Search Results for: schlorff

May 21

Kirsten Schlorff (Choice 1: Identity and Time Travel)

Kirsten Schlorff

ENGL 121

Dr. Wender

2 November 2017

Choice 1:  Identity and Time Travel

My Identity Map (top) and Zits/Michael’s Identity Map (bottom)

In the novel Flight by Sherman Alexie , the protagonist, introduced as Zits, goes through multiple transformations in which he assumes different identities. As a matter of fact, experiencing these various transformations helps Zits find his true identity by the end. In the opening chapter, Zits identifies himself as half-Native American and half-Irish, which society often sees as conflicting heritages. It is difficult for most people to see someone as both white and Indian, even though it is possible for both heritages to co-exist. However, Zits is confused and unsure about who he really is, because he doesn’t feel Irish or Indian since neither of his parents have been a part of his life for years. In fact, Zits describes himself when he said, “I’m a blank sky, a human solar eclipse” (Alexie, 5). Throughout the course of the novel, the protagonist assumes six different identities. These identities include: Zits (himself), Hank Storm, an Indian boy, Augustus Sullivan (Gus), Jimmy, and Michael.

Zits is a 15-year-old foster child, who is highly ashamed of his life, his physical appearance, and even himself in general. Zits wakes up inside the body of FBI agent Hank Storm in a motel in 1975. Hank is also a half-breed Indian, and while Zits likes Hank’s physical appearance better than his own, he also feels trapped. As Hank, he states, “I am looking at a very handsome white guy in the mirror. His hair is blonde. His eyes are blue. His skin is clear. This guy hasn’t had a zit in his whole life. And this guy is me” (Alexie, 40). Speaking on Hank’s behalf, Zits also says, “I am beautiful,” after examining himself in the mirror (Alexie, 41).

After assuming the identity of Hank Storm, Zits runs into the middle of a gigantic Indian camp, complete with thousands of real Indian tepees and thousands of real old-time Indians. Transforming into a thin and muscular 12- or 13-year old Indian boy, Zits realizes he finally has a real, loving father and family. As an Indian boy Zits says, “I have a family. A real family. A true family. I am happy for the first time in my life” (Alexie, 65).

Next, Zits awakes to the sound of a reveille, a military bugle call. Even though Zits is aware that he is a soldier, he thinks he is still his normal self. However, after being shouted at numerous times, he is introduced by a general to the troops as Augustus “Gus” Sullivan. General Mustache described Gus as, “the best Indian tracker in the entire U.S. Army” (Alexie, 84). Gus is an old soldier, who has served for at least 20 years. Revenge made Gus lead 100 white soldiers into an Indian camp and kill innocent Indians. As Gus said, “This is what revenge can do to you…We are killers.” Considering Zits is half Native-American, he said he couldn’t lead the white soldiers in to kill his own people. Zits clarifies that not all Indians are the same though, when he rhetorically asks, “But we’re not all the same kind of Indians, are we?” (Alexie, 87).

When Zits transforms into the pilot Jimmy, he finds himself flying an airplane. Zits can feel the pilot’s emotions and see his memories. Jimmy can be considered a traitor because he cheated on his wife several times. Zits compares Jimmy to his own father when he says, “Okay, so I guess that Jimmy the pilot is a dirty liar and a cheat. My Indian father was a dirty liar and a cheat. So I guess this another kind of justice. I’ve been dropped into the body of a man just like my father” (Alexie, 118). Zits also states his opinion of Jimmy stating, “Jimmy is a major-league jerk. He’s made two women weep and wail in two minutes” (Alexie, 119). After his wife, Linda, leaves him, Jimmy flies his airplane into a large lake. As the plane falls, Zits thinks about his mother, father, the people he’s loved, hated and betrayed, and those who have betrayed him. At this point in the novel, Zits conveys that betrayal is a natural human vice when he says, “We’re all the same people. And we are all falling” (Alexie, 130).

Zits experiences the most emotionally painful, yet eye-opening transformation when he assumes the identity of his father. Forcing his father to remember the day he left him, Zits realizes that his father was emotionally abused growing up and was forced to believe that “he wasn’t worth shit.” Zits’s father was afraid of becoming like his own abusive father, and that fear made him leave the hospital when Zits was born.

