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From kindergarten to ninth grade, whenever we had to move around as a class we were always told to line ourselves up in pairs. Two-by-two, we’d hold hands and go from recess to classroom, classroom to classroom, anywhere. Why must it be in pairs? Why must we line up in twos and not threes, or fours?

The obsession with this particular even number always struck me as odd. Looking back, it was probably just a problem of practicality, but never could I have guessed that this peculiar set-up would define the way I lead most of my school life.

 

My Alter Ego

 

We are around the same height and the same body type. We sometimes speak in unisound and teachers confusing us with one another has become a common occurrence. Whenever we had to travel in pairs, we were each other’s default choices. “Best friend” is an awfully overused term, but what else would you call a person who would always hold your hand every time you go down the hallway?

 

But as time goes by, a best friend becomes more than a friend, and even more than a lover. He or she, turns into your reference. One very concrete example? Whenever we got our grades back, I would ask her for her scores and compare them to mine. When we run together, I synchronise my breathing with hers for the sole purpose of keeping up with her pace.

 

To the world, I am the more carefree, open, and possibly a more juvenile opposite of her, who is quiet and intimate. We’re so different, yet it sometimes seem like our brains are inter-wired. Because of this, ever since we met, it’s been a never-ending race to better the other one, to distinguish ourselves from each other. When I lose (and I lose a lot), I feel the worst when I lose to her, yet I would feel even worse if it was anyone else. She is the reason I push myself further when I think I’ve reached the maximum point. And I have an inkling that it’s the same way for her.

 

Apart at Last

 

At the end of this school year, however, there will no longer be a benchmark to measure up to, for either of us. As the doors to the exit of high school open wider and wider to swallow both of us up, we could be countries and continents apart. Inevitably, we will have to stop comparing ourselves to each other. Isn’t that better, though? Didn’t some wise man say that comparison is the enemy of happiness?

 

I disagree. As my whole school life was based on comparisons, I can say with certainty that some comparisons draw out the best in people. I see qualities that are intrinsic to my best friend that are invisible to the naked eye, and even to her. She probably sees the best in me, traits that I probably never knew I had. And as we hold the keys to each other’s self-satisfaction, we constantly strive for better. So here’s a celebration to best friends, and the potentials they unveil in each other.

 

An end note to my best friend who knows exactly who she is, stop worrying, you’ll be fine in college. In fact, you’ll excel, like I’ve always known you would

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To Thu Phuong

One of the writers of the column Student Eye, Phuong is Vietnamese born and bred. A little (in fact a lot) smaller than her classmates, her voice makes up for her size. If you’re lucky, you’ll find her sitting on a plastic stool on one of the busy sidewalks of Hanoi, feasting on local street food.

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