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BacchusPeopleSpiegeloog 409: Conflict

Bacchus: Diverging from my Doppelgänger

By February 17, 2021No Comments

‘Why don’t you wear a nametag? One of you should really cut your hair shorter. Wait! Don’t tell me, let me guess.’ These are just a few examples of the questions and statements I have encountered for the past 18 years of my life. You may be wondering why and let me just answer it for you – I have a double. I’m an identical twin and my sister and I look pretty identical. Truthfully, I understand the mystery that surrounds us. I mean, it must be pretty incredible to be born with a best friend for life, especially one that is 100% genetically identical to you. Trust me, it is.

My face looking back at me is my earliest memory – except it wasn’t actually my face. Now, 18 years later I feel like I know her better than I know myself sometimes. I was blessed to have her by my side as we embarked on new adventures every three years due to my father’s contract. Starting in India and slowly making our way to Egypt, Germany, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kenya, and back to the UAE, I couldn’t have done it without knowing I had a familiar face to look out for in every new school corridor. 

When I’m asked, ‘So what’s it like being an identical twin?’ I often catch myself saying that I scored a deal, because I did. I have been lucky to have someone who has been there since my first breath. We’ve seen each other grow up from toddlers who helped each other steal cookies from the top shelf to independent university students. There’s a thing with deals though, sometimes things come with broken zippers or a small chip or one less coat of paint than what was advertised. In my seemingly perfect identical twin deal, there’s just one glaring concerning question, something that never fails to awaken an internal conflict – ‘when people can’t even tell us apart, do they know who I actually am?’

At every new school, I would always introduce myself to someone as Avanti, but then inevitably add that I had a twin. I had to, didn’t I? Because imagine if that person ever calls for me and ‘I’ don’t turn around. It didn’t help that we performed eerily similar in school too, to the point where teachers would sometimes ask if we worked on assignments together. Our grades in subjects we took together were always just a few points apart. So, when teachers would sometimes pull out the wrong report card in parent teacher meetings, I understood, but that didn’t diminish the hurt I would feel.

I realized that as we became more indistinguishable (looks, attitude, grades, you name it), the larger the chances became that people would mistake one for the other. There came a point where I did everything to help people identify who I was. If she had her hair up that day, you can bet my hair was down. But people couldn’t remember which one had her hair up and which one had it down, and my efforts felt pointless. As a kid I didn’t care, especially with all the moving I thought that being identical twins would be a great way for people to remember us. As I got older, however, I started to constantly ask myself: When did my biggest blessing turn into my biggest curse too? It doesn’t seem fair of me to call her my curse, and I had to remind myself that too. After all I wasn’t in this alone, and she was going through the exact same thing I was.

When I get called the wrong name, I know it’s not done with ill intentions, but I can’t help feeling as though my identity has been stripped away. I always brush it off, because I know to that one person it may seem like a harmless mistake, but a hundred harmless mistakes from a hundred different people doesn’t feel so harmless anymore. This is why my move to Amsterdam for university was symbolic to me. For the first time in my life, no one has messed up my name. What an odd feeling! Prior to my move, I’ve often been called ‘Aditi’ (my sister’s name) or ‘The Twins’ but I gained a sense of individuality in this city. Unless I mention I have a twin, no one here knows that. Whereas before, that was a huge part of how people identified me. In more ways than one, Amsterdam has been the remedy I have been looking for my whole life to deal with my internal conflicts. 

When people really get to know us, they realize we’re two different individuals. Our personalities are starkly different. On one hand there’s Aditi, who never fails to get everyone giggling, makes magic with her art, and can understand any concept effortlessly. On the other hand there’s me, Avanti, who notices the small things, is sometimes too stubborn for her own good, and won’t hesitate to be a trusted listening ear. It’s not right of me to want every person I meet to know me inside out just to tell me apart from my sister, and I get why they stick to surface level things like looks, which isn’t always the greatest indicator. My dad has always told me this: ‘Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.’ It helped me identify and keep close the people in my life that have taken the time and effort to know us for who we are, instead of asking us to wear a nametag, cut our hair shorter, or use our names as a guessing game. 

I guarantee you every pair of identical twins have one distinguishing factor that they tell everyone to help with identification. It takes a small time to learn it, but the big impact of simply calling them the right name goes a long way.

