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One of the Same
When I was in the seventh grade, the majority of my friends were teachers. I enjoyed conversing with adults because - being the egotistical, snobby little eleven-year-old I was - I believed only mature individuals could stand to hold an intelligent conversation with me. I wouldn’t subject myself to the stupidity of my inadequate peers. They were below me.
This, of course, led to my social demise and personal stigma. But I was young, and smart enough to realize all the nonsense would end soon. Maybe not the next day, or the next week, or the next month. Give it a couple years, I thought. A couple years and then some, and I would be accepted.
The teachers and I sustained happy relationships throughout seventh grade. All the while - as my social ability with the older generations prospered - my twin sister seemed to face much success with our peers. She had this personality of brutal honesty that somehow made her even more likable. Maybe because people realized she wouldn’t gloss over the gritty, hard-to-the-bone stuff of life. She would tell it how it was, no matter what the emotional cost.
But she was so like me - there was no denying that. We still viewed ourselves above the rest. She was just able to connect with the lesser ones because she sympathized with their incapabilities.
We were close, of course, my twin sister and I. But where she triumphed with social ability, I utterly failed. Not that I cared. I knew it would all straighten out in the future. Soon.
Seventh grade passed quickly, like all grade levels do in hindsight. On the last day of school, all the seventh grade teachers gathered together in the library for a makeshift “Awards Ceremony” that was intended to mimic the eighth grade “Graduation Ceremony”. Stupid, I know, but as a young individual aspiring to be better than all my lesser peers, I was ecstatic. Finally, I would be able to portray my obvious success my fellow classmates couldn’t seem to grasp.
Silly awards passed first. They, of course, went to kids who possessed that crazy social ability I couldn’t seem to find in myself. Class clown, most friendly - all that jazz. My sister and I awaited eagerly for the chance to hear our names permeate the air. We knew we would each earn awards; the teachers loved us. We were stars in their classes. We’d never pulled anything less than a high A.
“Now, for the final awards. Top Male and Top Female.” I remember the teacher who said those words. He had a head that gleamed like a beacon, it was so bald. And he was clearly concerned with his fitness; bulging muscles and an intimidating demeanor. But he, like all the others, loved my sister and I. We were the obvious favorites.
I remember my sister and I sharing a questioning glance. We knew one of us would earn the award; it was obvious. Nobody else in our group of seventh graders stood a chance.
The Top Male Award went to our best friend, ironically enough. He earned it. Brightest in the class, kind, and hard-working. We clapped vigorously as he shyly accepted his award and sat back down, head hanging down so his hair curtained his face from the rest of our classmates. He, like us, was subjected to the ignorance of our peers at times. Bullying is never a fun thing to witness, much less be the victim of. But seventh grade was over, and I knew he’d be okay. Soon.
I was practically trembling with anticipation as Baldy prepared to read the name of receiver for Top Female. There’s always that awkward feeling when you’re a twin, that feeling between extreme greed for success over your twin and extreme guilt that such thoughts can exist. The goal of my life thus far has been to discover a balance, where I can feel positively competitive with my sister while possessing some insight to her success if she triumphs over me. But as a seventh grader, that emotional capacity hadn’t exactly been perfected.
Baldy cleared his throat. “Before we announce the name, we decided that we just couldn’t pick between two girls here. It was just too tough of a choice. So, for the first time in years, we have two top females!”
I remember that feeling at that particular moment. My heart lifting and stomach dropping somehow simultaneously. I remember my sister and I staring at each other, superficial smiles plastered on our faces as they called our names, friends cheering mostly for my sister and only politely for me.
It was that moment I knew we would not be separated. Despite our obvious social differences -(me, with the teachers, and her, with our peers), nothing would change. In other words, politics would make no difference here, usually the strongest differentiator. If politics couldn’t, nothing would.
We haven’t stopped talking of that moment since. Of feeling grateful for being recognized, yet angry for being swept together as a package once again. Mostly, we were confused. Why did everyone treat us as the same person? Why couldn’t they choose between us? We had different enough personalities that we refused to believe they couldn’t choose between the two of us. Yet, perhaps that’s exactly why they did so. My sister and I may have stellar opposite characteristics, but that’s what makes us so complimentary to each other. We are so different that we fit together perfectly. The definition of twins, I guess.
But the feeling I felt the most was betrayal. My teachers, the only friends I really had, couldn’t even choose me. They didn’t see me as me. They saw me as a twin, one of two incredible people. Yes, I was grateful in their guidance. Yes, I appreciated their kind words and faith in my abilities. Yes, I was proud to be Top Female. But they had abandoned me in the finest hour. They had fallen to the level of my insufficient peers, those who shoved my sister and I together like a sandwich and preferred to view us as a whole. They had failed me, and there was nothing I could do about it.
They faded away from my memory after that, as I’m sure I faded from theirs. Loneliness plagued me the rest of middle school, but I soon realized my peers were far more intelligent and beautiful beings than I gave them credit for. The abandonment of my apparently “older and wiser” friends somehow became a humble experience for me. I depended solely on myself and, gradually, friends who were the same age as me.
As my social ability finally improved, I knew that one day, my sister and I wouldn’t be viewed together. We might finally stand a chance at being seen as separated individuals. If my peers could begin to see the differences between us, who was to say teachers couldn’t? Or workmates? Or my boss?
The moment wouldn’t happen tomorrow, or next week, or next month. I’ll give it a few years. But I know it will arrive. Soon.