"Dear Thelma" is a relationship advice column that appears in The Star, a publication that is part of the Asia News Network.
I am in my late 20s, and have a twin sister. Both of us graduated from prestigious national universities. We secured jobs which were not related to our field of study.
Things changed when my twin succeeded in an interview for a government post last year. Recently she finished her internship and got posted to one of the ministries. The whole family was delighted with her success because she was the first to secure a government job among my grandmother's grandchildren.
I'm still stuck in the private sector, and earning a small salary despite having a degree. I've tried many times to apply for a better post, but have not been successful.
I'm keeping a secret that no one in my family knows. I think something is wrong with my body. I suspect it could be a heart problem. I get palpitations for no apparent reason. I can only handle light activities.
I'm worried that if I should get an offer for a government job, I would have to undergo a medical examination. What if I fail the medical test? My dream of securing a government job would be dashed.
I have not told my mother about my health problem because I do not want to upset her. I avoid the issue of marriage, too, because I do not want my spouse to suffer because of my illness.
I hate family gatherings because relatives will compare me to my twin. I have grown to hate my sister and feel envious of her achievements.
I am depressed because I crave for success. Sometimes I cry myself to sleep. I feel that I am not a good daughter because I cannot be as successful as my twin sister. Please help me. - Depressed Twin
Dear Depressed Twin,
When one's identity is so closely tied to another, it is easy to feel resentment when the other party is doing well. You and your twin grew up together, did everything together. It is likely that the two of you were dressed the same way, had the same hairstyle and people often mistook one for the other. You were, in many ways, one.
The separation of identities, for many people, comes during adolescence. Identities start to develop during the teenage years. This is one of the reasons why adolescence is described as a difficult period for many.
However, with you and your twin sister, this probably did not happen because you had a common struggle that needed the security of a shared identity to help overcome. You went through trials and tribulations together.
Now that you are adults and are working in separate areas, the schism of identity separation is showing. This is one of the reasons why you feel resentment towards your sister. This is a normal part of development and you should not be so hard on yourself. See it as part of the growing up process and you do not have to feel so guilty about it.
It is not necessary for you to feel jealous of your sister's so-called success. Success means different things to different people. Just because your sister has achieved something that no one else in your family has, it is not a measure of success. And just because you are working in an unrelated field, it does not signify your lack of success.
Success means doing well in whatever it is that you embark on. It is very different from achievement. Your sister has achieved something. She has not yet succeeded in it. Appreciate the difference. You have not achieved what you want; it does not mean you are not successful.
Getting your degree is definitely an achievement, but it does not guarantee success. What you can do is, look into all the feedback you have received, and learn from it.
Do not view negative feedback as something bad. See it as a means to improve yourself. After all, nobody is perfect.
If you want a job in the same sector as your sister, see what it is that worked for her and figure out if there is any way you can replicate that. This does not mean you are copying her. You are only trying to better yourself.
Think of the countless biographies of successful people that are available at bookstores. People are constantly learning to do better. And perhaps that is the mark of success - acknowledging that one has a lot to learn and work towards becoming better people.
Success means being able to learn new things and adapt to new demands. If you are able to do that, you will be able to meet any challenge and do well in it.
So adopt this attitude at the next family gathering. When people talk about your sister, pay attention to what they are saying and see what you can learn from it. If there is nothing to learn - these things can become repetitive after all - learn to ignore it.
Do not withdraw into your shell. You have to learn to rejoice in people's success. This is important in all your relationships with people.
You are reluctant to pursue a personal relationship because of your health status. This seems a bit drastic and premature. After all, there is little evidence that there is anything wrong with you.
You have palpitations. There are many reasons for this symptom. It could be related to the state of your thyroid gland - and this is a non-fatal condition. Or it could be a result of stress and anxiety.
It is likely that you are experiencing anxiety. You worry about becoming jobless. Really, what is the likelihood of that happening when you have a degree? You will be able to find a job, though it may not be your dream job.
The best thing to do now is to get a medical examination to find out what exactly is wrong with you. If there is anything wrong, the wisest thing to do is to seek treatment. This is better than hiding in your room, ruminating over something you are unsure of. You are a young woman who probably has more resources than she realises. You have a twin sister who will probably do anything she can to help you.
Feelings can be overcome if one understands the circumstances which cause them. It requires decisive action, and a willingness to stop feeling sorry for oneself.
You now know what you have to do. Pluck up the courage required for you to move forward. Nothing is impossible. You just need to take that first step. It is now over to you.