In the final chapters of the novel Flight, Zits opens his eyes and returns to the bank in Seattle. When he realizes he is back to his normal self, he says, “I have returned to my body. And my ugly face. And my anger. And my loneliness” (Alexie, 158). Ultimately, Zits decides not to shoot the strangers in the bank and says, “I think all the people in this bank are better than I am. They have better lives than I do. Or maybe they don’t. Maybe we’re all lonely. Maybe some of them also hurtle through time and see war, war, war. Maybe we’re all in this together” (Alexie, 158).

Zits’s new foster mother, Mary, is the first person to ever genuinely care about him and keep promises. Mary provides Zits with skin-care treatment for his acne and shows him how to properly use it, and hugs him tightly when he cries. No one has hugged Zits like that since his mother died, which makes Zits think he will finally be happy and have an almost real family. After apologizing repeatedly, he says to Mary, “My real name is Michael. Please, call me Michael” (Alexie, 181).

To conclude, Zits’s journey of transformations throughout the novel Flight helps him realize that he is in control of his own identity by providing insight into several other perspectives. Each identity somehow speaks to Zits’s confusion, yet he discovers that every person has inner conflicts and moments of confusion. Ultimately, Zits learns that an individual’s identity is defined more by his/her behavior than by his/her race or wealth. No magical identity solves every problem. Instead, each person must work hard to become someone he/she can be proud of.

This overarching theme relating to identity is still prevalent even today. Most teenagers have a hard time trying to “find themselves.” People are constantly being judged, ridiculed, and labeled by others. Many foster children remain unsure about where they came from or who their biological parents were. For instance, Sherman Alexie incorporated much of his Native American heritage and first-hand experiences in writing and creating the protagonist for this novel.

Likewise, there have been many times throughout my life during which I have wanted to be someone else rather than face my own problems. However, in college, I began to realize after facing many emotionally difficult situations that I am the only person who has control over my identity and life. I have since learned to assume responsibility for my actions and solve my own problems, rather than blaming or relying on others to help me. The week before finals during the spring semester of my sophomore year at IUP, I was raped by someone I barely knew. After crying and being distraught about the situation for several weeks, I had to decide whether to let the situation define my identity as a victim or heal and move forward as a survivor. I was judged, victim-blamed, ridiculed, and labeled as many negative things. Sometimes it felt as if no one believed me. When I realized I was the only person who had control over my identity regardless of what others were saying about me, I emerged stronger than I ever was before.

May 21

Kirsten Schlorff (Redefining the Stages of Grief)

Kirsten Schlorff

12 October 2015

Redefining the Stages of Grief

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, grief is classically defined as a kind of hardship or suffering, a negative expression that one possesses. Grief is a wide-ranging topic though, covering various types of loss including breakups, divorce, and death, as well as an infinite array of emotions. Frequently, people judge others who take longer to progress through the stages of grief, labeling them as weak. Grief is also believed to be destructive to an individual’s health when it reaches a certain point. However, if that point is immeasurable, varying from person to person, does it truly exist?

In their famous hit song “Six Degrees of Separation,” The Script categorizes the grief of heartbreak after a failed relationship into a specific numerical sequence. “First, you think the worst is a broken heart. What’s gonna kill you is the second part, and the third is when your world splits down the middle. And fourth, you’re gonna think that you fixed yourself. Fifth, you see them out with someone else, and the sixth is when you admit you may have messed up a little.” Because of songs like “Six Degrees of Separation” that attempt to define the breakup process, we tend to think there is an ideal way of coping with and grieving over a breakup. Many people also believe that the grieving process adheres to an organized pattern throughout its different stages. This is fair to assume, especially when the media is constantly distorting the public conception of grief. However, this argument that grief follows a set organization fails to consider that just as all relationships are unique, all grief is also individual.

Because grief differs between individuals, the grieving process cannot be taught nor judged. There is no correct way of expressing grief. We are all human, healing in our own time and respective ways. Grief is not a static process starting at denial and resulting with acceptance, but rather a fluid process in which a person can both progress and regress toward a goal of acceptance.

