• Grace Piera

The Hermit Crab

Kat gives us a personal story about her sister's impact on her, and how a red hermit crab has symbolic value in her life.


This one stood out. It was the only one crawling around the cage. It distinctly different than the others because it was bigger and brighter with its neon red sparkly shell. This was the hermit crab my sister chose. I picked a far different crab. My small crab had a soft pastel yellow shell and was almost unnoticeably tucked in a corner of the hermit crab display. The same species but entirely different. Later we walked down the boardwalk, mini cages in one hand and Ensure Plus nutrition shakes in the other.

However, after we drove home from the beach and went to bed we awoke and discovered the bright red crab was nowhere in sight. The crab had escaped! There was no longer a screw attaching the door to the cage, leaving a gaping hole more than big enough for a crab to escape.

The rogue, red crab was unique, different than any other hermit crab. I admired it because of its energetic nature and refusal to be subject to the confinement of a cage, just as my sister never let her illness dim her spirits. Even eating mashed, hospital turkey on Thanksgiving did not sadden her, proven by her smiles and laughter as she licked the sugar off of the pink Peep marshmallow that came in a little cup next to her meal.

Later that day, I released my little timid crab hoping that it would be free like my sister's crab. The red crab’s amazing behavior had caused me to push the yellow crab into the world instead of being trapped in a little container; just like the red crab's inspiring nature, Christina, my sister, caused me to change from being shy and timid into someone independent and unafraid of life.

That joy and appreciation for life are what makes my sister the standout girl in a crowd just like the red hermit crab, because she does not let anything dim her bright personality even though she experiences something that would usually trap someone in a cage, tampering their brightness.


She has taught me that there is no point in hiding from the world and to take advantage of my health. I used to be shy and scared of seeming strange or failure but my priorities shifted when I realized that there is no point of holding back and confining yourself out of fear.

If I went back to that pet store, I do not think that I would identify with the small, timid crab anymore, but rather a neon, lively crab. Christina has taught me that there is no point in hiding from the world because the most vibrant people embrace every little thing that life gives them. I now meaningfully affect my community by consistently finding little ways to bring happiness to others or support them in times of need. I started our Varsity Chem (Advanced Chemistry) group chat as a place for my classmates to problem solve. Quick to respond when a peer posts a question, I also check in frequently with an encouraging word or pun to lift everyone’s spirits.


My sister often needs help in math. I gladly tutor her for hours, reviewing every practice problem available, while also trying to create fun ways to remember concepts. When she is at her wit’s end, I grin and chant, “Don’t be such a negative parabola! Turn that frown upside down!”


During last year’s grueling midterm exams, I strategically placed four-leaf clovers around the classrooms, hoping to offer luck and ease the stress of those who would find them.


Thank you to my sister (and the bright, red hermit crab) for showing me what life is really about.