Mirror Mirror

10 October 2018

Tell us about personal, social or family challenges you have faced. How have you dealt with them and how have they shaped your thinking?

What if this college essay was not our first impression? I wouldn’t know what you’d think of me if you saw me on the streets of Manhattan, or Brooklyn, or even Calcutta? But I have a pretty good guess what would be the first thing that comes into you mind if you saw me with my sister: twins. To my family it never occurred to them to find out whether my sister and I were identical or fraternal, they were too busy debating the methods of muzzles or duct-tape to make us stop screaming at each other. Yet this this puzzling enquiry that seems deeper than the quantum physics of the universe seems to follow me, no matter where I go or how old I get: Are you girls twins? My sister. My sarcastic, romantically starved, comic-book loving, Tokyo-dreaming, pain in my gluteus maximus sister is the one person on this Earth who could drive me to the asylum in under six seconds and whom I can’t imagine my life without. She is the voice I count on in the middle of the night, and the sight more familiar than my own shadow. Most people don’t know this. Why should they? I live in New York, a city made of strangers who exit there simply to be know better. First impressions are sometimes the best-selling book you ride with on the subway, or the gorgeous smile that stops someone’s heartbeat. But the detail that has captured other people’s attention for my whole life, was the fact that I had a twin sister. Other people would ask you what your name was. Let me be honest, it hurts. People act like they discovered a rare animal or a parking space in the city, and suddenly I’m not a person who could have a great book or a fabulous smile, I’m part of a set, like identical sweaters. Would you like feeling like a sweater, instead of a person? For years I didn’t know I felt like this. We played into their games, teasing teachers and friends to guess who we are, to know which one was who. And without ever realizing it, the world was divided into an “us” and a “them.” But who’s to blame? Innocent (not so much now) girls born into a world looking like the other, expecting people to always be able to tell us apart. But we never wanted the cliches. Neither of us ever wanted to be the Evil/ Good Twin, the Gemini, the clones, Doppelgangers, or sexual fantasy, which is truly ridiculous on so many levels. We never wanted to be part of this eternal game of compare/ contrast, who’s the smart one? Who’s the pretty one? Who’s nicer? Who’s better? If you ask what’s it being a twin, I’ll ask you what it’s like to breathe? It is my blessing and my curse, and I love it because that’s how I was born. And it had made me work harder than the rest of the world to create my own identity, because I was not born with it. No one is. But there is hope in my beautiful family who has always been able to guess my name right; and in the fact that my sister recently cut her hair, which makes things a lot easier. There are so many things I know and don’t know. I know I was lucky enough to be born with my soul mate, but also have my own heart and mind. I do not know how I will change and allow myself to live in a role that isn’t always defined by my sister. But I do hope that you will read this, and think, and allow myself to find out more about myself at Hunter college.

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