Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Hebron High School News Online

The Hawk Eye

Opinion: “Apa”

Being the eldest daughter has shaped the way I live my life
Shiren Noorani
I may only have one biological sister, but I have multiple siblings who are a huge part of my life. Being the eldest daughter isn’t just related to being an older sister, it affects my relationship with my entire family.


Three letters — two syllables. 

The word that describes me in a way my own name can’t.

My family is from Pakistan and speaks Urdu, so “apa” is what we call an older sister. In my case, it was never my little sister who used the phrase, it was always my grandpa. That may seem ironic considering he was the oldest person in my family and the word “apa” comes with an underlying respect and responsibility, but that is what I love about it — the word shaping the person I have become.

Growing up, I was surrounded by people older than me. All of my cousins — who are like siblings to me — were older than me. 

For the first five years of my life, my cousins and I were a group of nine and I was an only child. But at 5 years old, my life flipped. I went from being the youngest of nine to the oldest of two — me and my little sister. Being an older sister is the reason I live my life the way I do. 

Being the eldest daughter comes with hidden responsibilities that many don’t recognize — some being as little as driving your sibling around or helping them with their homework. However, it isn’t always that easy. Sometimes it consists of putting myself aside and being there for my entire family when grieving. I have always lived with a mindset of putting others before myself and I would never change it — it’s one of the biggest factors about being the eldest daughter. 

I have loved watching my little sister transform from being the baby whose diapers I used to change to the teenager who won’t stop talking about endless middle school drama. 

Being an eldest daughter comes with a standard that others don’t have to live up to. Many people think of it as a “we have to” type thing, but I like to think of it as an “I get to.” I get to put my family first; I get to be there for the people who raised me and for the people who make my life worth living. Most importantly, I get to watch the people around me grow up and be a part of their story. 

Even though I only have one biological sister, I have many siblings. They may be older, but there are many times where my “eldest daughter” personality comes in handy. I’ve always been the go-to person, whether it be ordering food for my entire family, capturing moments at family occasions or making sure everyone’s doing OK after a rough time. After losing my grandpa, I made it my personal goal to be there for everyone in my family in any way I could. 

Knowing I’ll be the eldest daughter for the rest of my life has made it second nature to me. I’ve built my life on a foundation of loving others and being there for them — it’s how I grew up. It used to be about letting my little sister have the attention of my parents, but now it’s loving people to no end and no limitations, but also loving them more than myself. Some think of this as “unhealthy” or “too much,” but the love and memories that come with each relationship make every moment worth it. 

Being the eldest daughter has taught me to treat others with respect and empathize with others. Over time, I’ve seen the reality behind a “happy” family and how much goes into being one. I’ve gotten used to masking my problems and saying “I’m fine” every time, and because of that, I’ve learned to understand people and be observant because I know how it feels to be overlooked. 

Being there for others gives me a sense of peace within myself. Friends come and go, parents and grandparents leave us too early and significant others come into our lives too late. It’s our siblings who are there for the long run. 

I may have lost the verbal reminder of being called “apa,” but I’ll forever be my little sister and family’s “apa.”

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About the Contributor
Shiren Noorani, Social media manager
Junior Shiren Noorani is the social media manager and this is her second year on staff. In her free time, she loves to travel with her family and play basketball.

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