Ever since I was young, I have been graced with the presence of a wonderful best friend to grow up alongside—my identical twin sister. Growing up with someone who looks exactly like me has its struggles though. We both stead a head taller than everyone, making us easier to compare. I can see why my classmates labeled us as “basically the same person.”
Until the 2nd grade, everything that she was invited to, we were invited to, and vice versa. I found such a sense of security knowing that where I fell short socially, she would pick up the slack. That was until I didn’t. One day, I remember coming home confused and upset that she had been invited to a classmate’s birthday party, but I had not been. Simply put, they were her friends, not mine.
When the actual day came, I remember myself moping around the house and crying to my mom. I asked her why she could not just ask the parents of the host to let me tag along. My mom, who I got very annoyed with, kept telling me no and that it was rude to invite me over to someone’s house, but I still didn’t understand. After all, why was it rude to go if my twin sister, who was nearly exactly like me in all respects, was already going—what was one more person? I thought that surely if they liked her they would have to like me. No matter how much thought I put towards it did not change the reality: I was not going to go.
So I didn’t. I stayed home while my twin sister had a fun time at the local pool, where the party was hosted. I used that time to reflect on making my own friends and forming my own identity. Little did I know that it would be a hard journey ahead of me. I realized later in my life that I was actively playing into the idea that my sister and I were the same person by assuming that I was entitled to whatever treatment by other people that she was. I realized I had no concept of self-identity as how I perceived myself always revolved around how others perceived her as well.
That birthday party changed the way that I look at myself forever, and has become a foundational memory in the search for my own identity. Life becomes quite the balancing act when you look exactly like another person who you are also best friends with. As we grew older, I would intentionally dress differently, talk differently, or have different interests than her in order to remove myself from association with her, but all of those things were so superficial. They were changes that people perceived on the outside but did not allow me to develop my own identity internally. Ultimately, my search for my own identity remains something that I, like many people, am continuing to work on. I don’t think it takes being a twin to struggle with issues of identity or self-determination, but I am happy I have experienced events like that birthday party that required me to confront them head-on, and define myself on my own terms.