01 Mar Olivia and Oprah go to camp
You’re reading this post because you’re likely curious about Olivia and Oprah. What caused them to have such different experiences at camp? You know they share the same genes, but they were not raised in the same environment and therefore had very different early life experiences.
The impact of our early social and emotional environment has on our sense of self is enormous. We learn to develop ideas about who we are based on the way people treat us as we grow. Most of these ideas are subconscious. Like the town in which you lived that was either safe or dangerous, the people around you were either safe or dangerous. As a child, you didn’t really get to think, “Wow, I could be living somewhere else,” you just lived there. So you were just reacting to things without even thinking about them, because that’s how your life was. But you were nonetheless reacting in a way that kept you as safe as possible.
We are wired to survive. The first thing your brain does in any situation is to figure out how to survive it if there is a potential danger. If no danger, great! The next thing you’re likely to do is enjoy yourself or apply yourself to a task at hand.
Olivia’s life was safe. Her survival was a given. She didn’t worry about gang violence, parental abuse or from where her next meal would come. She was well provided for and her parents’ love was abundant. As a result, she could focus on all sorts of things – academics, friends, sports, camp, and whatever she wanted to do to express herself.
Oprah’s life never felt safe. To start, she didn’t feel like anyone wanted her. Once adopted, she felt threatened on a daily basis. She was abused routinely. As a result, she couldn’t focus on things she enjoyed because she was so worried about just getting through the day. She was constantly on alert because people might turn on her at any time. To survive in her household, she had to make herself small, unnoticeable. The less she said the better. She also had to steal and hide things to make sure she had enough to eat.
Can you see how Oprah might have trouble forming relationships since her siblings were constantly beating up on her?
Can you see how Oprah might have trouble trusting authority figures since her own parents were abusive and unreliable?
Can you see how Oprah might want to stay away from everyone? Can you understand why she might have stolen?
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Oprah and Olivia were identical twins. But now, they don’t act identically. Is this Oprah’s fault? Did Oprah begin life as someone who had less value than Olivia or was she made to feel like she had less value??
In fact, those questions are so important to ponder, we are going to repeat them for the post question.
Did Oprah begin life as someone who had less value than Olivia or was she made to feel like she had less value? How do you want Oprah to feel?