Big Brother, Little Sister

by Marisha

I have written here about the ignorance and racism I’ve encountered, but when I look back at my 24 years of life as an adopted Korean-American, I cannot help but feel I have been given the best life possible. From my upbringing, I have learned to recognize and value that I am unique. I was blessed to find a passion for performing, have a healthy and able family, and continue to learn valuable lessons from the two smartest people I know — my parents. I never wanted to be ordinary. I still don’t — even on the days I think that, as a performer, being a 5’8 blonde girl with fake boobs would make my life easier. I’m proud that my brother and I share the same desire to be original and to be leaders.

I remember looking up to my brother before high school for these traits. Everyone seemed to love him. He was an example of that overused saying, “guys want to be him, and girls want to be with him.” He was a good athlete, super smart, and had so much charm—the “it” factor, which leads to social and personal success. Marc was the funniest boy at school. Frankly, he seemed amazing to me. And he was my brother.

“C’mon. Don’t be scared.”

We went to a private K-8 school, where all the students knew one other. In kindergarten and first grade, I tagged after Marc and his best friend, and Marc let me. He treated me like a friend, not just a little (annoying) sister. When Marc was in 8th grade, he was voted student council president. When I entered 8th grade, I wanted to follow him into that role—and I did.

Upon entering high school, I felt overwhelmed. It was my first public school experience, and I was the newbie. I’d heard stories and seen movies about the stereotyping and cliques in high school: popular kids, jocks, art kids, stoners, etc. What you should be and what you shouldn’t be. What was cool and what wasn’t. Forcing myself into a mold like that didn’t agree with me. I thought, “Why should I confine myself to one aspect of life and only one type of friends? Why can’t I just be a social butterfly and be friends with everyone?”

That was my brother. Social Butterfly. He was a senior when I started freshman year, and people treated him as if he was a celebrity. He had friends from every “group” and dramatically increased the energy wherever he walked. I remember all my nerves went away when I got the title of “Marc’s little sister.” Silly, right?! But, I loved every second of it because I was accepted and people wanted to know who I was. From then on, it opened a door which has led me to the mind-set I have now.

I’m not writing this post because I loved being in my brother’s shadow or relished being handed “acceptance.” But being Marc’s little sister gave me motivation and confidence to embrace that I was different, learn from my brother’s confidence and charm, and find my own. I could walk in a room and be proud to be known as “Marisha Castle.”

I feel that my unique upbringing as an adoptee in a transracial family gave me the tools and understanding to be that social butterfly and be friends with people from all walks of life without judgment. The kids didn’t care that I was Asian, or adopted. They didn’t assume I should excel at math or science. They treated my brother and me as if there were no mirrors. High school was a special experience for which I am grateful. I am also grateful to my brother for paving the “Castle” way.

Not all adoptees are going to have an experience as I did, but for me, adoption has been a rewarding experience. I wouldn’t trade my life for anything. Adoptees are a minority in this world, and we bring a different outlook to society. We add color and dimension to the culture. WE ARE ORIGINAL.

Here we are today

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