Twins of City High

Does growing up as a twin affect who you grow into?
Nicole and Nina Peterson 25 pose for a photo
Nicole and Nina Peterson ’25 pose for a photo
Yomi Hemley
Twin vs Non-Twin Relationships

Dynamic duo, two peas in a pod, double trouble, twins. Twins make up only 3.21% of all births in the United States, making it a relatively rare occurrence. Because of this, most City High students can’t relate to the experiences of twins. However, City High has a relatively high rate of twins, with at least two pairs of twins in each grade currently.

Twins are often perceived by others as different from regular siblings. Their shared age causes it to be easier to become closer with them than regular siblings.

“We do a lot more things together. Especially since our older brother is six years older and then our second oldest is four years older. So they do a lot of things together, [that was] the way it went. We were the same age so we did a lot of the same things,” Grace Schuessler ‘24 said.

There is of course good and bad when it comes to being a twin. This includes having to understand certain harder life lessons from a young age.

“There’s definitely lessons you learn. When I was little, we had to share everything. What’s yours is your twins. But in other ways, it’s really frustrating, because you do have to do some things that you don’t want to do to help out. But it’s not that bad. I’d say it’s pretty nice,” Will Karr ‘25 said.

Understanding these things early can help make others become more empathetic and understanding towards the people they grew up with.

“I definitely can’t read her mind, but I feel like if Julia is hurt about something, I feel her emotions a lot of the time. I don’t really feel like that with other people, just her,” Maya Shannon ‘26 said.

Although some twins may view non-twin relationships differently, other twins focus more on the similarities of the two.

“It’s hard to have any siblings and it also has its pros and cons. It probably wasn’t harder than any other sibling relationship,” Nina Peterson ‘25 said. “I don’t think that [having a twin] is objectively worse than having an older sibling or a younger sibling.”

“It’s in most ways similar, but I think it can be a little bit more intense. You’re in the same grade, we have a lot of the same interests. It’s kind of built in competition in a way which can be a really good thing if you’re talking about sports and academics. That can kind of push you to be better. But it can be a bit much sometimes,” Nina said.

Competition in Twins

“When we were younger [we were competitive], and then it just kind of stopped in between us,” Sam Schuessler ‘24 said.

“I mean, I think we consciously tried to try to avoid that. We were with each other all the time. We didn’t want to play games where there’s a winner and a loser because we knew that we would have to spend the rest of the day with one another and then it could lead to some tension. I guess subliminally we were [competitive] and we both wanted to work hard and do well,” Nina said.

“I used to [be competitive]. And then I realized, why? Why compete with him? It’s not really a competition on who can run faster. It’s more about like, ‘hey, you achieved this, good job’,” Will said.

Something unique to many twins is their facial similarities. Because of this, there can be an extra step when getting ready.

“I feel like sometimes we can’t wear the same clothes, same matching outfit. I get mixed up a lot,” Maya said.

With getting mixed up a lot, it can often lead to getting grouped together, causing some twins to have a peculiar struggle with personal identity.

“Some people will be like, ‘oh, are you Julia’ to me and then they’ll say to Julia ‘are you Maya?’ It’s a joke [but] I feel like sometimes people don’t realize that it’s kind of insulting,” Maya said. “People sometimes refer to us as the same person. We’re different people. If one of us does like different actions, it’s automatically both.”

Simple actions that many people find insignificant are things that twins can’t enjoy without getting their twin involved.

“We get grouped together a lot. So, for some things, if we were in the same activity, we’d get the same email or card being instead of like our own sort of [thing],” Grace said.

Struggles With Individuality

With being a twin, comes a struggle with individuality. Since birth, many twins have been forced to share things. A birthday, toys, and in some cases, a nearly identical face. Because of this, it’s understandable how twins can view individuality differently.

“We have different things we do for sure” Will said. “He’s way more school-oriented and I don’t really love school. There’s other things like cross country. He runs every day, has a strict schedule, and I’m just doing whatever I want. We’re very similar, but in other ways [different].”

In the fight to find oneself while having someone so similar to them, it’s not abnormal to try harder than the average person.

“I [felt like I] have to do stuff to try and make myself more individual,” Julia Shannon ‘26 said.

As everyone grows up and matures, it’s easier to find one’s niche or specific interests.

“At first [we were similar], and then once we both got into kind of junior high age, we started branching out. Now we have many different interests,” Will said.

“Definitely not hard to be separate. [It was] also helpful that I had two older brothers,” Sam said.

“We learned all the same things, but as far as extra extracurriculars, we did the same extracurricular so there wasn’t a ton of obvious divergence. Our parents always encouraged us to branch out, and no one was trying to make us the same. If each of us had an individual interest, we would go for it, but it just didn’t happen,” Nina said. “It was not on purpose. not consciously but organically.”

Although Nina and Nicole are able to see each other’s differences, due to them being twins, that isn’t the case for outsiders.

“In some respects, we have similar personalities, but in others we kind of contrast each other,” Nina said. “And maybe it’s not that we’re so different. Compared to other people we’re pretty similar, but compared to each other [we’re different].”

While Nina and Nicole have all the same classes, they still diverge from each other, making sure not to be together all the time and having some space between each other.

“It depends on the person because I know that it gets hard when people can’t tell us apart. There are definitely people that can tell us apart, whether it’s by appearance or by “vibes.” For people that don’t know us very well, it’s kind of a tendency to sort of see us as the twins, just kind of as an entity. For people that know us really well, they do see us as individuals. We can also be treated as a team, a unit. When people don’t know us really well, that can happen,” Nicole Peterson ‘25 said.

Twins have a special bond due to their shared struggles. Despite the differences between twin and non-twin relationships, it’s clear that being a twin is a very enjoyable experience for most.

“It’s just like having another friend. [Life is] not gonna be any different because you have a twin – you’re still separate people,” Will said.


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