Hi, my name is Adaora and I have a twin sister.
We’re fraternal twins (meaning she’s 5’6 and I’m 5’9 1/2 and curvy); I am far more liberal, full of faith in God, sensitive, domestic, and more of a heart on sleeve’er (though I hide it well) than my twin. I hate math and science, and those are the sort of things she studies in school. I like food, drink, style, beauty, theatre, drama, dance, music, literature, interior design, home renovation shows, and anything creative. She’s not at all domestic, and although she’s a good at sketching and drawing, its not her career focus and she doesn’t read for fun.
Recently I watched one of my favourite programs The Real. The panel focused on Tamera’s classic Sister Sister show, and during their discussion segment Tamera was asked to do the classic “Go Home Roger!” speech. She moaned, looked uncomfortable, explained why it ‘wouldn’t work’ for her to say it alone, and ultimately recited the line with Tamar’s help. In that moment, I knew exactly where her hesitation was: Tamera, like all of us born at the same day, place, and at approximately the same time as at least one of our siblings (1-2 minutes for me), there is a great need to be seen and received as an individual.
Like Tia and Tamera, my twin and I have completely different personalities; differing perspectives on relationships, and different ways of living. In spite of all these glaring character differences, relatives speak to us in exactly the same way. Please, relatives of twins don’t do this: twin siblings are individuals just like other siblings. Two people being born on the same calendar day does not mean they’re going to be sitting at the same chapter in their lives. I have always been able to tell Tia and Tamera apart in interviews, on TV, and everywhere they appear; they have different mannerisms, ways of speaking, dressing, and even different eating habits (I believe Tamera is a semi-gluten free meat and seafood eater and Tia is Vegan). I love Tamera and Tia as individuals, and I think it’s OK that she wants her space. Interestingly enough, Mary Kate and Ashley worked in the same acting industry for a time, and now they’re in business together (as designers for The Row and Elizabeth and James). In interviews, they explain how they have to work around each other’s temperaments and compromise. Their personalities are that different.
For me, entering a university (that was mine only), working part-time, and essentially moving from being ‘one of the twins’ to just ‘Adaora’ was a glorious experience for me: finally, people greeted and received me as an individual; because there was no comparison between the two of us (re: who’s skinnier, who gets the better grades, who passed their G-1 test at the first go, who’s gonna find ‘the one’ first……) I was able to begin living with just me in mind.
If you are given twins, please take the time to parent them according to who they are as individuals. Its not appropriate to expect the same from two people, and its odd to treat twin siblings as if they’re going to be living together forever. Take the time to realize that ‘sets of twins’ have individual courses in life; different dreams, goals, friends, desired partners in life, and ways of living. When I was a kid, my sister and I would argue like cats and dogs; I would try desperately for her to understand when she would say something I didn’t like, and she would never get it. I use to do the same thing with everybody and it never worked out for me. Its important to focus on bettering yourself as an individual and sharing your life with people who you connect the most with. In the case of relatives, you do what you can when there are glaring value system differences.
These days arguments are far and few between us. And when occasional blow ups come, I walk away. Why? Because I realized that she is who she is and I am who I am. Whenever necessary, I avoid fundamental value based discussions about anything on the news, and I do my best to compromise. You have to respect the differences in everybody.