No two people are alike. We know this. Even if we share DNA, which we all do. Of course, some share more DNA than others--e.g., siblings. But still. It all mixes up in its own special blend and expresses in its own special way related to both nature and nurture. I know this. So why can the differences feel threatening, or at least unsettling or discombobulating or stew-inducing?
That's me, above, at the beach. Photo courtesy of my sister, who is great with a camera and with original angles on things. We were at the Jersey shore, because I went to New Jersey last week to visit my sister and her husband. Even though my sisters and I can be a prickly bunch (I have another sister, but she wasn't with us in New Jersey), we had a good, rich visit. Still, I couldn't help noticing how the differences between us rattled me. Even what some might term superficial differences.
Example: clothing. My sister has a very interesting and stylish wardrobe, takes pleasure in putting her clothes together in intriguing ways, keeps her eyes open for new ideas, and looks good and put together pretty much all the time.
Not to say that I don't care about clothes. I do. And I too have some interesting pieces and try to put them together in interesting ways. It's just that most of the things I own are 20 or more years old. I don't shop much or easily. Agony is a more accurate descriptor of my feelings while shopping. Also, I work at home, so I don't need to consistently refresh my wardrobe. My approach to wardrobe issues makes sense, and most of the time I'm comfortable with it. So why did the fact that my sister's wardrobe outdid mine (see, now I'm framing it as a competition) have to stir me up?
Competition (or the related rivalry) is a discomfort that is built into most sibling relationships. At least in my case, this competition and the way I deal/feel in it, is a foundation for how I manage and negotiate difference/diversity in the world. I compare. I size up. I see where I stand in relation. I'm clearly ahead. I'm falling behind. Often, I'm fully side by side. But it doesn't take much to stimulate that comparative/competitive thing. Some say "celebrate the diversity," or "Viva la difference!" Yes and yes. But still. Diversity has many facets.