When grieving the loss of a person, grief becomes more than just an emotion, involving the various stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler describe these stages in further detail within their book, On Grief and Grieving. According to the book, denial is the first stage of grieving and helps us to cope, to survive, and to pace our feelings. Anger, the second stage, can provide strength and structure as a normal reaction to the inequality of death. The third stage of bargaining can reprieve a person from pain, while hiding the underlying suffering as well. Bargaining is followed by the stage of depression, which allows us to slow down, rebuild ourselves, and actually comprehend the loss. The grieving process concludes with the final stage of acceptance, focusing on acknowledging the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that the new reality is permanent. After introducing each of the five stages in order within the first chapter, Kübler-Ross surprises readers by saying, “These steps are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or goes in a prescribed order” (Kübler-Ross 7-28). This quote illustrates that every person experiences the grieving process in their own unique way. Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief aren’t instructions defining how a person should grieve, but rather a personalized roadmap providing a sense of control over emotions that may seem uncontrollable.

For the victims of divorce, grief is an interminable cycle without a cure. Divorce rates are climbing to new heights in today’s society, ending almost fifty percent of marriages in the United States alone. My parents divorced when I was only a year old, but I was too young at that time to understand the long-term effects it would later impose on my life. Despite the fact that I had no control over my parents’ divorce, I have never experienced or understood the true concept of a cohesive family. Instead of living under one roof with two parents who loved each other, I spent every other weekend living out of a suitcase while I visited my dad at his house. Growing up in a divorced family caused me to experience grief that shifted stages numerous times throughout my life. When I was younger and did not understand the reason for my parents’ divorce, I was depressed more than anything, because my parents were never together like all of my friends’ parents were. I felt as if I was missing out; my friends had something I would never have. As I grew older and began to realize why my parents divorced, I became angry with my dad for having an affair and leaving my mom to take care of twin babies all by herself.  Clearly, the grief of divorce can be far different than the loss of a loved one.

Age is an important factor that influences the way a person experiences grief. Young children do not understand the concept of grief or losing someone. When death occurs, children cannot wrap their minds around its permanence, because they only see it as a temporary vacation.  Even at 11 years old, I was unable to come to terms with the death of my Grandpa, stuck in the depression stage for multiple months. My dad, on the other hand, was able to accept the loss of his father fairly quickly, comfortably speaking at my Grandpa’s memorial service less than a month after his death. A child may not experience the same stages of grief that an adult does. In most cases, it takes longer for a child to accept the loss of a loved one than it does an adult, because an adult has developed a better understanding of coping with grief and death.

Russell Friedman, an online author representing The Grief Recovery Institute, describes grief as the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior. Regardless of whether grief results from the death of a loved one or parting ways from a significant other, both signify an adaptation to a new, unwanted reality. My first heartbreak following a relationship that had lasted almost two complete years caused me to experience grief in an entirely new manner. At first, I was left in shock and disbelief that Cullen, the guy who said he would love me forever and marry me one day, was now leaving me. After the reality of the breakup set in, I became depressed and refused to leave my room or talk to anyone. The depression was eventually replaced with feelings of anger and revenge, because all I wanted was for him to regret his decision to leave me. In this situation, I ended my grieving process with the second stage of anger. Therefore, I did not grieve following the exact order of the five stages.

The initial shock of grief is like a heart attack. It leaves you feeling as if the weight of the world is crushing down, pain radiating throughout your body. Shock can be synonymous with denial and disbelief. During his sophomore year of high school, my friend Ty Yonkin, was tragically killed in a target shooting accident. In denial that her son was actually gone, Ty’s mom posted on his Facebook wall for weeks following his death. Even now, two years after his death, she still writes posts weekly about the heartache she feels after losing her child. This past May, around the time Ty would have graduated from high school, she posted, “Time is not always the great healer, and sometimes you just can’t pick yourself up off the floor and go on for others. Sometimes you just aren’t able.” A few months later in August, she also posted, “It never, not once, crossed my mind that I would lose my child. That my heart would continue to beat. That the world would continue to turn. It never crossed my mind.” In some instances, people never recover from the death of a loved one. As Ty’s mom mentioned in her post, “Time is not always the great healer,” because the reality of losing her son is just as painful now as it was the day he died. It is often thought that time can heal anything and everything. Even though time provides healing for most people during the grieving process, there are still people, such as Ty’s mom, who are never healed regardless of the time that passes.

