"Oh wow, you're a twin! That's so cool!" "I wish I had a twin!" "Do you guys like communicate telepathically?" "Wait but you guys don't even look alike?" Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Let's get one thing straight, OBVIOUSLY we aren't identical. He's a boy! I'm a girl! Yes we have the same tiny mouth but I'm sorry that you can tell the difference between the two of us. And no, we do not communicate telepathically; we barely communicate face to face. We don't wear matching outfits and like the same foods and dislike the same music genres. In fact, we are completely different in just about every single way possible.
In all honesty, I can't say we have ever been best friends. We've had our moments his senior year of high school (I graduated a year early and took the year off to work and take some community college classes), when I'd pick him up from a party and we'd bond over Wendy's fries and our ability to sneak back into the house at ungodly hours of the night without being caught by mom. We'd occasionally get along when we'd crack open a Natty Light while watching Cops together at 1am. But that was really it. I had a rough couple years in high school after our dad passed and my brother knew how to keep his shit together better than I did. We had our own ways of coping, and mine happened to be changing and searching for myself. My grades slipped as I focused more on boys and my looks, while he was traveling abroad on a Semester at Sea, rebuilding schools and learning Seamanship.
I didn't really feel like I was "in his shadow" until high school. Up until that point, I did better in school without having to study, I was faster in the pool (swimming is huge in our family), and it felt more as if we were equals than anyone in anyone's shadow. We had the same friends in middle school, but his friends were off limits to date for me just as mine were for him. Like I said, once we got to high school my grades started to sink while he hit the ground running... literally running for class president. He got in with a good group of friends and enjoyed high school, while I spent most of my time with some guy or two that didn't care about me. When it came time to apply for college, I applied to a few local (but great) city schools, and West Virginia University. He on the other hand was applying to all Ivy League, with the exception of Syracuse, Boston College, Tufts, and UVM, which are all still amazing schools. Don't get me wrong, I ended up at West Virginia and it was the best decision I ever made. But while I found myself drinking my weight in Natty Light at frat houses, he was traveling all over Europe.
Now, I want you to disregard the title of this article because honestly, its not true. While though some days it feels like I am living in the shadow of one of the greatest people I've gotten to grow up with, I am not. We are different people, who happened to chose different paths. And there is nothing wrong with that. So whether you're the younger or older sibling, or whatever the case may be, don't think of yourself as ever being in a shadow. Everyone is different and it's okay if your path is different. I love my brother to death, and I would regardless of whether he went to an Ivy League or community college; If he went to art school or dropped out, I wouldn't look at him any differently than I do now. And I would hope its the same for him looking at me.