Twin Lives: Excelling Together As Separate People

Before them looms a hundred-foot wall. The twins, used to doing things together, must scale the wall alone while the other handles their rope and makes sure it stays at a safe length. 

Lena takes a moment to check her harness with help from her sister. She takes a deep breath.

Taking hold of a protrusion, she begins to scale the wall.

It starts with an inward slant, proving to be a difficult challenge for the twin, she grasps whatever she can and strains every muscle to keep her balance as she climbs up. Gravity pulls on her like a sack of bricks as she maneuvers up the wall’s inward curve.                                                              

Sweating with the sun beating down on her, she reaches up and pulls herself up to the straighter incline. Her muscles ache, and she looks down to her sister, her body aching for a break. 

“Keep going!” Marlo calls up to her. “You’re almost there!”

Feeling newfound strength in her sister’s encouragement, she continues the grueling climb up the steeper half of the climbing wall. Her sweaty hands grip at the superficial rock, breathing heavy. 

She climbs and climbs for what feels like forever, looking down every so often at the distance she’s covered. Her sister calls again, with praises and encouragement to push her forward.

Finally, her hand reaches the plateau at the top of the wall. Her heart soars. Pulling herself up, she looks out into the distance. Up at the top, she can see for what looks like miles and miles. She can’t help the smile that crosses her face as she waves down to her sister, looking ant-like,  down 100 feet below her. 

“Now it’s your turn!”

—Pride in their Differences—

Fifteen-year-old identical twin sisters Lena and Marlo Slater were born to the Slater family on March 21, 2006. Twins are no ordinary occurrence, only one out of 250 pregnancies result in twins, and only three to four out of 1,000 are identical. As a result, identical twins are often seen as a rarity, and many assume that – because of their looks – they must act just the same. Now, that may be true for some twins, but just spending ten minutes with a set of twins like Lena and Marlo shows a very different story.

Identical twins Lena Slater (right) and Marlo (left) at age four. (courtesy photo )

In just ten minutes, the identical blondes Marlo and Lena show many of their differences, even when they don’t say them outright; Lena’s more relaxed and open, while Marlo sits neutrally and angles toward her sister. They giggle when you ask their biggest difference-

“Our height-“ Lena said. “I’m like an inch taller!”

The two of them twinkle with laughter at that, and Marlo gives a more serious answer-

“One of us is a little more introverted than the other,” Marlo said. “I am more of an introvert and Lena’s definitely more of an extrovert.”

Lena and Marlo are no strangers to the assumptions people make of identical twins, like the assumption that they’re the same person just because of their identical features. 

“I think my least favorite thing people say is that we’re, like, the same person,“ Lena said. “Just because we look the same, they just assume were the same person and I mean- it’s alright, I guess it’s fine but you know- a lot of people make assumptions about us and the things that we like and stuff, they just think we’re the same person when we’re not.”

With all of these assumptions, the twins have learned how to be patient, and can even pin-point a time when people begin to be able to truly tell them apart. 

“People we’ve known for a while can definitely tell the difference,” Lena said. “But if we make like, new friends they can’t really tell the difference at first- but usually within a month most people can tell.”

The twins’ interests are often intertwined, but they diverge in topic and specialization, just like their personalities. Both of the twins love art, but Marlo enjoys pencil-related drawings, while Lena likes to partake in painting. 

They’ve also thought about their futures and both want to enter doctoral fields, as they love to help – this selfless love for helping is even more apparent through their several kindness and leadership awards. This is another place where their interests diverge though, as Lena prefers helping animals and would like to get into veterinary work, and Marlo wants to go into a medical field based around helping people. 

The twins are always helping each other and helping lift each other up. When drawing they’ll give each other pointers and always appreciate having a fresh set of eyes to see their respective projects. They also try their best to take the same classes, and enjoy studying together. 

“We almost always help each other study,” Marlo said. “So, you know, it’s a big help to have that and bounce ideas off each other.”

They even help each other in their varsity track team, running together and pushing each other harder.

“When we’re on track, Marlo is usually further ahead while running,” Lena said. “And that helps me want to push harder, run faster, and try to get a faster time.”

—Almost Everything Together —

One of the age-old assumptions made by people about twins is that they can ‘feel each other’s pain’, and the twins have their own unique take on that assumption.

Identical twins Lena and Marlo Slater on a trip together. They are best friends. (courtesy photo)

“With me and Marlo we can kinda just tell,” Lena said.

“Like we can tell when the other one is starting to feel sick,” Marlo said. “Or when one is starting to struggle with stress or maybe anxiety, but we can’t really feel, like, downright pain in the other person you know?”

Some other things the twins share are just about everything, Lena says. 

“We share our room, we share our clothes- we share almost everything!” Lena said. “We’ve done it for so long there’s never really been a point where we haven’t had to share so.. it just is normal for us.”

Some people with siblings express anger or discomfort when their sibling likes things they like, or when they want to do whatever they’re doing, but Marlo and Lena actually prefer to do things together most of the time.

“We’re into similar things and I mean, we’re not afraid to stray from the path-“ Marlo said.“-So we tend to do it together.” Lena finished. 

While they have their differences and those differences are important, the twins truly embody what it’s like to be, well, twins! 

“It’s kinda generic but – as a twin – you always have a best friend,” Marlo said. “It’s always a party- we do everything together so we’re never really alone.”