A Series of Breaks
I. Breaking Away
I am a twin. For a very long time now, I had been vying to be my own separate person. My parents, or anyone else in our family for that matter, have never treated us as if my twin and I are just one person. I can’t say much for other people, though. For some reason, the general public thinks that because we are identical twins—same not only outside, but even inside, within our genes—that our personalities should be the same way, too. This is not the case.
Growing up, my mother always made us wear the same clothes. The garments would be similar in pattern and design, only differing in colors. We always had the same hair, the same earrings, the same friends, even the same face. As children, it was fun being my twin’s reflection, and vice versa. When I was old enough to realize there was something wrong in the picture, it seemed impossible, then, to alter the way that many people have been viewing us—inseparable, an entity that somehow cannot exist without the other.
In school, it always irritated me that other people called us “the twins” rather than by our own separate names. This was the catalyst to a series of events that would lead me to breaking away from being a twin. I so desperately wanted to be my own person. I wanted people to recognize me as Katrina; an individual. There was a time in junior high when I hated being a twin. Back then, being a twin was somewhat of a nuisance; after all, I had to go through so many efforts just to be able to get people to call us by our own names, and not “the twins,” to recognize that we were two very different people. Even though we were in different classes, people still kept trying to clump us together. In fact, the more I tried to break away, it seemed, the harder it was to separate myself from my twin; it was the only thing people ever noted about me.
Then, something changed in high school. My sister and I had completely different schedules, different interests, and different sets of friends. While I was involved in swimming and water polo, she got involved in campus organizations such as Yearbook and Key Club. We would wake up at the same time every morning, go to school together, but somehow, by the end of the day, we’ve become two separate beings, completely entrapped in our own lives, and almost a stranger to the other. There came a point in time when it seemed that there was nothing for us to ever talk about anymore, not even in those short moments we have during the night, laying down on our own beds, right before succumbing to sleep. We still had similarities—same taste in boys, the same favorite book, and the same opinions—but with very different interests. For the first time in our lives, it seemed that we were no longer competing, no longer trying to outdo the other in an attempt to be more different.
It was then that I realized that while I was trying so hard to break people’s habits of calling my sister and me “the twins,” I was trying to break away from my own identity. Although I do not have to let the fact that I am a twin dictate my life or who I am, it is important to realize that I am still part of a whole—me and my twin. I can initiate a series of breaks—breaking away from her, breaking free to be my own self—but it only has the paradoxical effect of making us even closer together, a whole. The more we grew different, I have come to realize, the closer we become. Instead of competing against one another, we started complementing each other. Although it took a while, it finally sunk in that breaking together, makes us one. The general public was right all along; we cannot live—perhaps cannot even function—without the other. Since then, I do not think I have ever attempted to stop myself from breaking away from the norm; after all, this habit has changed my perspective. The twin syndrome, as I like to call it, has never left.
II. Breaking Boundaries
The very act of me writing this piece is something I have never done before, and this action in itself is another one of my breaks. I am an immigrant who moved to the United States when I was ten years old. My training on writing papers started way past then, mostly in English classes in junior high and high school. In high school, it has been engrained in my mind to write in a certain structure: intro, evidence, commentary, evidence, commentary, and conclusion. For six straight years, I did not dare defy the standards, did not dare to break the boundaries that limited high school-level writing. It has always been enough for my purposes and needs. Since I've started college, however, I realized that there is more than one way of writing. In my ESEM class last semester, I found it quite liberating to write as I felt; to present my ideas in such a way that made sense to me, and not to the instructor, not to the other students, and especially not to the oh so standardized curriculum. Academic writing, as I've found this past semester, is not limited to a certain structure; its credibility does not solely depend on the number of sources one quotes from. But rather, it is a genre of writing whose boundaries and borders not only allow you, but almost encourage you to change it—perhaps break these boundaries—to fit your needs.
This essay is the start of me breaking the boundaries of the writing I had always known and followed. It is most likely that I still write in much the same way, my voice still consistent to my past papers, but the structure of my papers now is only fairly reminiscent of my papers in the past. I am no longer trying to attempt a triangle for my introduction, there is no block where my evidence and commentaries exist, and I am definitely not going to turn my triangle upside down for a conclusion. I am breaking the boundaries that have limited me from writing what I wanted.
By doing this piece, itself, I am breaking free from what has been engrained into me. By doing so, I am not just succeeding in freeing myself from the mold; I am also slowly making myself whole. I’ve mentioned earlier that it takes a series of breaks to make something complete, and the same goes for my personality. By attempting to break away from the norm, I am realizing what makes me, me. This type of writing may not be who I am at all, or in a directly diametrical possibility, maybe I will come to realize that this is what I like and would continue to like to do. Through this break, I am slowly piecing the puzzle together, of who I am as a writer, as a person.
III. Breaking Through
Going a step even further, by participating in this project, I am breaking not only away from the standards of academic writing, I am breaking through. A breakthrough: “a sudden advance in knowledge or technique” (“Breakthrough”). The Breaking Project is an “advance in knowledge or technique” in that it has succeeded in breaking away from the standardized views of publishing, and using the internet as a medium to enable and empower many people to share their experiences of “breaking”. It is a collection of “breaks” that is simultaneously performing a “break.”
But is it really a break? It is still a novelty; there is no sure way of classifying it. It is an ongoing project, a series of constant revisiting and re-editing. If this process is constant, then the project itself is not a break. What is considered to be a break, anyway? Is it just a sporadic change of direction, an alternative route? Perhaps, the break is not so much a break, but more like a point of inflection, in that the change is eminent, inevitable. The slope has been constant throughout a period, until we know that we have reached a maximum, and it is time to change courses, to inflect. It is the pause right before a roller coaster falls of the hill; the half-second it takes for you to realize the consequence of an action. The “break” is not necessarily the process of change—since that is ongoing—but the specific moment that the effects of change sink in.
The Breaking project is a platform that connects and bridges many “breaks” into a whole. Through participating in this, by submitting this piece, I, too, have become part of it. As breaking away from my twin, breaking the boundaries of writing has taught me, the pieces that come from these breaks are the very things that make up a bigger idea, a bigger thing. I am now part of the bigger whole that is the Breaking Project.
“Breakthrough.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2012. Merriam-Webster Online.03 Feb 2012. <http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/breakthrough>.