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What freedom means to both of us

Editor’s Note: The Forward is featuring essays, poems and short stories written for our Young Writers Contest. Today’s entry was written by Noa and Netta Dobzinski, 13-year-old students from the Ellis School in Pittsburgh. You can find more work from our young writers here.

Freedom. Most people think about big freedoms when they hear this word. Freedom of a country, or the different freedoms in the Constitution. For us, freedom is a very personal thing. Our names are Noa and Netta, and we are identical twins. When we were younger, we were inseparable. We would bawl our eyes out if we weren’t able to see each other. We were always matching and it got to the point where Noa cried because Netta needed glasses but I couldn’t get them to match with her. As a result of this, people began to think of us as one person. We were NoaandNetta, not Noa and Netta. We depended on each other to speak; if one twin was not there then the other sister would be too shy to say or do anything individually. We couldn’t stick up for ourselves, as we grew up being contingent on each other. We even made up our own language! We felt trapped, belittled, and bullied. We didn’t have freedom when we were seen as one person.

When we were little, we had our own language. We wouldn’t speak with anyone else but each other. My sister and I were simply together no matter what. We even share a rare eye disease. When we learned to ride bikes, we relied on each other for the encouragement and support needed to start pedaling. These things connected us, but while we are so alike, my sister and I are not the same.

To us, freedom means being able to make choices for ourselves and being able to rely on yourself and not a loved one. It’s being able to be free from stereotypes. As we matured and realized it’s not scary to become your own person, we became freer and freer. We began to make our own decisions about how we choose to live our lives. We switched schools and learned what it was like being your own person. The stress that was with us about being together and sharing everything slowly faded. Fast forward a few years, we are as liberated as ever. We are becoming different, with distinct personalities and styles. We don’t have all of our classes together, and that’s okay with us. We are different, but not as unalike as Yaakov and Aisav. Although we share some things (and write essays together) such as a disease and our clothes, inside, we are varying in character and opinions, and that’s not a bad thing as we’ve come to learn. We finally know what it’s like to be free.”

Noa and Netta Dobzinski attend the Ellis School in Pittsburgh.

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