Almost Twins

screen-shot-2016-06-01-at-3-46-17-pmBy Phoebe Chase

I am the youngest of three children and the only daughter in my family, but some say I have a twin sister. We’re eerily similar and equally sociable. We have the same, somewhat strange, sense of humor. We’re the same height — five foot one and three quarters of an inch to be exact. Thirty years may separate us in age, but that doesn’t diminish the similarities between my mom and me. As a young teenager this was pretty embarrassing. I mean, let’s face it, what kid wants to look and sound identical to her mom? But one seemingly ordinary day last fall, that feeling changed.

My mom was taking me to her office. This was my first time seeing her in a professional setting. It had been 16 years since she had last worked in real estate development, 16 years since she had last worked at all. After a lifetime of my dad going off to work every day, and my mom raising my brothers and me, my parents divorced. We had to sell our home, and my mom returned to work in order to support our family.

When we arrived at my mom’s office, I was shocked to see her in this element — giving presentations in giant conference rooms to intimidating executives, fielding questions from employees, and collaborating with co-workers. At first I thought, “when had she become this person?” But then something eye opening and empowering happened. Watching her in action, I recognized that the way in which she operates at work is the same way in which she operates at home. My mom has a natural ability to thrive in any environment. She can be lighthearted and fun as well as assertive and successful.

It wasn’t a metamorphosis at all. It’s who my mom is. It is also very much who I am. I’m reminded of my family’s first holiday after my parents’ divorce. For as long as I can remember, holidays were hosted by my mom. That year we were celebrating at my dad’s new apartment with just my brothers and me. As Dad loves to recall, I picked up on the apprehension and took over by initiating conversation, doing my best to entertain everyone, and making them feel more comfortable. Within an instant, the mood shifted, and I seemed to transform nervous energy into laughter. I used to roll my eyes at this story. Now I realize the value in it. Without even trying, I had done for others what my mom had always done for me.

That day at work was an incredible catalyst. It changed the way I looked at my mom, and subsequently, the way I looked at myself – really, the way I looked at life. I suddenly understood what it must feel like to be an adult, to rely almost entirely on oneself. I had always been accustomed to having my mom at home, but I finally recognized that I needed to use my inner resources, my own innate qualities, just as my mom did at work. The ability to exert stability and confidence regardless of the circumstances was my biggest takeaway, and I now embraced my new found independence. I realized how liberating it can be to find success on my own and to make my own choices. Whether it’s acting as a source of reliability for my friends, being someone they can turn to for advice, or making tough decisions and going out of my comfort zone, I know that wherever I go in life or whatever obstacles I may face, I will always have this strength within myself. I now know that I am able to remain unwavering in who I am, which is why I am rarely seen without a smile on my face.

 

Phoebe Chase, a 2016 graduate of The Dalton School, is a freshman at Northwestern.