Wednesday, 9 October 2013

by Pang Huey Lynn, Form 5 Science 1, Class of 2013

How often have you heard someone say, “Oh man, I wish I had a twin. We'd be able to...”? There is a lot of mystery shrouding the idea of twins. It intrigues most people to no end. There has to be at least one point in your life where you have wished for a twin sister or brother, whether it was to help you with something (i.e. take a test for you) or just to have someone to talk to. There are many misconceptions regarding what I commonly refer to as the 'Twin Phenomena'. As one half of a twin group, I consider myself quite capable of being your personal guide to living life with a twin.

Firstly, what are twins? Twins are two offspring produced in the same pregnancy. Twins can be identical or fraternal. Identical twins are genetically the same. They are always of the same gender. Fraternal twins are twins which are genetically different. They can be of either the same or different genders. I am part of a pair of sororal twins. This is a term given to two female fraternal twins. Children produced from regular pregnancies are referred to as singletons.

The most common misconception about twins is that they have to look alike. Identical twins look very similar and very alike. However, there can be slight differences. One twin may seem taller or larger in size. One twin may have a birthmark the other does not. In the case of fraternal twins, they may still look similar, but they are genetically different just like any other pair of normal siblings. Fraternal twins can also look different like any other sibling group (e.g. me!) Fraternal twins may also be of different genders. Identical twins may exhibit similar preferences to things such as food and music, but fraternal twins, once again are like any other sibling group. They may take a shine to different things.

Take for instance, my sister and I. Growing up, we were constantly asked why we never liked the same things. We would shrug our shoulders and avoid the questions as best we could. We were constantly compared, and where we differed, people found it interesting. As a result we felt the need to pull away from one another to showcase our individuality. If one of us liked the colour blue, the other would like some other colour, like green. If one of us liked Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls, then Bubbles was off limits to the other.

Twins often get dressed up in the same clothes when they are younger. My sister and I dressed the same until we were about 9 years old. After that, we took care not to even buy the same clothes anymore. To this day, we do not have a single article of clothing in our closets that is exactly the same. Twins will try to pull away from one another in terms of dressing, especially if they look physically alike. This helps them set themselves apart. At least then people can tell that, say, the older sister dresses more casually while the younger one is more flamboyant. 

Another issue many twins have to face is how everyone views us as a pair and not a singular entity. We are commonly referred to as “the twins”. Albeit much easier than using our names (Lynn and Vern), do us a favour would you, and call us by our names? They were given to us for a reason. While we’re on the topic of Dos and Don’ts, please try your best to remember our names. Nothing irks twins more than being called by the wrong name. Especially if we don’t even look alike.

Twins suffer from the same thing every one of you faces with your siblings as well, just magnified. Sibling rivalry. The sibling rivalry between twins is one to go down in the books. The need to be better than the one you are constantly being compared to is amplified when she or he is the same age as you are. Both twins go through the same things such as exams, at the exact same time. There is no reason for one to outperform the other tremendously. At this point, my sister and I have figured out our own strengths and weaknesses so we no longer feel the same strong urge we felt as kids to outdo one another. 

While having a twin sibling should be no different than having a normal sibling, there is one huge difference. Having a twin means always having someone very close in age to you by your side. Twins mature at similar rates, so we don’t face the issue of having an older sibling who just doesn’t want to play games with you anymore or thinks he or she is too good for you. He or she understands your situation better than anyone else. A twin is someone you should be able to rely on in times of sorrow and celebrate with in times of joy. He or she will always be there for you in your times of need. I will always be ready to defend my sister whenever necessary, and she in return will be there for me when I need a person to turn to. 

For more information on twins check out One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I've Learned About Everyone's Struggle to Be Singular by Abigail Pogrebin.
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