The stage of anger in the grieving process may last an entire lifetime, depending on the circumstances of the loss. My mom has been divorced from my dad for eighteen years, and still battles feelings of anger towards him. She explains:

Losing your partner through separation and divorce is worse than death, because of the betrayal component. When someone dies you can still have positive and loving feelings for that person. However, when someone divorces and separates from you, all of the positive feelings you have for them disintegrate in a gradual or, occasionally, abrupt process. You feel as if you no longer know the person, and begin questioning whether your relationship with them was ever truly real. If there is children involved, it feels as if your dream of a happy, intact family and future is blown up by a bomb. Feelings of regret and revenge feed your anger.

A person may still experience feelings of anger, even after they have reached the goal of acceptance during the grieving process. Although my mom has accepted her divorce from my dad, she still remains angry towards him for ruining her ideal future.

With maturity comes a developed understanding of how to cope with grief. At the beginning of this year, my Gram passed away at the age of 89. When I first found out about her death, I was never in denial because I knew she was suffering from Alzheimer’s, an incurable disease. I was aware that after living a long life, my Gram would reach a point where the disease had consumed her mind. Despite the fact that her death was inevitable while her health conditions progressively declined, I was very depressed when she passed away. She was the last living grandparent I had, and had taught me so much growing up as a child. As a young adult, I was able to cope with her death and appreciate her influence on my life in a mature manner.

After reaching the goal of acceptance, people are able to channel their grief in a variety of positive ways. I was not able to fully accept the death of my Gram until I decided to get a tattoo in memory of her on my hip. The tattoo consisted of a music note heart with a horizon sun inside the heart, followed by the quote, “You Are My Sunshine.” As a child, my Gram always sang that song to my sisters and me. Although the pain of the tattoo was agonizing, it felt rewarding when it was finally complete. Getting this tattoo allowed me to feel closer to my Gram, and I will forever carry her legacy with me. Even though she is not physically with me anymore, I can now fully accept her death in a mature and positive way, as many others do.

Grieving in a disorganized manner provides a person with the freedom to heal naturally in their own time and express their personal emotions, without feeling pressured by society to simply “get over” the loss they are suffering. Of course, people typically associate grief as being a sign of weakness, especially when a victim cannot surmount the stage of depression. Nevertheless, reaching acceptance in the grieving process requires a tremendous amount of emotional strength, hitting rock bottom while somehow managing to find the power to persevere. Time is often considered the ultimate healer of grief because most people tend to get better as time progresses, but the amount of time fluctuates depending on the individual. However, in some instances, like Ty Yonkin’s mom who is still stuck in denial even after two years, no amount of time can provide healing. Acceptance ultimately delivers the light at the end of the tunnel for those who are grieving.


Works Cited

Friedman, Russell. “The Best Grief Definition You Will Find.” – The Grief Recovery Method. The Grief Recovery Institute, 6 June 2013. Web. 30 Sept. 2015.

“grief.” OED Online. Oxford University Press. Web. 27 September 2015.

Kübler-Ross, Elisabeth, and David Kessler. “The Five Stages of Grief.” On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss. New York: Scribner, 2005. 7-28. Print.

Schlorff, Rhonda B. “Divorce Is Worse than Death.” Telephone interview. 30 Sept. 2015.

The Script. “Six Degrees of Separation.” #3. Mp3. Phonogenic Records. 2012. AZ Lyrics, 28 Sept. 2015.

Yonkin, Tammy. “It Never, Not Once, Crossed My Mind That I Would Lose My Child. That My Heart Would Continue to Beat. That the World Would Continue to Turn. It Never Crossed My Mind.” Facebook. 8 August 2015. Web. 30 September 2015.

Yonkin, Tammy. “Time Is Not Always the Great Healer, and Sometimes You Just Can’t Pick Yourself up off the Floor and Go on for Others. Sometimes You Just Aren’t Able.” Facebook. 19 May 2015. Web. 30 September 2015.


May 21

Kirsten Schlorff (Love Squared)

Kirsten Schlorff

30 November 2015

Love Squared: Insight into the Life of an Identical Twin

Dear Reader,

Writing and compiling this essay has not been an easy process to say the least. Growing up, people always asked me what it was like being a twin, but I never really gave them an answer beyond, “well it is great sometimes yet horrible at others.” It is a complex question really, because no one else truly comprehends the experience unless they are also a twin. I have hidden the true, much deeper response to this question as a dark secret over the years. In a way, writing about my relationship with my twin is a form of public humiliation. It cuts to the inner core of who I am, and who Alison and I are as twin sisters. Yes, we are identical twins, even though we definitely do not look or act exactly alike as we once did.

