Transparency item: The Perspectives section of the Graphic is comprised of articles based on opinion. This is the opinion and perspective of the writer.
When my sister Arpi Sahakian, a cinematographer and podcast producer at PGM,and I tell people that we’re twins, their reactions consist of questions like, “Do you guys have that twin telepathy thing?” “So, who is older?” “Do you guys like being twins?” and “I wish I had a twin!”
If I had a dollar for every time I have heard any of those four phrases, I could pay off my Pepperdine tuition.
As someone who has 18-plus years of experience being a twin under her belt, I’m here to formally address those burning questions.
Sort of like a sixth sense, twin telepathy is the action of one twin accessing the thoughts of the other without any communication from them. It’s mostly a thing society made up, but it occasionally happens.
Sometimes my sister and I will end up saying the same thing at the same time. If there’s an audience, they’ll go bananas over what happened. Trust me, we’re just as surprised by the occurrence.
Other times we’ll purposely take guesses as to what the other is thinking, just to see if we’re on the same page. Sometimes, we’re successful; other times, not so much.
Growing up with a twin, you get very close with each other. Obviously. So, this “telepathy” thing is bound to happen. But this doesn’t just happen with twins — it can happen to anyone. The closer people are with one another, their brains think more similarly, according to Vice.
Regarding Who’s Older
My mom decided not to tell us who was older until we turned 18 so we wouldn’t pull rank over one another and try to fit a mold based on birth order.
It wouldn’t really matter who was older by the time we turned18 because we would both be developed individuals on our way to adulthood. It was a little frustrating having to wait nearly two decades to find out, but eventually, we grew patient.
Depending on birth placement, each sibling tends to take on a different role. Older siblings are seen as more responsible and perfectionists, while younger siblings are perceived as sociable and carefree, according to Parents.
Friends, classmates and strangers would all take their turns guessing who was older. Their choices would mostly be me because I was taller and —later on — I acted more mature. Some people thought my sister was older because it would be a plot twist from the majority vote.
Growing up, I became more of a stickler for the rules, while my sister was more nonchalant. I have a theory that the guesses of those around us subconsciously shaped us into the typical older and younger sibling roles, despite our mom’s protection.
Spoiler alert — my sister turned out to be the older one.
The romanticism of twinhood seems to gloss over some of the negatives that come along with it. One that arises often is the struggle with individuality.
An article from the Smithsonian discusses a study done in which researchers interviewed 20 sets of twins to discuss the differences between them. Some subjects talked about pursuing different careers, while others expressed displeasure at being referred to as “the twins” instead of individually.
I can empathize with the frustration of being grouped. People either call me and my sister “the Sahakian twins” or they’ll mistake me for her. My mind tends to draw conclusions that I’m not interesting enough to be remembered, unlike my sister, whose name people do seem to recall.
It’s hard to set myself apart when I feel all I’ll ever be is one from a set of two.
Throughout my life, I’ve noticed I have become exactly the opposite of my sister just to be different from her. Maybe taking on the role of older and younger sibling wasn’t from the guesses of those around us but rather me noticing her natural extraversion and trying to set myself apart from her.
Despite this struggle, being a twin is genuinely one of the best things that’s ever happened to me — not that I had any control deciding that. I have a built-in best friend, a trusted confidant and someone who won’t judge me for expressing my interests. She’s the only person I feel I can be my truest self with.
It’s truly a blessing to be a twin, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
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Contact Adri Sahakian via email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by Instagram @mouseratstan