“You can stand tall without standing on someone. You can be a victor without having victims.” – Harriet Woods
All throughout my childhood my dearest and closest friend was my own twin sister, Nicole. The love between us was really strong. Sometimes twins can end up competitive, but we were always supportive and loyal to each other. If she was hurting, I hurt. If I was in trouble, she’d do anything to rescue me. We looked out for each other.
In elementary school we were separated and put in different classes in the hopes we would make friends outside just each other. I hated that, but at least we got to spend recess and lunch together. I was very social and made friends easily. Nicole was more shy so she mostly hung around with me and the friends I’d made in my own class. For a long while, this was perfect. Until we got to junior high school.
We went to a very small magnet school. There were only about 50 people in our entire grade. There was a small group of popular kids and the rest were considered “outcasts” or simply lame. Most of my friends from elementary school were in this magnet school with us, so in the beginning we continued to hang out with our old friends. But by 8th grade, when I was about 14 years old, things started to change. My friends started becoming popular, and I started to become popular too. The only problem was, the popular kids didn’t like my sister. She was too shy, too smart, too good. The popular kids were into dating and pushing the limits of health and wellness, which is my polite way of saying they were into drugs, alcohol, and sex.
For a while I managed to straddle the fence. I was allowed to hang out with the popular kids even though I wasn’t into alcohol, drugs, promiscuity, etc. There were lots of parties and lots of times we would just hang out at someone’s house (especially when parents weren’t home!). People would pair up and kiss or do other things their parents probably wouldn’t have approved of. For some reason I was still accepted into this group even though I didn’t do any of these things, probably because they knew I wouldn’t tell. But when my sister was around she would balk at these things, cluck in disapproval, and I think people were afraid she would tell.
So my “friends” started making fun of my sister, and also started asking me to go places without her. Sometimes it was easy; she didn’t always want to go or I just wouldn’t tell her exactly what I was doing. But sometimes I could see it hurt her feelings to be left out and not included. It pained me, but I wanted to hang with these people because they were cool, interesting, and the guys were hot. For a while I made it work.
Then one day we were at a party and my sister was at the party too. I remember I was playing the piano for everyone (I had learned all the cool songs of the day!) and someone made a comment like, “Hey, Erin, where’s your shadow?” I acted like I didn’t know what he was talking about, but he said again, “You know, that girl who looks like you but never says anything?” Okay, she was painfully shy, wore thick glasses, and was an overweight teen, while I was thin, attractive, socially outgoing, and a little risqué. He said, “Why does she have to come with you every time we invite you to a party. Either stop bringing her or stop coming to our parties yourself. She’s lame and a total downer.” This was the moment. Would I stand up for my sister and get kicked out of the popular club? Or would I sell her out for popularity and acceptance?
I sold her out. With a laugh I said, “Yeah, she’s a real loser, but what can I do? My mom makes me bring her. I’ll just start ditching her and make sure she doesn’t come to any more parties.” They thought I was so cool. After that party I disconnected from my sister as best I could. We started fighting and arguing all the time about these so called “friends.” It was really hard because inside I was still hurting for her, but I reasoned that she was doing it to herself. If she would just relax a little and not be such a goody two shoes maybe she could join us. I fell into this crowd and followed them around like a sheep, dressing how they told me to dress, and acting the way they acted. It was disgusting, but I couldn’t see it, I just wanted to be liked by the “in” crowd.
Then something unexpected happened. In 9th grade my influence on the group was very strong and before long I was in prime position to be the queen bee. But there was this other girl who wanted the position and she waged a cunning campaign against me. Before long I found out that she was throwing parties and not inviting me. She started spreading false information and rumors about me. She turned my once close elementary school friends against me. Suddenly I was on the receiving end of their animosity, hatred, and ill will. They started making fun of me the way they used to make fun of my sister. And I was so hurt, felt so betrayed, felt like an outcast… yeah, felt like my sister must have felt when I stabbed her in the back and cast her out of my life. Oh. So this is karma eh?
I was really sad, scared, and felt totally alone. My self confidence was shattered. It took only 6 months for me to be completely cast out by this girl’s campaign against me. I wasn’t allowed to sit at the popular table anymore at lunch. I was no longer invited to parties. I didn’t fight that hard though, either, because as this was happening it finally dawned on me that what I had been seeking was not what I really wanted. Two-faced friends who stabbed each other in the back and did horrific things to their bodies just for some fun.
I found my sister again. We reconnected and rekindled that special bond we used to have. And I realized that I was never truly alone when my sister was around. Then I started noticing the other kids who were “outcasts.” I started connecting with them and discovered they were intelligent, compassionate, kind individuals who didn’t judge each other. They were accepting of each other’s differences instead of trying to make others be like them. What a concept! I found new friends among the outcasts, beautiful, bright shiny spirits who were sweet, loving, and wonderful. And I was so happy, because I was loved just being myself.
The popular kids were coming from a very dark place of low self esteem, fear, anger, anxiety, shame, and guilt. They were constantly lowering their vibrations, violating their ethics, throwing good judgment out the door, and stepping on the feelings of others to make themselves feel better. Once I was outside the group I saw them for what they were… scared, small beings.
I learned so much from this experience. First I learned never to disconnect myself from real love to chase a fantasy of popularity and acceptance. I learned that it is never right to hurt someone else to make yourself feel good, and that anyone who asks you to do this is disconnected from love and oneness. I learned that being myself was perfect and that I could find friends who would accept me for who I was. Anyone who didn’t, wasn’t a real friend. I learned that when I disconnected from the inner voice of my conscience I fell into an abyss of darkness where I couldn’t tell up from down, or right from wrong, where I could no longer see the path of love, but only the path of fear.
The years passed and we all moved on to high school, where the small group of popular people were swallowed whole and trounced upon by the popular kids from the local bigger junior high. I saw high school as a fresh chance to attract some new friends who were compatible with the real me. Being around people like this helped me blossom, increased my self esteem, and made me really happy. I never disconnected from my sister again, and to this day we are still very close, loyal, and connected. I regret ever disconnecting from her, and denouncing her, but I know I had to learn a lesson. I’m just so grateful to have learned it at a relatively young age.
If you act against your conscience to get something you want, you’re sure to find out it wasn’t worth having. If you are currently in a situation where you are taking actions that violate your own conscience I want to assure you that it won’t end well. Have integrity, stand up for your beliefs, disconnect from those who want you to be someone you’re not, find yourself, find your voice, find your inner light. Be the unique, beautiful person you are. When you are your true self you will inspire others with your courage to become their true selves. Try it and see.
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” - e.e. cummings