The extra factor: 3 sets of twins look at life with a double identity

By  Brienne O’Donnell and Julia Devarti
The Communicator | AAPSNews Service

Most teenagers can expect to see their best friend a couple days of the week, but for a small number of people, they live with them.

Summers twins
Kate and Dylan Summers, fraternal twins, are sophomores at CHS. "It's just like having another sibling, but they're the same age as you," Kate said. (Photo courtesy, Kerry Fingerle)

In general, the life of twins is not that different from the life of anyone else. “It’s just like having another sibling, but they’re the same age as you,” said Kate Summers, Community High School sophomore and twin. “It’s like having your best friend wherever you go,” adds junior and twin Sophia Kunselman.

The  Kunselman twins think there might be something to the myth that twins share a special “telepathic” connection. “Sometimes it actually happens … like I came from my mom’s house and Sabrina came from our dad’s house, and we showed up wearing almost the exact same outfit . . . we didn’t coordinate it; we had no idea,” said Sophia.

Another common assumption is that twins have identical personalities. Some people jump to the conclusion that twins think, talk and act alike. Not true, said Robbie Stapleton, Community High staff member and twin, “I love my twin, but I hate that nobody sees me for me.”

Stapleton twins
Robbie Stapleton, a teacher at CHS, has a twin sister, Shelley. "Kids would come over and I never knew if they came to see me or her or to get two for the price of one," Robbie said. (Photo courtesy, Robbie Stapleton)

In high school, Stapleton said she was sensitive about having a twin because of the assumptions people made and the conclusions they drew from their similar looks. Since then, she’s changed her opinion.  “I think that (the assumptions get) less when you are older.  When you’re my age, I will certainly say this: you’re less sensitive to those assumptions.”

Stapleton said as you grow older people don’t notice your similarities as much. But even though their appearances differ more now, she says that some things are becoming more similar. “The thing that kind of freaks me out is not so much our looks, but our gestures; not so much the way we look but the way we stand or are,” she reflected.

For the Kunselmans, unwarranted assumptions are not the most common points of conversation right now.  Now the prominent topic is college.  “We haven’t really thought about that. I mean we are independent people … we do have so many of the same interests that we may end up applying to a lot of the same schools,” said Sabrina.  “It’s almost like throwing yourself in a situation where the one constant thing in your life isn’t there anymore,” added Sophia.

Stapleton said it was important for her and her sister not to attend the same college.  “We [had always run] in the same crowd,” she said. “We had the same friends in high school, so we really needed to separate; I especially wanted that.”  Ironically, they ended up going to the same university for graduate school and even majored in the same subject.

Stapleton also faced issues with the social aspect that being a twin had on her life. “Kids would come over and I never knew if they came to see me or her or to get two for the price of one,” she said.

Kunselman twins
Sabrina and Sophia Kunselman, juniors at CHS, are identical twins. "Your identity is two fold. It's like you have yourself, but they also associate you with your twin, so you are never truly your own person." Sabrina said. (Photo courtesy, Kerry Fingerle)

Sabrina Kunselman agreed, “Your identity is twofold. It’s like you have yourself, but they also associate you with your twin, so you are never truly your own person.”

Summers recognizes that, even though her twin is a boy, they still are compared a lot of the time.

And the Kunselmans say that although people often confuse twins, it doesn’t bother them. Sophia said, “I don’t really blame them because telling twins apart can be difficult, it doesn’t come easily.”

Summers, Stapleton, and both Kunselmans all agree that they like being twins.  “I would say that in the different phases of my life it’s meant different things. But I had a best friend with me throughout,” concluded Stapleton.

(Brienne O’Donnell and Julia Devarti are on staff at The Communicator at Community High School. Reprinted with permission, October 2010)

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