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The Sisterly Influence by Lauren Archer and Ria Kalsi

Lauren Archer and Ria Kalsi reflect on the ways in which being sisters might have influenced their friendship, having found 'sisters' in each other. Lauren is the eldest of 3 sisters and Ria is the youngest of 3 sisters.

When I asked Lauren to create something for this editorial, we were both a bit stumped. The role of a big sister or any sibling is a huge subject to try to whittle down. As with many of the other creators for this editorial, Lauren is one of my best friends.

We met on my first day of lectures at uni and as I’ve recounted before on the blog, I walked into my first seminar, extremely nervous, strategically scanning the room for a place to sit. I joke that Lauren was unavoidable because from the moment I walked in, there she was – this gorgeous girl with a beaming smile ear to ear, making confident eye contact with me and saying I could come sit next to her. Unavoidable is the right word, not in a negative way but in the best way. Lauren was so confident and friendly and immediately put me at ease. Who knew that would be the start of one of the most important relationships in my life.

Before meeting Lauren, I had already had so many friends who were elder sisters from school and when I found out that she was yet another, it didn’t surprise me at all. I don’t really know how to describe it but there is a certain energy or vibe. Maybe as the youngest sister it’s something I can pick up on quite easily? I’m not sure but I definitely felt it with Lauren.

When we talked about ideas for a piece, I think we were both interested in how being the oldest and youngest of three sisters might have impacted our friendship so we’ve both answered the same questions and created a comparative piece.

1. Do you think being the eldest sister influences the way you make friends and do you think it effected how we became friends?

Lauren: I’ve never really thought about the way my role as the eldest sister has affected the way I make friends, but I am definitely not shy to initiate a friendship and to start up conversation. I don’t think it did affect the way we became friends. Two nervous freshers looking for friends!!! I think it was a combination between both of our chatty personalities and the uncertainty of the first few weeks of university that brought us so close so quickly!

Ria: I think this is perhaps where we differ. I'm not shy once I'm comfortable... at all, but at first I definitely can be a bit more shy and when making friends, I do tend to pull back a bit depending on how that person makes me feel. Luckily, Lauren made me feel very at ease. Though, as I felt instantly comfortable with Lauren, we both discovered we were as chatty as each other.

2. Does being the eldest sister effect your work ethic?

Lauren: As the eldest I think that my work ethic purely derives from my own desire to be the best version of myself and the strong work ethic that my parents have installed in me. I think if I were a younger sibling I would be more competitive in my work ethic in order to compete with my extremely brainy siblings.

Ria: Naturally I think the obvious answer would be that you do it to set a good example and whilst that it a part of it, it's clear that it is primarily driven, I would say, by wanting to be the best version of yourself. In that way, I think I look up to you because you make your work important for yourself whereas I think mines flipped. My work ethic is driven by making other people proud or proving others wrong but I feel I've learnt from you the importance of also doing it for yourself.

3. Do you feel there is ever a sisterly dynamic between us?

Lauren: I would say in some senses yes. We do not have to spend all of our time together in order to care for one another. Equally we respect each other’s spaces and differences, without it effecting their closeness of our friendship. I feel that I grew up very quickly being away from home from the age of thirteen and therefore had a lot of life experiences that I think allow me to place myself as the elder sister in our friendship dynamic purely out of the fact that I experienced some of the things you have gone through within first and second year a couple of years ago and learnt those things from the older girls in my boarding house. (Still lots to learn!! And many things I learn from you, most of them probably being more educational and informative based)

Ria: Yeah, I think that with siblings, that choice is taken away from you of who it is/how you spend your time together but I think with us it feels sisterly minus any forced feelings so it's sort of the best of both worlds. Completely agree with you in that respect, I feel like I definitely look up to you because a lot of the things that I've recently gone through, you've already done which is massively comforting to me but there isn't a condescension from you in that respect it's a very level playing field, I feel, despite that.

4. What do you think the boundaries are between sister and friend?

Lauren: My experience growing up at boarding school has really shaped my opinion on this question as the boundaries between sister and friend became extremely blurred as I grew up with a group of non-biological sisters for 5 really important years of my life. I would struggle to describe the difference between these friends and siblings as we did everything siblings would (falling out, eating, sleeping,

laughing and crying together to name a few) but the love was always there throughout. The only small difference I could really pin point is the level of protectiveness I feel towards my younger siblings. Yet this feeling of wanting

to protect my closest friends is very much there.

Ria: I agree. Even having not gone to boarding school, going to the same all-girls school my whole life echoed that feeling of 'sisterhood' and I don't really find myself, especially as I've gotten older, appropriating the conversations/interactions I have with my close friends and sisters all that much apart from the natural childlike inclination to run to my sisters when I'm upset because of that maternal influence, similar to your protective instinct.

Lauren Archer

I don't know if I have ever had as much of a natural affinity and chemistry with someone than I have with Lauren. It's nothing in particular but just every part of our friendship and how we understand each other. We talked about it once and a large part of it is the genuine love there that makes listening and engaging with each other a natural pleasure rather than a chore. There is never a feeling of boredom or distance I feel with Lauren and to be able to call her my best friend is an honour.

I'm a big believer in fate and destiny and I truly believe that people come in and out of your life for a reason and I have a funny feeling Lauren won't be going anywhere anytime soon.

Lauren is studying English at the University of Exeter.


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