Seeing double: twins tackle life as a dynamic duo

Juniors Maya and Keira Murray celebrate their sister’s birthday with their family. (Photo courtesy of Maya Murray)

Some may wish they had a mirror image of themselves since they were born. With a twin, having the same face, laugh and interests can strengthen the bond between the pair. Growing up as a twin appears to be the sibling jackpot, but how is life as a twin in reality?

Juniors Maya and Keira Murray are identical twins. Maya explained that as identical twins, they have almost identical features.

They said that they spend a lot of time together at school, home and extracurriculars.

Maya plays soccer and basketball and runs track. Keira spends her time cheerleading for the high school team.

“We have a lot of the same opinions, and generally we agree on a lot,” Maya said.

They explained that while growing up, their parents put them into all the same activities. Between sports, camps and other activities, they pretty much did everything together, they said.

Their mother, Tracey Murray, explained that raising twins is not an easy task.

“For the first six months, it was so hard because you never get to sleep, because there are two of them,” Tracey said.

Compared to their younger sister, Elli Murray, Tracey said that raising the twins was quite a different experience.

“Once the twins got older, it was almost easier than it was with Elli,” she said. “When there are two of them, they have a built-in play-date all the time.”

As they got older, however, Maya and Keira began to branch out and find their own paths.

“When we joined lacrosse, it didn’t take long for me to realize that it just wasn’t my thing,” Maya said. “I quickly learned that I should let Keira focus on her own stuff, and I can do my thing, too.”

Juniors and fraternal twins Ellie and Sydnie Smith had similar experiences. Ellie and Sydnie explained that being fraternal, they have very different features and look little to nothing alike.

They said that their parents also put them into the same activities growing up, and they still do them together.

Over time, Keira and Maya said that they learned they wanted to have their own identity and space.

“When we were growing up, it was common to hear comments like ‘Oh, Maya is worse at this, or Keira is better at this,’ but as we have gotten older, it is less common,” Maya said.

Tracey explained that there is a lot of potential for pressure with twins.

“It’s really important for parents of twins to be more aware than usual with the pressure and comparison you put on your kids, because it can potentially hurt them,” Tracey said.

Maya and Keira added that as they have gotten older, they don’t feel like there is as much pressure as before.

“We both have our own strengths now,” Keira explained. “I don’t feel bad that Maya is better at basketball, because that is her strength, and I have my own, like cheer.”

Ellie and Sydnie said they have faced comparison a little differently than identical twins. They said that being a fraternal twin is easier than being identical, because people see them more as individuals rather than as a pair. They added it’s nice that people don’t confuse them with each other.

Ellie and Sydnie said that most people rarely know they are related, much less twins, and therefore face less comparison.

“School comes easier to Ellie, and I’m okay with that,” Sydnie explained. “I’m not going to compare myself to her personal strengths.”

Ellie agreed with Sydnie, saying that she also has weaknesses of her own and tries not to compare herself to Sydnie.

Some may think that the biggest challenge of being an identical twin is getting mixed up, but Maya and Keira said it only affects them when people don’t bother to try.

“I get mistakenly called Keira all the time, and I even respond to it sometimes,” Maya said. “It only really bothers me when people don’t value me as a person and don’t even try to identify with me. We may be identical but we are definitely different.”

They added that the aspect of being a twin that really gets on their nerves is what they call the “one or none package.”

By one or none, they mean that if one twin is invited, people feel like the other must be as well. This can also mean that if someone doesn’t want to invite one twin, they don’t invite either.

“When it comes to being a twin, people see you as a package deal,” Keira said. “This is fine until it comes down to invites with friends or even sports.”

Maya said that it’s perfectly fine to invite just one of the two.

“People don’t realize we are our own individuals,” Keira said. “If Maya were to be invited to something and I wasn’t, I wouldn’t mind. It would be more hurtful if neither of us were invited.”

Sydnie and Ellie said that even though they do basically everything together, others still view them as their own individual people.

Keira and Maya view their individuality as a top priority. They both emphasize that they won’t speak for each other, and they respect each other’s privacy.

“It is super frustrating when I get asked ‘Where’s Keira?’ or ‘How does she feel about this?’ because we are both our own people,” Maya explained. “I am my own person.”