This I Believe

Robbie - Venice, California
Entered on June 19, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Being Comfortable With Being Me

High School is an awkward time for most teenagers. Everyone is trying to fit in somewhere, somehow and discover his identity. There are popularity contests, peer pressure and soul searching. But I’ve been dealing with finding my identity my entire life.

I believe in being an individual. But more importantly, I believe in being comfortable with who I am.

I have an identical twin, so apart from the usual struggle of discovering who I am

and what makes me unique, I have to live with a genetic double. My brother and I are very alike. We’re both tall (I’m a hair taller, although he’ll tell you otherwise), and have many of the same friends and interests. We both stick out in a crowd, but sometimes its hard to stick out from each other. It’s hard to be an individual when people can’t even remember my name’s Robbie, not Charlie.

My brother and I went to a small elementary school, with only 40 kids per grade. We both played soccer, and were constantly competing with each other. We were always being compared to one another; “Who’s taller?”, “Who’s faster?” and “Who’s cooler?” were a regular part of my diet growing up. These questions drove me crazy, and I often fought with my brother over every shared similarity, from toys to clothes to interests. I did everything I could to distance myself from “my other half”.

Now we go to a high school with over 800 students per grade. In a big school, we don’t have to see each other as much. We still look similar—I have come to accept that we probably always will—but there are many subtle differences between us, like our hair, the way we talk, and the way we act. This doesn’t stop me from being called the wrong name—or the just as annoying and ridiculously obvious “does it bother you when people call you Charlie?”—but I can take pride in the big and little differences between us. He plays baseball, and I run track. He takes Latin, and I speak Spanish. He still plays soccer, but I play music. I still get asked the same litany of questions I always have, but they don’t make me angry anymore. And my brother and I don’t fight as much, either. Now that I have distinguished myself from Charlie, I think there is less need to separate from each other, or compete for the same things. I don’t struggle to be different anymore because I know I simply am different. I don’t need to prove it anymore.

Some say imitation is the biggest form of flattery. I disagree. I think one of the most essential goals—and obstacles—in life is to be unique and original, to be different. But the biggest hurdle is overcoming the fear of conformity or being the radical rebel, and simply being happy with who you are. Identical or opposite, it doesn’t matter.