How Being Half Made Me Whole
Start writing a post
Community

How Being Half Made Me Whole

Growing up we struggle to figure out who we are. It’s a bit harder when there’s someone out there exactly like you.

12
How Being Half Made Me Whole

"Who's the evil twin?" I stare into the harsh, unfamiliar eyes. They are just a little too close to mine as they peer in, unblinking, to examine my face. A moment later, they dart over to study my twin sister as we sit fearfully upright in our double stroller. The stranger scans us as if we are the subjects of a science experiment.

Several years later, my fifth-grade self swallows the familiar ache in my throat, signaling that I may burst into tears at any moment. I plaster a fake smile across my face to ensure my friend that everything is fine as she informs me that "Mia is the prettier twin."

But it's not.

People have stuck labels to differentiate me from my twin sister, Mia, for as long as I can remember. Strangers stop us in the street to question "Who is smarter?" or "Who is more athletic?" Even family members will point out physical features such as size, shape, and flaws to set us apart from one another without realizing they would never dare to mention if we were not twins. As any twin could tell you, people do not feel the need to obey any social norms when commenting on us. The presence of someone who looks exactly like you invites public scrutiny into private matters. In these moments, I become an object to analyze. I am put in a box, any box, as long as it is not the same as Mia's. In everything I do, I am either the best or the worst - pretty or ugly, smart or stupid, fast or slow; I never get to feel what it is like to be in the middle of the spectrum. While these constant comparisons drive me to be my best, they also allow me to be more compassionate when it comes to those who are not. When Mia and I departed for different colleges last fall, her lack of presence in my life forced me to become independent.

Mia's constant presence in my life has forced me to push myself to perform to the best of my abilities. Despite the obvious shared qualities, Mia and I even participate in the same favorite activities, such as figure skating and track, in which we are made out to be each other's biggest competition. In skating practice, my coach would often compare our abilities, which motivated me to work harder. If Mia's jumps were supposedly higher, I would spend an extra hour that week attempting to surpass her height. Even in team sports like track, we would often be pitted against each other in races, but for a good reason. Unsurprisingly, my times were faster when I was running against Mia. When report cards came out and Mia's grades were slightly better, I forced myself to spend more time focusing on my schoolwork. Most students feel pressure to achieve in school, so we had the added pressure of outdoing each other in grades. The spirit of competition in our relationship has motivated me to consistently put forth my best effort.

While competing in all the same activities pushes me to do my best, it may seem toxic to feel constantly compared. However, my knowledge of this feeling is used in a beneficial way, as it allows me to be more empathetic. The weight of a gold medal on my chest feels uncomfortable when I am aware that Mia, though she may be wearing silver standing next to me, feels as though she just got dead last. While I allow myself to celebrate things like getting first in a race that Mia was also a part of, I still am there to comfort her on the bus ride home. We always seek to be the better, the winner, the "good" twin, but achieving the better status was no better than being found the twin who was wanting. Since the winner is always switching in our relationship, we often found ourselves saying the phrase "next time" to each other. While losing to the other can hurt, there's always the possibility of winning the next. Our society forces people to constantly compare themselves to others; I have learned to not let these comparisons determine my self-worth. If a friend of mine is upset about a lost race or a bad grade, I am able to offer support, or the encouraging "next time" to them. The hardest part about being a twin is the constant comparison, but the best part is that as a comparison implies, there is someone else out there who knows exactly what you are going through.

While Mia's presence in my life impacts me greatly, her lack thereof has affected my independence quite notably. Up until August of last year, Mia and I had not spent more than twenty-four hours apart. Needless to say, the first few weeks of college were very difficult for me. Not only was I not familiar with being apart from her, but I also was not used to doing things by myself. Attending the same school as well as participating in the same activities has prevented me from ever having to enter a new situation alone. I was not used to introducing myself without Mia there. Even doing simple tasks most people are capable of doing on their own, like going to pick up food or checking out at a store felt foreign to me. At first, I felt as though a part of me was missing. I thought the friends I was making did not know the real me because they did not know Mia. When I first met people, I was surprised they were not hesitant to call me by my name, as most people that I recently met could not tell me apart from Mia. Even to our friends at home, we are referred to as the "Riley's", not by our own names. Not having Mia by my side forced me out of my shell to do things independently, but it also allowed me to confront who I am without her. While my peers at home assumed Mia and I were exactly the same and grouped us together, people I've met at college only know me through what I say or do, not through the actions of my sister.

It is impossible to demonstrate who I am without talking about Mia. Rather than trying to figure out my identity as someone other than Mia, I learned that I am who I am in no small part to who she is. How lucky I am to have my greatest adversary also be my biggest supporter, and I hope that she feels the same way. Her presence in my life compels me to strive to be my best, but also has taught me how to be empathetic when I am not. Her lack thereof forces me to be truly independent. Neither of us has to be the good or evil twin, the smart or unsmart twin, the pretty or the ugly twin. We are both capable of being the best or the worst, just like anyone else. Instead, I have a sister, a friend, a competitor who will constantly bring out the best in me.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1307298

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

816763
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

798961
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

516423
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

322406
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

455476

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Swoon

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.

308841

Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

207921
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments