You are the story

“You are not what people say you are, but the story you tell yourself about the things they have said.”

Seven years ago, my mother told me that I wasn’t supposed to be born. Yes, that’s what she said on a phone call.

“Son, before I had you, I originally had two twin boys.”

“Wait… what?” That’s all I could say out loud because I never knew I had 2 twin brothers. I never met them.

“Yes, but they died at birth, unfortunately. I barely survived myself, and the doctors told me I should never try again to have another child. They said there is an incredibly high chance of another death, and it could even kill me.”

My head was spinning because I had never heard any of this before. I didn’t know how to process it.


“I told them I didn’t care, I will make sure to have another boy.”

“Right, Artem, my older brother… ok… oh… ohhhh” I started to piece things together.

“Yes, you came into existence from a massive desire that I had. It was dangerous, but I didn’t care. I want you to never forget that you came into this world from a strong will and the immense love it took to bring you here. You are special; that’s why I named you Aleksander. You are a king.”

Sidebar: This is not only uncomfortable to write, incredibly personal, but also embarrassing.

When I heard that I was born from that pain, I felt incredibly lucky, proud, and special.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned this story to a few of my close friends.

“You’re a replacement child,” one of them said.

My jaw dropped because I went from ‘Aleks was meant to be’ to suddenly ‘Aleks was a replacement child.’

It hurt so much to hear that, but what followed from her was amazing.

“No, it’s an actual thing, and it’s amazing.”

“What? What do you mean it’s amazing? It doesn’t sound amazing to be a replacement for someone else.”

“Some of the most amazing human beings were replacement children.”

Vincent van Gogh, Beethoven, Elvis Presley, Margaret Lawrence, Sigmund Freud, Mark Twain, Carl Jung…

The list goes on, and suddenly I felt incredibly lucky, special, and like I was put on this planet to do something great.

Here’s the funny thing… I am a replacement child. If the twins had survived, I would not have existed.

I could live my life choosing to think of replacement as a bad thing… or… replacement as this amazing thing that beat the odds.

Both are correct, but I get to choose the story I tell.

All we have is the story we tell ourselves.

I CHOOSE to believe in the story that makes me feel powerful.

How about you? What story will you tell about the things people have said to you?

“You are not what people say you are, but the story you tell yourself about the things they have said.”

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