It takes an uncomfortable amount of introspection to admit that I am “the other Sophia.” I’m the one who has to sacrifice my last vowel so that we can be identified separately. I am the one who should give up a letter of her identity. Every time someone shouts our name in a crowd and I crane my neck like Tantalus to his fruit tree, my heart stiffens when I realize they are speaking to you. Whenever they announce an award and speak my three syllables, I hold my breath for the last name. Then I have to hold my tongue while you bow so low your medals scrape the floor.
The stab of “almost” and “so close” is always the slightest bit sharper when I lose to myself. Gold medals shine brighter next to silver when they are engraved with the same string of letters. It’s not your fault, of course. The only first place we’ll ever share is Most Common Name in the United States for Four Years in a Row. There are more than 50,000 of us in our country alone. But you probably already knew that.
Every morning I watch you disappear with friends and I think, You know exactly where you belong. Every question I answer incorrectly is a reminder that I am the other Sophia. Every stolen glance at you is a bitter wish to be as good as – no, superior to – you. I don’t know if you catch me jabbing you with covetous glares, but even if you did, you would graciously forgive me, like the saint I’ll never be.
I’ve always seen you as competition. You were the Sophia I wished I was. You were always one inch taller, one friend more likable, and one grade point smarter. I was Ron Weasley to your Harry Potter. I turned you into an ideal that I aspired to and impersonated.
You aren’t the only Sophia I’d rather be. There is the one in math class who finishes her tests before I can scrawl out our name. There is a clone in dance who can fouetté while I wobble in a passé. There is the one laughing with her friends while I watch, only pretending to read. There are far too many people who give me unattainable standards. While other girls wish they were Jennifer Lawrence, I still can’t get over those god-damned Sophias.
“Sophie,” I shout at myself, “would you please clean your dorky glasses and look at things objectively? You need to get over yourself. Do you really think no one understands how you feel? You have become a cliché of a teenager. Maybe I should get you a 1D album and a Twilight book. We can meet up at the Starbucks.” I cannot succumb to the stereotypes of a generation. I must stop lathering myself in self-pity and clean my glasses every once in a while.
It’s amazing what clear vision can do for a person. Suddenly I see the pimples hiding in the forest of your hairline. I see the crescents of stress and sleep deprivation beneath your eyes. I see the tears and the strength and all the bullet holes from everyone else who put a target on your back. I see a girl who wishes her name wasn’t so freaking common and that she could hide from all the pressure. I blink, to make sure I wasn’t imagining some wraith in this goddess’s place, and I see a girl just like me.
Sophia, you are gifted and virtuous and the reincarnation of Galatea, but you are not the goddess I made you out to be. I turned you into an idol and a martyr and a model in a magazine, but you are as human as I am. For every insecurity I flicked onto you, I hope they didn’t stick.
I am not the other Sophia. I am no one’s lesser version.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.
This piece won the May 2015 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.