Do you ever wonder how other people see you?
Maybe being an identical twin has made me more aware of this concept. Growing up with an identical sister always at your side gave me an increased (but maybe false) sense of self awareness: the ability to essentially see “yourself” from the outside, doing things you normally don’t get to see yourself doing. Maybe in this time of youtube and camera phones this has changed, but I think we generally have little idea of how we appear to others as we go about the tasks of our daily lives.
Having my sister to stare at every day growing up provided a fun-house like mirror for most of my childhood experiences. It was hard not to assume that everything I saw in "the mirror” my sister provided was in fact only a warped view of myself. Ironic, since I tried so hard to assert my separate identity but also was perhaps hypocritical in this way of assuming we were “the same” for my own comparisons.
In some instances, I found this to be a confidence booster. For example, there were clothes I wouldn’t wear until I saw how cute they were on my sister, Amber. And at other times, I think it made me more self conscious. If my sister looked a little awkward doing something, it would make me embarrassed that I looked awkward as well. Have you ever had times when you leave the house thinking, “I look GOOD today,” only to pass a mirror later and be horrified by your appearance (“I looked like THAT all day?”). Being a twin, at least for me, I didn’t always have that naive confidence. It’s kind of like having a mirror in front of you every time you dance, walk, run, smile, whatever. It may not be an accurrate mirror, but it is pretty close. And it is close enough that you are harder on that mirror than you would be on someone else. If someone else is a funny dancer or has a weird walk, you wouldn’t notice much. But if it is your identical twin sister you notice. At least I did. (Did you have similar experiences, Amber?)
Through the years I have been surprised to learn some of the impressions people have of me. A dental student rotating in our clinic told me she remembered me from helping her with the local anesthesia practical a few years before (the dreaded day in dental school when you learn injection techniques on fellow classmates). I asked her how I was and she said, “Intense.” One of my assistants told me she was afraid of me, that I was “very serious.” I gave a speech after my intern year for my department and people told me how surprised they were at how funny it was and “where did that come from!” I was at an interview for dental school and the dean told me a few minutes into our conversation that I was “very quiet and not a leader.” I know a lot of people who know me would be surprised to hear I am quiet.
I don’t feel super serious. And sometimes I can be funny. I know I can be intense sometimes but I never thought of myself as “scary.” Even growing up with a (fun-house altered perception) mirror in front of me, it can be difficult to be fully self aware of how you are being perceived. I am going to try harder not to judge those around me and to give off the reflection of who I hope people are seeing.