We can’t both be in dance because they only have one spot, but we don’t know whom it rightfully belongs to
My name is Shevy, and I’m a twin in tenth grade. I really love being a twin. My twin and I get each other in a way that most people don’t. It’s also fun to have a built-in friend, and it’s a great perk to study from Leah’s notes, which are the most coveted notes in the grade! However, sometimes being a twin can get annoying. When we were younger, the most annoying part was when people mixed us up. Even now people will treat us like one entity, and that can be annoying. Like when a random old neighbor will meet one of us and say, are you the twins? No I’m not “the twins,” I’m just me.
I got really upset about what happened this year, which prompted this letter. We’re starting play rehearsal soon in school, and I’m so excited! I love play and look forward to it all year. Last year, I was in song dance, and this year I decided to try out for drama. I didn’t get in, which was disappointing. When they gave out placements, I was told I was in dance.
At first I was a little confused because I didn’t even try out for dance, but I remembered that the school sometimes puts you in dance even when you don’t try out for it. Then, the more I thought about it, the more excited I became. I have a friend in dance and thought it would it would be so fun. In a way, dance is even cooler than drama because it’s a longer part, and the practices are so enjoyable.
All of a sudden I realized something interesting — my twin Leah tried out for dance and didn’t get in. She is a really good dancer, probably better than I am. She was very upset because she really wanted to be in dance. We both realized that it might have been a mix up, and that Leah should have been in dance and I should have been in song dance. We didn’t know for sure, but Leah was pretty confident. I felt very badly for my sister since she was the one who tried out for dance and was so disappointed she didn’t get in. And even worse, her twin got in without even trying out! However, I did get in, and now I really wanted to be in dance. We asked the head of play if it was a mix up, and she said it was very possible but she had no way of knowing for sure.
We can’t both be in dance because they only have one spot, but we don’t know whom it rightfully belongs to! Please don’t tell us to discuss it with my mother; she has a strict hands-off policy when we have disagreements and tells us to work it out ourselves.
HI, My name is Leah, and I am in tenth grade, along with my twin sister. It’s play season, and I am really looking forward to it. Last year I was in song dance, and this year I tried out for dance, because I like to dance and it’s fun to be in something different. Once I do something, I do it all the way, so I spent a few hours practicing dance moves. In general I’m a pretty good dancer, and I felt confident that I did very well at tryouts. My sister Shevy is a ball of fun but not really a dancer so obviously she didn’t try out. At tryouts I was schmoozing with all the other dancers and having a great time. I was excited to be in dance this year with these girls. When they gave out play placements, I was in for a shock! I didn’t get into dance, only song dance. It was strange, since I know I did really well at the tryouts, and the heads even came over to me afterwards and complimented me on my form and gracefulness. I came home in not such a good mood, and when I saw Shevy literally dancing about her placement, I had an ah-ha moment. I casually asked my twin what she got into, and she said she was in dance. This was a little surprising and strange because she hadn’t even tried out! I wanted to figure this out, because this wasn’t the first time we got mixed up for something. On one hand, l felt bad for Shevy, because now she thought she was in dance and she seemed excited by the idea, especially because her BFF was in also in dance. On the other hand, this placement was obviously a mistake, and that’s not fair to me. When we spoke with the dance head, she said there is only one spot available, and she does not care which one of us takes it.
What should we do?
Dear Shevy and Leah,
Two wonderful sisters who happen to be twins,
Sometimes in life our greatest gifts can also pose as our greatest challenges. For example, Esty, a super intelligent five-year-old suffers from anxiety since her brain understands information that she is too young to emotionally handle. Chaim is super fun and energetic, but that exact middah also causes him to get into trouble in school. Ari is super chilled and easy going with all of his belongings, but unfortunately, his friends get annoyed when he has the same attitude toward their belongings.
Family relationships are our greatest gifts in life. They serve as a lifetime of support and friendship as well as provide us with constant opportunities to grow and develop our interpersonal skills. The closer the relationship, the greater the asset, and, you guessed it, the greater the challenge. I recently met a young adult who was animatedly describing her dynamic with her twin sister. They both had sons a few weeks apart so the cousins were like twins as well. I clearly saw her joy when she was describing her special relationship.
Your genuine appreciation of each other comes through in your letters. However, when the difficulties arise, we tend to forget the good parts. A nice exercise would be to sit down and write all the benefits of having a twin sister. The longer you spend thinking about examples and writing them down, the more helpful that tool can be when you are feeling some of the frustrations.
In answer to your specific question about the play, I am assuming that at this point it is already worked out. Either you prevailed in a creative way with combining your different talents to the dance heads, and both got into dance, or one of you was mevater. As important as dance is, and while I am curious to find out what did end up happening, the most important part is not the end result but how you got there. If you resolved this misunderstanding with maturity and mutual respect, then you both won the main part! You will, im yirtzeh Hashem, have many years of being twins together along with the accompanying joys and hardships. If you practice resolving your conflicts respectfully and kindly, then your relationship will stay healthy and strong.
You have many of the skills necessary to work out conflict:
- Perspective taking and empathy — perspective taking refers to the ability to see something from someone else’s viewpoint even if it is different from your own. Empathy is the ability to feel someone else’s emotions even if you do not feel the same way. You clearly both expressed that while you want the part for yourself, you also would feel bad for your twin. Once you have this middah, you have the ability to problem-solve correctly, as you are not stuck in an immature, selfish viewpoint.
- Honesty — it is clear from how you are describing this misunderstanding that you were both honest about it. Shevy, you said right away that you think it might be a misunderstanding, as you admit Leah is the better dancer. When we work together, we have the ability to clearly analyze the situation and come up with a compromise or a solution that makes sense for all parties involved. Often the biggest hindrance in solving conflicts is that one or both parties are not honest with their abilities or with their part in the conflict.
- You are not just twins, you are friends with a strong, healthy relationship, and you appreciate the relationship. When we value our relationships, we resolve conflicts from a different angle. We recognize that more important aspect is the long-term relationship, more than each person’s individual motive.
I trust you both resolved this issue in a way that made you the true stars of your play… and in case you didn’t, you can always erase hard feelings, apologize, and start over. That is the beauty of life — many opportunities for conflicts and growth!
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 956)
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