Winning your first match is exhilarating. Your first kiss makes your head spin. Your first straight A’s makes you feel accomplished. First can be so amazing, but it can also be the worst.  

Being the first to present in class isn’t fun. Neither is your first day in a brand new school or being the first child in your family. And that’s my problem.

I’m the first kid in my family, so I get to experience everything for the first time. What’s worse is that I have to go through it all alone. I didn’t have anyone to tell me what to expect when I went into middle school or high school. I wasn’t told the importance of establishing a relationship with your peers or at least finding that one person at school you can really confide in.

Because I didn’t have that person to guide me, I spent the first part of my high school experience alone. I ate lunch by myself. Any problems I had, I kept to myself because I didn’t feel comfortable bringing them up to my parents. I felt that I was completely isolated from everyone around me and, when you’re suffering from depression, that’s not the best feeling in the world.

It wasn’t just school though, I had my fair share of problems at home too.

Along with being the first kid, I’m also the first one to be blamed for everything that goes wrong. The one who has to be responsible for all the kids in the house. If my siblings don’t do their chores, I’m in trouble. If my brothers make a mess, I’m held accountable. If my sister misbehaves, I’m punished and not allowed to go out.

People often think that being the first child gets you favoritism, or all the new electronics, clothes and shoes, or that you have complete control over your younger siblings. That is not the case for me.

I believe that the first child has more pressure on them than the rest of their siblings. They have to be a role model for the little ones to follow.

I’m constantly told I shouldn’t act out if my siblings mistreat me since I’m “the oldest” or I shouldn’t act a certain way because I’m “the oldest and should act like it.”

I reached a point where I was scared to do anything in my own home because the slightest mistake would get me in trouble.

Maybe that’s the reason I joined so many extracurricular activities – to avoid going home.

In high school, I had Folklorico dance practice three days a week, attended weekly The kNOw Youth Media meetings and was involved in theatre and the girl’s badminton team. And, as a freshman in college now, most of my time is dedicated to my classes, the Korean class-club I take 3 days a week and bible study once a day.

And still I feel like I’m the forgotten child.

It can be as simple as when my family is going to the store and all the kids get chips and they don’t bring me back anything saying “sorry, we forgot.” Or that my brother and sister, who are in elementary and middle school respectively, have cell phones while I only got a working phone last year.

For years, my phone had been my younger sister’s hand-me-downs, ranging from glitchy phones to extremely cracked and disconnected ones.

Times were especially difficult when my parents had to pick me up. Sometimes they might be late or forgot me and then I’d have no idea since I had no way to get a hold of them. If I was lucky, there would be someone approachable who would lend me their phone to call them.

I feel my siblings have lost respect for me. Since I get in trouble for scolding them, they find that it is fine to call me names or mistreat me because they know they will face no consequences.

But being the first child puts me in a unique position.

While I felt anxious, scared and alone growing up since I didn’t really have anyone there for me when I needed it, I am thankful I’m the first because I would never want my younger siblings to feel that way. Now at least I can be there for them as they go through it.

I was there for my sister as she entered her freshman year of high school, for one of my brothers when he started his first year of middle school and for my youngest brother as he was going to fifth grade without any of us attending the same school.

So yes, I’m the first. I’m the first one my sister turns to when she needs boy advice, I’m the first one mom and dad call when they need help with the internet, I’m the first one my brothers go to when they need help beating the next level in Rayman.

So yes, first can be the worst, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sometimes.

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Angel Vargas (she/her/hers)

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