‘Why don’t you wear a nametag? One of you should really cut your hair shorter. Wait! Don’t tell me, let me guess.’ These are just a few examples of the questions and statements I have encountered for the past 18 years of my life. You may be wondering why and let me just answer it for you – I have a double. I’m an identical twin and my sister and I look pretty identical. Truthfully, I understand the mystery that surrounds us. I mean, it must be pretty incredible to be born with a best friend for life, especially one that is 100% genetically identical to you. Trust me, it is.

My face looking back at me is my earliest memory – except it wasn’t actually my face. Now, 18 years later I feel like I know her better than I know myself sometimes. I was blessed to have her by my side as we embarked on new adventures every three years due to my father’s contract. Starting in India and slowly making our way to Egypt, Germany, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kenya, and back to the UAE, I couldn’t have done it without knowing I had a familiar face to look out for in every new school corridor. 

When I’m asked, ‘So what’s it like being an identical twin?’ I often catch myself saying that I scored a deal, because I did. I have been lucky to have someone who has been there since my first breath. We’ve seen each other grow up from toddlers who helped each other steal cookies from the top shelf to independent university students. There’s a thing with deals though, sometimes things come with broken zippers or a small chip or one less coat of paint than what was advertised. In my seemingly perfect identical twin deal, there’s just one glaring concerning question, something that never fails to awaken an internal conflict – ‘when people can’t even tell us apart, do they know who I actually am?’

At every new school, I would always introduce myself to someone as Avanti, but then inevitably add that I had a twin. I had to, didn’t I? Because imagine if that person ever calls for me and ‘I’ don’t turn around. It didn’t help that we performed eerily similar in school too, to the point where teachers would sometimes ask if we worked on assignments together. Our grades in subjects we took together were always just a few points apart. So, when teachers would sometimes pull out the wrong report card in parent teacher meetings, I understood, but that didn’t diminish the hurt I would feel.

I realized that as we became more indistinguishable (looks, attitude, grades, you name it), the larger the chances became that people would mistake one for the other. There came a point where I did everything to help people identify who I was. If she had her hair up that day, you can bet my hair was down. But people couldn’t remember which one had her hair up and which one had it down, and my efforts felt pointless. As a kid I didn’t care, especially with all the moving I thought that being identical twins would be a great way for people to remember us. As I got older, however, I started to constantly ask myself: When did my biggest blessing turn into my biggest curse too? It doesn’t seem fair of me to call her my curse, and I had to remind myself that too. After all I wasn’t in this alone, and she was going through the exact same thing I was.

When I get called the wrong name, I know it’s not done with ill intentions, but I can’t help feeling as though my identity has been stripped away. I always brush it off, because I know to that one person it may seem like a harmless mistake, but a hundred harmless mistakes from a hundred different people doesn’t feel so harmless anymore. This is why my move to Amsterdam for university was symbolic to me. For the first time in my life, no one has messed up my name. What an odd feeling! Prior to my move, I’ve often been called ‘Aditi’ (my sister’s name) or ‘The Twins’ but I gained a sense of individuality in this city. Unless I mention I have a twin, no one here knows that. Whereas before, that was a huge part of how people identified me. In more ways than one, Amsterdam has been the remedy I have been looking for my whole life to deal with my internal conflicts. 

When people really get to know us, they realize we’re two different individuals. Our personalities are starkly different. On one hand there’s Aditi, who never fails to get everyone giggling, makes magic with her art, and can understand any concept effortlessly. On the other hand there’s me, Avanti, who notices the small things, is sometimes too stubborn for her own good, and won’t hesitate to be a trusted listening ear. It’s not right of me to want every person I meet to know me inside out just to tell me apart from my sister, and I get why they stick to surface level things like looks, which isn’t always the greatest indicator. My dad has always told me this: ‘Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.’ It helped me identify and keep close the people in my life that have taken the time and effort to know us for who we are, instead of asking us to wear a nametag, cut our hair shorter, or use our names as a guessing game. 

I guarantee you every pair of identical twins have one distinguishing factor that they tell everyone to help with identification. It takes a small time to learn it, but the big impact of simply calling them the right name goes a long way.

Avanti Vijay

Author Avanti Vijay

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