1 + 1 + 1 ≠ 3

1 + 1 + 1 ≠ 3

Photo by Molly Kraybill.

Photo by Molly Kraybill.

As an identical triplet, the topic of individuality is an issue I deal with every day. Even daily interactions that may seem insignificant to others require a lot of deliberation and over-analyzing on my part. For example, simply strolling down a campus path instantly launches a panic of questions through my mind: Does the person walking towards me know who I am? Is she smiling at me because she knows me, or because she thinks she knows me? Is she treating me like I’m me, or is she just treating me like I’m one-third?

My sisters and I each chose individually to come to Goshen. As we always tell people, staying together was not our “deciding factor.”  We each loved Goshen and thought it would be unfair to ourselves to not come just because we would have other siblings here.

I won’t deny that it has been a blast to have two sisters that look almost exactly like me. However, like many things in life, there is a downside to this part of my identity. This side is one where I’ve struggled for 19 years with automatically being grouped together with my sisters, simply because we are identical.  I have had to work hard to develop my individuality from the inside out, simply because my physical individuality is not as evident. I’ve also had to form a tough skin, learning not to take to heart that much of the world can’t recognize my outer-self from a distance.

But sometimes this tough skin wears off and my frustration bubbles to the surface. I get tired of the staring eyes and dropped jaws that are guaranteed to occur when the three of us are in a public setting. I can’t help but laugh at the person that sincerely asks if I can read the minds of my sisters. (I mean, really?!) I feel demoralized when I’m asked to stand in a line, like some animal, as people guess who I am. I felt aggravated at the kids in high school who, even after four years of school together, put forth no effort to get to know me as an individual.

I want to shout, “Really? How can you not know me?! I’m Becca. I’m silly and wild and stubborn and creative and I’m not a morning person but I love sunrises and one of my favorite things to do is eat out of new jars of peanut butter right when the top is perfectly smooth. I’m just me. Can’t you see that?!”

But then the other side of me kicks in, and I recognize that I’m not being fair to those around me. I comprehend that, okay, my sisters and I really do look a lot alike. I guess we really do have the same eyes, same nose, same feet, and same crazy hair that poofs up like a lion’s mane in the morning. I realize the true oddity of what it means to be a triplet: to be a special case for one out of 62,500 pregnancies, to have shared a womb with two other babies, to always have someone to celebrate birthdays with, to always have two guaranteed best friends. And then I realize that I need to hand out more slack and forgiveness to others, recognizing that it is just plain difficult to tell us apart, especially at such a small college. And that the situation is quite a peculiarity to gawk at.

However, this concession does not come freely. You must play your part as well: please try to get to know me, and my sisters, as individuals. I will absolutely forgive you if you mess up and accidentally call me by the wrong name, or awkwardly bumble around while trying to remember our key characteristics. Trust me, I’ve done the same with other multiples! But please don’t let your fear of failure prohibit you from getting to know me.

This is me. I am Becca. I’m the one with the dyed-red hair and freckle on her nose. And now that we’ve had a formal introduction, the individual inside of me is waiting to get to know the individual inside of you. Where shall we start?

Written by Annalisa Harder

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