I knew that in order to be completely honest in examining my “twinship” with Alison, I couldn’t tell the perfect story of dressing alike, confusing boyfriends, or trading places. Being an identical twin includes all the clichés: having an unwavering life partner, knowing the exact feelings of another person, wanting her to be the first to hear your story, respecting her opinion before anyone else’s, and physically experiencing someone else’s raw emotions. Alison has always been there for me, from the very first breath of air that I took. Never once have I been alone. We were welcomed into this world as a package deal—becoming each other’s playmate, sidekick, supporter, advisor, and biggest fan. It is hard explaining to other people that we could never hate each other, though we constantly fight and intensely argue; that we wouldn’t handle other people judging one of us, even though we are cruelly judgmental of each other; that we always want to tell each other everything, regardless of whether we are two hours away or just across the hall.

Here are some important facts you should know about Alison and I’s “twinship”:

  • We were born on October 1, 1996 at Williamsport Hospital in Williamsport, PA.
  • Our mom conceived and delivered us naturally, incredibly rare for twins these days.
  • Alison was born six minutes before me and she has never let me live it down. I should have been born first, but I was breech and suffered a broken clavicle.
  • We are each other’s only biological sibling.
  • My mom wrote our names, Alison and Kirsten, in her Bible far before she even discovered she was expecting twins. (1)




Kirsten Schlorff




“Friends Yet Enemies”

She’s my twin sister.

My best friend since day one.

No one else can understand me quite like she can.

Through good times and bad, we are each other’s shoulder to cry on.

She’s supported me through breakups, lost friendships, and even losing loved ones.

It’s so much different here at college, without being associated with my twin.

Never imagined I would miss her this much.

Love you Al! <3


She’s my twin sister.

My biggest competition since birth.

Arguments between us are relentless, it’s like fighting with yourself.

There are times when she frustrates me so much that I wish she didn’t exist.

We may yell and scream, but the hardest hit determines who wins the fight.

Despite the arguments and tears, it isn’t the same at home without her here.

Never imagined I would miss her this much.

Love you Kirst! <3

Alison and I were baptized when we were about eight months old. Even as babies, we were never camera shy. (Kirsten on left; Alison on right)


Being a Twin

What is it like having a twin sister? People constantly ask me this, but I do not blame them for their curiosity of the unknown. It is a complex relationship—a rare bond that few individuals can fully understand. Someone who looks exactly like me. Identical. Nine letters that almost reveal identity. Clone. Always being called the wrong name. Mistaken. Two separate identities that combine to form one. Schlorff. Twins. Sounds desirable to those who haven’t actually experienced it first-hand. Not as great as movies like the Parent Trap make it look. Sharing is automatically assumed. Everything. My half. Her half. Together equals one. Unfair. Trapped. Inside the identity of a twin. When will I become whole?

Twins are double the trouble, but Alison and I were also double the blessing. (Alison on left; Kirsten on right)

At two years old, we looked and dressed exactly alike. Most of our toys were even the same. (Alison on left; Kirsten on right)

Being Kirsten’s twin sister is definitely very unique and special. We have become each other’s best friends, not only twin sisters. Having a twin, is like having a best friend live with you. She is usually the first to know when I need help with something school-related, or even when I simply ask her for advice. I would describe Kirsten as very determined and motivated. She also has an incredibly uplifting spirit to support me when I am going through rough times. She has her mind set on being successful in life, and I doubt she will settle for anything less than what she deserves. I consider myself lucky to have been blessed with a twin sister, because she has been my best friend since birth.

–Alison (3)


My Family Tree

Image created using “Geni”


The number of twins in the U.S. continues to multiply every day. According to a 2012 report by the National Center for Health Statistics, the birthrate of twins rose 76 percent from 1980 to 2009 (Jacques). Identical twins are conceived when a single embryo splits in two after fertilization. Therefore, identical twins have matching DNA, because they came from the same fertilized egg (O’Connor).

