My brother AJ is a year and a half older than me. As we grew up, genetics favored him. He has always been a little taller than me, tougher than me, bigger than me, and better than me at so many things. He was one of the popular kids in the neighborhood and I was his little brother.
We would often play games where we were imaginary characters. Sometimes we were Army Men, sometimes Cops and Robbers, but my favorite was when we played Batman and Robin.
We ran through the neighborhood, fighting crime, beating up the bad guys, only hesitating long enough to replenish our strength with bologna sandwiches and warm lemonade. We swung from imaginary grappling hooks over multitudes of sidewalk squares. And we created hours of adventures saving the world day after day.
Most kids would have wanted to be Batman; the big, bold hero. But I was happy to be Robin, the sassy sidekick. AJ did most of the fighting and I got to fill the fights with witty banter. He was the strong one and I was the sarcastic one. He was fantastic and I was funny. I didn’t live in my brother’s shadow; I was his shadow. I backed him up and helped him be the best he could be. And my brother was as much a cheerleader for me as I was for him.
I have plenty of memories of hearing our mom say, “Take your little brother with you.” But I have no memories of him complaining or saying, "No!" We had an incredibly supporting relationship. Sure, sometimes we fought, but mostly, we complemented and depended on each other. And because of that, we were unbeatable.
Since then, we grew up and found careers and formed families of our own. It is easy for me to look back and see that where I have been most successful in life was when I was part of a supportive team. Sometimes I led, managed, and mentored, and other times I followed. I realized that every member of every team, two or 20, has a significant role in the success of that team. There will always be a star, a champion, a Batman, but they are always reinforced by Robins. We can’t all be in the spotlight. But we need to remember that for every celebrity that you see, there are dozens and dozens of amazing individuals creating the climate for that one person to shine.
Often the Robins don’t get all the recognition and notoriety that they feel that they deserve. But this Robin learned to shine in the shadows. I don’t need to be the center of attention. Instead, I need to do things that make me proud of myself. I find happiness behind the scenes and find joy in helping the many Batmen in my life. Batman is amazing, but so is Robin.
Sometimes we feel that we are less important than those up in front. But my brother taught me that sometimes Batman is nothing without Robin.