When I was boy, I was enmeshed with my identical twin brother, Ted. Our identities were intertwined, wrapped among and around each other’s, like formless vines interlaced around the trunk of a tree. My Mother encouraged us to dress alike, and my father encouraged us to have the same friends. And our friends didn’t really think that we needed their friendship anyways because after all, we were each other’s best friends. They would often wonder out loud how cool it must be to be born with a best friend, a partner in crime, etc. Very few people could tell us apart. And it often seemed to me that people didn’t really care who was who. In fact, not knowing which one was which was part of the fun! The bottom line, it seemed, was that Ted and I were both pretty good guys. We were both nice enough, smart enough, athletic enough, and social enough. We were so similar and harmless, it seemed, that people viewed us as interchangeable parts. If Ted couldn’t come over for the weekend, they’d invite me instead. And If I wasn’t around, they’d give a shout out to Ted.
The problem with being interchangeable with Ted was that no one really took the time to cultivate within me my own identity. I didn’t occupy my own space in the world. I didn’t know where I ended and he began. Truth be told, I didn’t have a clue who I was. Without anyone validating me or mirroring back to me my strengths, my gifts, my personality, and my character, I was a stranger to myself. So when I was around 12 years old or so, I started to model myself after my big twin brother, Ted. He was, after all, 11 minutes older than me!!
Beginning in my mid-20’s, though, I began to differentiate myself from Ted. I set out on a quest to discover myself. Today, as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I want to encourage everyone to take the time to discover yourself. Discover who you are, what you believe, what you value, what you’re passionate about, and what makes you special and unique. I believe that you have gifts that are uniquely yours, and it’s your inherent right to claim them.
Socrates once said, “The un-examined life is not worth living.” He also said, “Know thyself.” I couldn’t agree with him more.
John Boesky, LMFT