Because twins share the same DNA, most people think that their fingerprints must be identical, which is only a falsified myth. Fingerprints are not solely produced based on DNA. When identical twins are conceived, they start out with the same fingerprints. As the babies start to move and each touch the amniotic sac, unique ridges and lines are formed on each twin’s hand resulting in different fingerprints (Jacques).

Embryo splitting occurs randomly, so identical twin births don’t run in families and genes are not an influencing factor. Having twins can become a trend in families, but it doesn’t necessarily bypass generations. However, a couple has an increased likelihood of having twins if there is a trace of twins within the maternal side of the family (O’Connor).

As depicted in my family tree, there is no trace of twins on neither the maternal nor the paternal sides of my family. Born as identical twins, Alison and I were exceptionally rare in our family because we were the first set of twins. When my mother first found out she was expecting twins, she was completely shocked. Nineteen years later she says, “Even though it was totally unexpected at the time, having identical twin daughters was the best thing that ever happened in my life” (Schlorff, Rhonda B).

Even though we still dressed identically, our different facial structures made it easier to tell us apart when we were in first grade. (Alison on left; Kristen on right)

Who’s Who?

Top 5 Differences Top 5 Similarities
1.      Our facial structure (Alison’s face is more round-shaped) 1.    Voice (sounds exactly the same over the phone)
2.      Height (I’m 5’7”, Alison’s 5’5”) 2.  Laugh (quiet, identical)
3.      Weight (I’ve weighed more from birth, now only about 5 lbs. difference) 3.  Intelligence (graduated 3rd and 5th in our high school class)
4.      Personality (I’ve always been more outgoing, Alison’s been more shy) 4.  Friends (same friends we’ve known since 4th grade)
5.      Interests (I performed in musicals and sang in choir, she played soccer) 5.  Clothing Sizes ( but we never share clothes)

Alison and I’s differences and similarities help to characterize and connect us as identical twins. However, our twin sister bond has never been that concrete, because it surpasses what we share in common and what we do not. The “twinship” we form together amounts to a relationship far greater than the sum of our individual personalities.

Image created using “ImageChef”

In high school, it was a rare occasion that Alison and I chose to dress alike. Even in our senior pictures, we wanted to dress differently. Wearing different clothes makes it easier for people to tell us apart from each other. (Left picture-Kirsten on left; Alison on right, Right picture-Alison on left; Kirsten on right)


Alison and I have been best friends with Chyann and Kaitlyn Jewell since fourth grade. They are also identical twins, and are only about a month younger than we are.


Q: What is it like being a twin? (5)


A: Being an identical twin isn’t as easy as it seems. Bring two humans that look the same, act the same, talk the same, and think the same together, and there is bound to be issues. There are times when I love having a twin sister, because I will always have a life-long friend. However, having a twin sister sucks at times, especially when you get into arguments. You are constantly fighting with your mirror image! Even though Kaitlyn looks exactly like me, we will never have the same personality or hobbies. I tend to be more outgoing and talkative than she is, but she beats me at every sport and reads more often than I do. Kaitlyn also enjoys cooking and spending time alone. Hands down, I can beat her in any argument!



A: As twins, my sister and I usually argue 24/7 over the stupidest things. We tend to be very competitive, especially with grades and friends. There are good days and bad days. Somedays I love having a twin, but there are others when I absolutely hate it. We may look identical, but we have very different personalities. Chyann is more sociable and dominant than I am, and she tends to boss me around at times. By now, we know how to push each other’s buttons and that’s when her stubbornness comes out. Regardless of our differences, we will always have each other to count on for anything. Twins have an indestructible bond that is complicated for other people to understand.


Spreading My Wings

Every high school senior planning to attend college knows the stress of completing college applications, hoping to get accepted to the right one. During this process, many students wonder which school is the best fit. Being a twin only made this process harder for me. I already knew I wanted to major in journalism and after visiting the campus, I fell in love with Indiana University of Pennsylvania. However, this college was over two hours from home and Alison wanted to commute to Lock Haven University. We had never been separated from each other for a prolonged period of time, so our relationship would take on a whole new meaning in the fall. I grew increasingly more nervous as the start of the upcoming school year was just around the corner, rethinking and questioning whether I had made the right decision. Maybe if I had chosen a different major, I could stay at home too and wouldn’t have to leave.


