Inter(twin)ed

Twins trying to find a balance between distinction and uniformity

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Inter(twin)ed

Ashley Cai, Kylie Akiyama

Ashley Cai, Kylie Akiyama

Ashley Cai, Kylie Akiyama

Daphne Ih and Olivia Ih

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As twins, there’s never been a point in our lives where we’ve ever truly felt alone. Of course, physically living in the same house is part of the reason, but more importantly, it’s that people constantly find the concept of twins more fascinating than the two separate individuals involved. “Twins” is plural, and yet, in the eyes of many, there’s only a single entity. Super-glued by words, eyes, and inquiries, there is no “Daphne” and “Olivia” in the face of the more interesting “Daphne and Olivia.” We’re supposed to represent two identical halves of one person, each with the same personality, mind, and identity.

But while we do share similar DNA, “twins” doesn’t mean “carbon copies.”

Even if it’s not expressed outright, there’s always an implicit expectation for twins to have the same hobbies and perform the same activities. Over the years, we’ve tried to separate our interests, but it’s done nothing to stop people from desperately searching for the “Daphne” in Olivia and the “Olivia” in Daphne. It’s as if accepting any visible differences between us also means accepting that we’re not “true twins.”

Still, that’s not to say that at one point in time, both of us did embrace the assumption that twins are supposed to be identical, even though we’re biologically fraternal. From birth until fifth grade, our parents put us through a “clone phase” complete with tacky color-coordinated outfits— Daphne was always pink, Olivia was always blue— and equally gaudy accessories. Our clothing alone marked us as the “package deal,” and it became second nature for us to respond to the other’s name. Eventually, our Filipino relatives stopped trying too: to them, we were just the kambal, the twins.

For a while, we didn’t mind being grouped together all the time. But when people started to forget that “twins” meant two people, and when classmates we’d known since kindergarten still couldn’t figure out who was who, we started to care. Being a unit held us back— just to uphold our homogeneous front, we would only act mutually, never independently. Both of us had to like or want something, period. But if we were always sacrificing ourselves for the whole, then who would we be when we grew up? Who could we be?

If we wanted to be happy and proud of ourselves, then uniformity had to go.

From that point on, our main focus became distinction: we did everything we could to differentiate our extracurriculars, interests, and clothing styles. A pianist and lacrosse player with a dominant right hand, Daphne prefers to wear simple, comfortable outfits and is often up late finishing Talon articles. On the other hand, Olivia is a violinist, field hockey defender, passionate leftie, and a classic flannel-and-jeans gal that spends most of her Wednesdays with E3, a local non-profit philanthropy group. When two roads diverged in a yellow wood, we happily went our own ways.

Even with all our new differences and nuances, it’s still difficult to fully part from that now sixteen-year-old label. But at the same time, neither of us have rueful dreams about being an only child, nor do we want to completely alienate each other. We’ll concede some similarities— both of us share the same friends, and we’re always up for friendly competition— but, for the most part, we like to be in a gray area in between black and white. Differences are necessary to combat uniformity, but it isn’t bad to share some commonalities.

Every so often, we come together when the two roads in that yellow wood converge again. But rather than resist each other, both of us are glad when we meet because we both know that we can leave the intersection not as “Daphne and Olivia” but as Daphne and Olivia.