My father is a fraternal twin as well, and as the frustration of always being one of the twins really began to hit us, he told us to get used to it. At the age of 50 people still remembered him and his twin brother the same way. But they had three older brothers, and at least in that respect there wasn’t constant comparison between the two of them. The constant comparison from our friends, our teachers, and even our family was probably the biggest hurdle we faced while going through our teen years.
Teenage years are truly a time for children to find what will be their idenitities as adults. With us it was no different. We started acquiring new hobbies and interests, and specifically, different strengths and weaknesses. But despite that, in school, we often had somewhat of a rough time. We were both very good students who took all honors classes in high school, and for that we were always compared. Even our parents subconsciously compared us. They recognized our different talents and abilities, but academically they considered us to be equals.
When we reached our junior year in high school, class rank and SAT scores became a big issue. Though we look different and behave differently, it was expected that we should think and calculate and write the same. Our father as a twin understood our frustration firsthand but still he used the “twin card” when one of us did very poorly on a test that the other had done well on. It was almost as though if one of us did well, the test had to be easy, but if both of us did not do well the test must have been difficult. We felt like shouting back at them sometimes, “Hey, we’re different people, and our brains are different too!”
Consequently, we didn’t want to go to the same college because we wanted our own separate identities, and our own separate experiences. Our 19th birthday, which is approaching, will be the first birthday in our lives that we will be celebrating apart. She chose to go to school in Texas while I decided to go to Tulane University in New Orleans. Because of Hurricane Katrina, my whole college experience so far has been a unique one, and very different from hers.
We are much better friends now than we ever were, because instead of growing up together, the societal misconceptions about twins made us almost into competitors in every respect. As a teen twin, I strongly advise parents to consider our story when their twins or multiples begin their teen years, and all the joys and sorrows associated with them.
Sincerely, AJ Jambhekar