“Hey Cassie!! It’s so good to hear from you! How are you? How was work? I had fun at summer camp today!” Every time I call home and talk to my younger brother Sebastian, he greets me with this degree of enthusiasm. And while you might think that this is because he’s so happy to be talking to his older sister, he would greet anyone with similar excitement. There’s no doubt about it, Sebastian is a people person. He’s 19 years old, he has Down syndrome, and he’s the most outgoing person I’ve ever known.
A couple of months ago at my college graduation, I was mingling outside with my family and friends. We were all standing in a circle and chatting when I realized that Sebastian wasn’t standing with our group. I started looking for him and found him sitting in the middle of another group of people, leading the conversation.
I went to get him, and he said, “Hey Cassie! Meet my new friends!” This is typical for Sebastian, because he treats anyone he encounters as a potential friend. One of the things I most appreciate and admire about him is that in situations where many of us are shy or socially awkward, he’ll strike up a conversation and make people feel at ease.
No matter where we are, Sebastian is comfortable being himself. He loves singing and dancing, and he will happily demonstrate this anywhere. Whether it’s just listening to music in his room or standing and dancing at a sporting event, Sebastian thrives. If we walk into a room and he sees a microphone, he beelines for it, ready to entertain the crowd with a rendition of his favorite One Direction song.
Even though it may seem like it would be slightly embarrassing having a brother who always wants to be the center of attention, I can honestly say I am so grateful to have Sebastian as my brother.
I have learned so much from him. I have learned that by being friendly to people you meet, even strangers, they will respond with kindness in turn. I have learned that you shouldn’t be afraid to be silly and to act like yourself, because people will come to love and appreciate your quirks.
I have learned how to be accepting of people that you meet. Even though others may seem different from you at first, you are fundamentally similar in many more ways. I know that having Sebastian as my brother has made me a better person, and I’m lucky to have him in my life.