The Art of Sibling Rivalry

My younger brother and I were born two years and seven months apart. That is a weird gap — it isn’t short enough for us to be best friends and it isn’t long enough for us to be “strangers.” Growing up, it seemed like we’d certainly head down similar paths. School was always first, followed closely by music. Of course we diverged slightly when I was interested in acting — he wouldn’t be caught dead on a stage in a (gasp) costume! But in general, we had similar life goals.

I went to Temple University (as I’m sure you’ve heard me proudly proclaim several times). My brother followed me to Temple during my senior year. He joined a fraternity — at my request — and started to make friends. All seemed dandy.

However, going into his junior year, I noticed that him and I weren’t as similar as I had thought. My senior year, I had taken 18 credits both semesters, had two internships and worked four part-time jobs. He was content taking 12 credits, playing guitar and occasionally hitting the library to chill with his bros. It became clear that school was no longer his forte and his heart wasn’t in it.

He approached me one day and dropped a bomb — “Cris, I’m going to join the Army.” Umm — excuse me? He spent the last three years in college and was now ready to throw it away? But as he and I argued our points, he started to convince me — why continue with something that he wasn’t passionate about? I helped him tell our parents and had him meet with my friend who is a recruiter.

The point of this post was to remind myself that you must ALWAYS follow your heart. You cannot excel at something for which you have no passion. Never thought he’d teach me anything (no offense, Tim) but he did without realizing it.


Addendum to My Prior Post

I would first like to say that, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to be great at an art or profession without years of training; this is what makes someone a natural talent. Professional actors without training are usually strikingly believable and an overall better performer; the same is true for some professions (with the exception of surgeons and the like, because that would just be undoubtedly frightening to have an operation performed by an untrained hand. But I digress).

I have gotten some feedback that confuses and astounds me. Readers are concerned that I have doubted the exigence of my diploma. It is not that I regret becoming a legitimate job seeker with a bachelors degree, but I am baffled by the fact that one needs a diploma to even be considered for a position. I find it astonishing that my  international experience, my eye for design, my ability to communicate with and speak in front of large groups of people would all be for nothing had I not gotten a degree. My natural talent would be lost and I would be working at a burger joint (presenting customers with the BEST level of service they had ever seen).

I can see both sides to the argument, though.

It is our culture to believe one needs a diploma to become successful. However, to the people who stand behind this belief, I ask this: What about the entrepreneurs who pushed us into a new century of technological advances like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? Why can’t I be the next Coco Chanel or Simon Cowell?

That is what I mean when I say that a college degree is unnecessary. If you are brilliant enough, determined enough…nothing will stop you. You have to be fearless, see debt and march right into it (I’ve already met this step of the process) and believe in yourself when no one else does. And to be honest, I believe I am on my way.

I am sorry to those who have been programmed to believe that “nothing is impossible” is a lie. Critics of my drive and dream are my biggest fans, and I’ve had these “fans” throughout my entire life. Thank you for pushing me to go above and beyond what I think is possible.

“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity - not a threat”