When the day finally arrived to drive out to IUP and move into my dorm, I was torn apart emotionally. I was leaving my twin sister, my best friend, my partner in crime behind at home, as I went off to college to begin my new future. Although most twins prefer to stay together through college, there are some like Alison and I, who decide it is best to venture off in different directions. In a way, going to college at IUP without my twin sister, has given me a sense of individuality that I never had back home. Everyone just called us both, “Schlorff” or “Schlorff Twins,” because they could never tell who was who. At college, no one knows that I have a twin sister, unless I tell them about her first. For once, it feels rewarding to hear my own name, to finally be called Kirsten. (6)

As twin sisters, Alison and I share the same group of friends we’ve known since 4th grade. Deciding to follow my dream career in journalism and attend IUP two hours away, required me to leave behind both my identity as an identical twin and my best friends.


College Separation

In the everyday rush of the college lifestyle, I rarely get the opportunity or freedom to relax. School work consumes my life and I find myself lost in a whirlwind with no time to spare. Little time exists to think about people from back home, even if it’s my twin sister, my other half. Texting each other a few times during the week is sufficient, although I wish I had enough time to catch her up on everything happening in my life. Wakeupshowerclasseslunchmoreclassesdinnerhomeworklimitedsleep. Repeat. Within a few weeks of my transition into college, my twin gradually became more and more like a stranger than my best friend. There was no time to tell each other every minute detail, like we had growing up together for 18 years. Our lives grew busier and we slowly drifted apart. Every time I leave home it is harder to leave behind my family and twin, in order to live my other life at college. Even though only two hours separate us, it feels as if we are years apart maturing in our independent ways—twin sisters becoming less identical with the passing of time.


Dear Al,

No matter how far the distance separating us from each other is, my love for you will never change and I want you to always remember that. I am grateful to have been blessed with you as my best friend, from the very first moment I entered this world. There are not many people who can say someone has “had their back” since they were born, but that is one thing that will always remain true between us. Regardless of what paths we take in each of our lives, what decisions we make, where we decide to settle down one day, who we decide to marry, or what future career we pursue, know that I will fully support you.

I know that growing up with me as your twin sister has not always been easy. There have been times when I have screamed at you at piercing volumes just to get my point across, and others when I physically fought with you trying to slap some sense into you. Despite our countless altercations over the last nineteen years, I hope you realize that I never meant to hurt you. All I have ever wanted is the best for you, because even when you do not see the successful potential you possess, I do. In your future, various people and things will try to hold you back and prevent you from attaining this success. Ignore them. Don’t settle for anything less than you deserve in life, whether it be in relationships, school, or even your career one day. If you are not happy, makes changes so that you are. As selfish as it sounds, sometimes it is necessary to value your happiness before others. After all, in order to truly love someone else, you must first love yourself.

College has brought new experiences for each of us, especially with living two hours apart from each other. I know there are times when you miss me being at home, and others when you are thankful I am no longer there. Whether I am at home or far away, I will always love you and you will forever be my best friend and partner in crime.

Love your other half,

PS: Some things are meant to be, the tide turning endlessly,

The way it takes hold of me, no matter what I do.

And some things will never die, the promise of who you are,

The memories when I am far from you. <3 (8)

This is what my twin sister Alison and I currently look like. Though we no longer physically appear identical to each other, we will always be identical twins.


