Twins at South: A “built-in best friend”

by Alyssa Chen, Features Reporter
photo contributed by Natsumi and Aoba Fujita

Telepathic, identical, and able to finish each other’s sentences — there are endless misconceptions about twins. Seniors Jasper and Theo Datta said they are often surprised to receive strange questions.

“I don’t know if this is a big misconception, but four people this month have asked if me and Theo sleep in the same bed, and I don’t understand that. We’re both over six feet tall,” Jasper said. “I don’t know what bed would fit both of us and I don’t know why people would assume that we would sleep in the same room or bed.”

In other respects, there are many challenges that arise from having a built-in best friend, especially in terms of individuality. For juniors Addie and Dylan Shanahan, being a twin has emphasized the importance of being able to work both together and apart in different situations.

“I feel like we build off each other in a positive way,” Addie said. “We have a symbiotic relationship.”

Though the unbreakable bond that comes with being a twin may seem like a dream come true to many, freshman Aoba Fujita said that people tend to not see her for herself.

“When I’m with somebody that I just met, they think that we’re one person [rather than] two different people,” Aoba said.

Theo and Jasper said that twins often have to change aspects of themselves in order to avoid being grouped together.

“When you’re twins, there’s always that instinct to differentiate yourself from the other person so that you have your own lived experience,” Theo said.

“You have this weird right to differentiate yourself even when it’s unnecessary,” Jasper said. “[Sometimes] it creates a lot of conflict or self-doubt.”

Even when twins are recognized as individuals, the comparative focus of conversation can be divisive. Natsumi said that the ongoing clash caused by such language in academic settings has been frustrating.

“Teachers and parents always compare us,” Natsumi said. “In the parent-teacher conferences, my English teacher said I am suffering in English, [while Aoba is] not.”

On top of that, Aoba said that the challenges of being a twin can extend to additional financial challenges that stem from having a sibling who needs the same things at the same time.

“[Say] you have to buy a computer or something,” Aoba said. “If you’re not a twin, then your parents [see it as] one computer. When you’re twins, [you] gotta buy two computers. So money wise, it can sometimes get kind of complicated.”

On a more personal scale, the dynamics between twins isn’t perfect all the time; Jasper said that he and Theo have not always gotten along.

“We’ve had rocky patches, especially in middle school because everyone’s a menace. Everyone hates everyone else and themselves,” Jasper said.

He said that since he and Theo had to rely on their immediate family for social interaction during the COVID-19 lockdown, they got a chance to grow closer in different aspects.

“Over quarantine and high school, [our relationship] has deepened a lot because we’ve worked with each other in a lot of areas and we’ve also figured out how to support each other,” he said.

While he and Theo have common friends, Jasper said that their close friends and social groups differ.

“As people, we’ve developed different groups of friends,” Jasper said. “We’re both friends with each other’s friends, but the people who we are closest to are different as time has grown on. We want different things in terms of socialization.”

Still, no matter how much they may change, Addie said that nothing can change the fact that she and her brother have spent the majority of their lives together. 

“We do everything together. When I tell family stories I always say ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ because I’m always with [Dylan],” she said. 

In that sense, there’s a fine balance between individualism and being a package deal, Theo said. 

“Recently, I was talking to people that [I] hadn’t talked to for almost all of high school … and when they talked to me [they were like] ‘you’re one of the Dattas,’” Theo said. “Maybe we are understood as different people, but we’re still the Dattas together.”