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Is Twinning Winning? The Truth Behind Being a Fraternal Boy-Girl Twin

As humans, we live each day as if there’s no worse fate than death. In reality, though, there are several things much worse than death: poverty, torture, loneliness, tofu, karate movies, the college admissions process, midterm season, and eternally living in someone else’s shadow. At least, I think that’s true of my reality. 

You see, my introduction to the world was not a smooth one –– at least, not like my brother’s was. Just imagine trying to pull your head through an absurdly tight turtleneck –– except your head is a baby, and the turtleneck is your… 

My brother debuted on October 5, 2000, at 10:08 AM, while I didn’t make my entrance until a long, laborious nine minutes later. If only I hadn’t attempted to slide out of the birth canal arms-first, then maybe there’d be less of an “age difference” for my brother to over-dramatize every chance he gets! As a result, I’m not only the “younger twin” but the “dumb twin,” the “slow twin,” and evidently the “self-deprecating twin” too.

Most people think that being a twin is some great mystery, so I’ve always just indulged their curiosity. For example, I’m frequently asked “Do you like having a twin? and “Are you identical?” which to me are two of the most half-baked questions. Just as an only child doesn’t understand what it is to share the attention of their parents, a twin doesn’t know what it’s like to grow up with complete autonomy. Also, my complexion is about nine shades darker than my brother’s, my eyes are more round, and I’M FEMALE. So, no, we’re not identical –– but thanks for asking. 

I used to think that, between us, my brother and I created the ideal person. Upon birth, a full set of characteristics was divided first-come-first-serve. Of course, he got the height, the street smarts, the overconfidence, and the exceptional photography skills. I showed up nine minutes late after failing to follow him suit, left to wade through his reject pile. I have the diligence, the vivacity, the perfectionism, the self-doubt, and the wicked humorous writing skills… right? 

man and woman sitting on a bench
Alex Holyoake | Unsplash

For far too long, I believed my brother’s bold attributes and sense of self made him superior. I mean, he got thrown into our garage ceiling as an infant by our father and somehow turned out okay? I, on the other hand, got a concussion and nearly fractured my nose playing volleyball –– a non-contact sport… 

Nevertheless, as I’ve stepped out on my own at UC Berkeley, I’ve actually begun to regard my “weaknesses” of perfectionism and self-doubt as the strengths they are, encouraging extra effort and thoughtfulness. My traits aren’t undesirable, nor am I the “lesser twin.” Rather, I’m petty, self-critical, painstaking, and my unique self. At least there’s that?

For a long time, I felt held back by my twinship and the comparisons people would make with us being similar students and both interested in a career in the media. While being four hundred miles away from my brother is strange and a little sad, I’m also excited for the opportunity to forge my own path and stand on my own merit. In fact, thanks to Instagram’s abundance of cat videos and his newfound interest in painting, we’ve actually grown closer over the last month and a half we’ve spent apart. 

I don’t get mistaken for my brother nor can I pretend to know about the experience of identical or same-sex twins, but I can say that my experience as a fraternal twin in a boy-girl set has been pretty special. For example, my brother is one of my best friends (let’s hope he doesn’t read this, though, because I’ll never EVER live it down), and we’re both telepathic. Can life get any better?

Sydney Segal

UC Berkeley '23

Short (5'3") and sweet.
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