Anybody who is an older sister or brother can relate to how Xandria felt when Sean came into the family portrait after seven years of glorious “me, me, me!” debauchery on her part; the feeling of being robbed of your parents’ attention and affection, when a younger imp comes along.
The media personality turned motivational speaker and happiness coach at 30 Days to be Happy Always recalls being the only one among her friends who watched plenty of Barney and Power Rangers when she was already well into high school, only because that was her little brother’s choice of TV programs growing up. She remembers the times when she would scream at Sean to get out of her room, particularly during a sleepover with friends when he was caught sneaking into the room to steal sweets.
“I had gotten so used to having my parents’ undivided attention for seven years that I didn’t really understand why I had to give way to the younger brother,” Xandria explains. “In retrospect, if I were more emotionally mature back then, I would have treated him a lot nicer, I think.”
For Sean, however, how Xandria used to exert seniority over him when they were younger did not bother him at all: “All the while, I had assumed that it was the norm for the younger brother to do as instructed by the older sibling. Never once had I thought you were bullying me.”
You could say that Sean’s compliant nature stems from his empathetic, logical, calm and giving nature, humanitarian trades that both the siblings agree were inherited from their mother.
“With a personality like mine, people are sometimes taken aback or offended with the things I say or the way I behave. It’s something that I’m more aware of as I get older: what we mean to express does not always come off as intended,” Xandria says about her extroverted personality, which the public has come to recognise over the years.
“My brother, on the other hand, is the kind of person who thinks before he speaks, and I don’t think he’s someone you can ever get into an argument with. Logic and calmness comes naturally to him, whereas for me, I have to make an effort.”
That being said, the Ooi siblings also attribute their rather pacifist approach to the values they share and believe in, despite their different personalities.
“Both of us believe in non-violence, and that getting angry doesn’t solve anything,” Xandria explains. “Often in life, people are prone to getting riled up. We believe that whatever other people may have done to you, if you keep holding a grudge, you will only get more upset. We value the act of letting go, and we practise it regularly in our daily lives.”
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These days, one may find the Ooi siblings hanging out at the Asian fusion and crepes café in Section 17, Strangers at 47, where Sean is the co-owner alongside partner Lim Sing Yi. The duo has expanded the café to include next door, Friends at 45, and recently acquired the neighbouring shoplot on the other side as a communal event space.
Xandria would often set up her workspace there, as she has found an intangible comfort many would find in the presence of closed family members: “It’s the comfort of having and being around each other, even though we don’t necessarily have to be hanging out and doing the same thing, per se.”
“Not to mention, the food that he keeps sending out from the kitchen to my table!” The elder sibling adds with a hearty laugh.
“Growing up, there weren’t any competition or rivalry between us, mainly because our parents never gave us that kind of pressure,” Sean says. “Back then, we were more detached from each other, but nowadays, we have definitely grown much closer.”
“That’s when the deeper conversations started to come in more often,” Xandria chimes in. “Even though I’ve been the one doing most of the talking, since he doesn’t talk much!”
Photography by Kimmun / Hopscotch Studio
Videography by Andrew Loh
Art Direction by Joyce Lim
Makeup by Joey Yap, Wanning and Rachel Wong
Hair by Derren Fong / Shawn Cutler