifying and interesting, to say the least. I love people, I love being gregarious and meeting new faces. Attention is a beautiful thing. As long as people don’t stare. I have a thing with staring.
I always tell people that my sister is the sweet version of me. She’s incredibly kind and caring and wouldn’t hurt a fly. Although we have similar tastes now our life paths will take different turns for sure. My brother is not even on my planet, randomly defending why cats are on this earth (I didn’t have anything against cats, I just think apart from chasing mice they are just cute and useless.) And he does things I may never understand, opposites indeed.
So middle children! Let’s take over the world! The sassy beings we are should never go unheard!
‘The Middle’ by Zedd, Maren Morris & Grey
I often found I was misunderstood, even now. I wanted to just say to people, ‘hey come and meet me in the middle!’ Whether that meant meeting half way, so we got to an understanding or feeling of what it was like to be that person in the middle. Being a middle, older, or younger sibling is just a part of who we are. And the beauty of being different. You can scream, shout and lose your mind, but you will always be you and discover people that compliment who you are.