Notes Page

  • Opening Letter- While trying to find exactly the right words to communicate what Alison and I’s unique twin sister relationship is like, I stumbled across the book, One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned about Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular written by Abigail Pogrebin. Every other book I found online about twins just skimmed the surface, and none of them actually provided inspiration or a deeper meaning behind the experience of being an identical twin. After I read the introduction of Pogrebin’s book, I was left speechless because it was like she had stolen the words right out of my mouth. Because she is an identical twin herself, she is able to describe in vivid detail what life is like having a twin sister. For this reason, I chose to model my opening letter to the reader around various parts included in this introduction.
  • Twin Sister Quote- I wanted to include a quote that both summarized and described a twin sister in a broader context, since I also included my own descriptions of my twin sister Alison. While browsing through quotes on Pinterest about twins, this one stood out to me immediately, because it uses a metaphor to compare a twin sister to a mirror revealing future possibilities. Prior to reading this quote, I had never thought about my twin sister from this perspective, even though it is a very accurate comparison.
  • Alison’s Note- Rather than just writing from my own perspective about Alison and I’s relationship as identical twins, I felt her thoughts should also be included. Because I’m away at college, I asked her to email via email what it was like to be my twin sister. I wanted readers to understand both of our feelings, not just mine.
  • Best Friends Since Birth- On my way to class one day, I received a notification that my sister had posted this old image of us as toddlers, on Facebook with the caption “Best Friends Since Birth.” It was completely random and surprised me, but it let me know that she still misses me while I’m away from home. This picture also illustrates how identical we looked when we were younger.
  • Q&A- I chose to interview my best friends, Chyann and Kaitlyn Jewell, who are also identical twins, in order to establish a broader context of identical twin relationships. Although Alison and I are identical twins, not every pair of identical twins acts exactly the same or has the same relationship. I asked both Chyann and Kaitlyn to explain what it is like being a twin and describe their twin sister. In identical twin sisters, one of the twins is usually more dominant and bossy than the other. Chyann is the dominant twin in her relationship with Kaitlyn, and I am the dominant twin in my relationship with Alison.
  • Spreading My Wings- While writing this narrative piece about my transition to college and separating from my twin sister, I incorporated findings from a scholarly article titled “College-Age Twins: University Admissions Policies.” This article concluded that while most twins prefer to be together through college, there are also some who do not. There is no single solution that will apply to all sets of twins. Deciding which college to go to is also harder for twins because they have to decide whether it is in their best interest to stay together or separate. Because I chose to major in journalism and IUP felt like home, I had to separate from Alison.
  • Today I Said Goodbye- Saying goodbye to my twin sister, who I had never been separated from longer than a week, was more difficult than I could have ever imagined. After I left that day, Alison posted this status on Facebook and it describes exactly how she felt having her twin sister move away. Because I included my feelings in a narrative piece on how it felt leaving Alison behind when I went off to college, I felt it was necessary to include her perspective as well.
  • PS Song Lyrics- I concluded my final letter to Alison with these lyrics from the song, “Some Things Are Meant To Be” from the musical Little Women. I performed in a production of this musical during my sophomore year of high school, and these lyrics always reminded me of my relationship with Alison. In the show, Beth and Jo who are sisters, sing this song together before Beth dies. Beth isn’t afraid to move on because she knows she is loved by everyone, including Jo. Regardless of where our future lives take us, I know that I will always love Alison.


Works Cited

Foster, Sutton, and Meg McGinnis. “Some Things Are Meant To Be.” Little Women The Musical Original Broadway Cast Recording. CD. Ghostlight Records. 2005. Metro Lyrics, 15 Nov. 2015.

Jacques, Renee. “11 Facts About Twins That Make Them Even Cooler Than You Already Thought.” The Huffington Post., 27 Mar. 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Jewell, Chyann, and Kaitlyn Jewell. E-mail Interview. 9 Nov. 2015.

Nicolson, Laura. Being a Twin. Digital Image. Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <>.

O’Connor, Anahad. “The Claim: Twins Always Skip a Generation.” The New York Times. N.p.,

2 Oct. 2007. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.

Pogrebin, Abigail. “Introduction.” One and the Same: My Life as an Identical Twin and What I’ve Learned about Everyone’s Struggle to Be Singular. New York: Doubleday, 2009. 11-16. Print.

Schlorff, Alison. “Best friends since birth.” Facebook. 16 October 2015. Web. 8 November 2015.

Schlorff, Alison. E-mail Interview. 10 Nov. 2015.

Schlorff, Alison. “Today I said goodbye to my sister as she moves off to IUP for college.”

Facebook. 21 August 2015. Web. 8 November 2015.

Schlorff, Rhonda B. Phone Interview. 14 Nov. 2015.

Segal, Nancy L. “College-Age Twins: University Admission Policies / Twin Research: Birth Weight And Neuromotor Performance; Transfusion Syndrome Markers; Vanishing Twins And Fetal Sex Determination; Mz Twin Discordance For Wilson’s Disease / Media: Big At Birth; Planned Separation Of Conjoined Twins; X Factor Twins; Cinema: The Identical.” Twin Research and Human Genetics: The Official Journal of the International Society for Twin Studies 17.6 (2014): 594-598. MEDLINE with Full Text. Web. 7 Nov. 2015.