My brother and I have always been total opposites. I’m a girl; he’s a boy. I’m tall; he is short. I’m tan with moles; he’s pale with freckles. I’m studying to become a nurse so that I can heal people; he just joined the artillery division of the military and is learning to kill them. If we were any more different, we would be another species. About the only thing that is similar about us is that we both have full lips. A trait that is characteristic of our dad’s side of the family.
When we were younger we never got along. To tell the truth even now that we’re older we still don’t get along. If one of us sees something as black the other insists its white. Even are beliefs in politics are as different as day and night. Growing up this was hard for me. I have always been a cheerful person and wanted to have a better relationship with my brother, but he has a short temper which has always been difficult for me to get along with.
I use to have a hard time understanding how we could be so different. We are less than two years apart in age. We grew up in the same house, went to the same schools, and knew all the same people. Then I heard of the MTFS, the Minnesota Twin Family Study.
The MTFS was a longitudinal study done on identical twins who were separated at birth and adopted out to different families. The objective was to establish how big of a role nature played VS nurture in determining the outcome of an individual’s personality. The results were more frightening than I ever could have imagined.
Many of these twins were put up for adoption at such young ages that they were not even aware at the fact that they had a twin. Regardless of this, many of them grew up to be eerily similar. In the case of one set of twins who were separated at birth, both were editors of their school news paper, both went on to study journalism at a community college, then both went on to pursue studying film at a university. The similarities don’t stop there. In an interview of the two found on YouTube, their hair cut, their clothes, and their mannerisms are all too similar to be the result of nurture alone.
The hold that genetics have on the outcome of what type of person we become is much greater than most would like to admit. We want to feel that we chose to be one way or another, but the truth is you can’t choose what you like and dislike. We are genetically predisposed to certain tendencies.
Having a brother that is so different from me has taught me this. I never woke up one morning and decided that I was just going to be happy and look on the bright side of every unfortunate instance; it’s just something I’ve always done. I’m just not easily upset by things. Likewise, my brother never woke up and decided he was going to be annoyed by every loud and happy person; he just is.
Knowledge of the impact genetics has on who we are, especially after learning of the MTFS, has given me a whole new found sense of acceptance people. My brother may be a little on the grumpy side, but I honestly don’t believe he has any control over it. He is who he is and I am who I am. I accept that and I love him.