The thick and thin of LMU twins and triplets

Originally published for the Los Angeles Loyolan and co-written with Jackson Souza. For original, please refer to: The thick and thin of LMU twins and triplets – Los Angeles Loyolan.

Photo Credit: Matthew Tymstra

Sophomores Matt and Eric have a lot in common. It isn’t their major: Matt is an economics and applied mathematics double major, while Eric is molecular environmental biology and Spanish double major. It isn’t their sport of choice: Matt prefers contact sports, while Eric runs. It isn’t even their school: While Matt goes to LMU, Eric attends UC Berkeley.

On paper, the two don’t have a lot in common. But one look at them is all you need to realize their biggest similarity: Matt and Eric Tymstra are identical twins.

“We’re the same person, but he’s 30 pounds heavier,” Eric joked about their similarities. The twins, who just celebrated their 20th birthdays this past Tuesday, are separated now, but they say they’re the closest they’ve ever been because of the distance.

Matt is but one twin who attends LMU, and as someone who is separated from his brother, he represents a very specific subset of twins. Whether they’re like the Lyons sisters who do almost everything together or like the Chirikians – who add to the twin equation as triplets – the LMU community has a myriad of examples of twin culture.

“Built-in Best Friends”

Right after introducing herself, Kiley Lyons reveals that she’s “blood type AB+,” saying she’s always sure to follow her introduction with a fun fact. If there’s one word that perfectly describes Kiley and her twin Kourtney, it would be “fun.”

The Lyons sisters, both senior screenwriting majors here at LMU, represent another facet of the culture as identical female twins who live together and call each other “built-in best friends.”

Kiley and Kourtney had similar experiences to Matt and Eric in that their “roles switched when entering college.”

The Lyons twins were first separated from living together during their sophomore year. According to Kiley, “[It] was the first time in our lives that we had not lived together. …We had to make an effort to see each other.”

In spite of their sophomore separation, they now live together and plan to stay living together after graduation.

“We’re [screen]writing partners … we have been told by a lot of professors that we kind of have to have the same brain, because we have to write with the same voice so our scripts are cohesive,” Kiley said. “So we plan on living and writing together.”

“Brothers of Brothers”

Most people believe that two is company and three is a crowd. The Chirikian triplets subvert that misconception with their radically different experiences as three parts of a whole. David, Orlando and Giorgio Chirikian are sophomore triplets who are all biology majors and members of Beta Theta Pi.

“We’re brothers of brothers,” David joked of their fraternity bond and their biological relation.

Despite their similar interests in school and fraternity life, the brothers consider themselves very different individuals and pride themselves on their triplet status.

“America is all about numbers, buying in bulk. What’s more than twins? Triplets,” David joked. “With triplets, there’s a wild card factor.”

“There are two different personalities to hang out with,” Orlando added.

Speaking about their differences, David said, “We might be born from the same mom at the same time, but we’re completely different people.”

“We love to do all the same things but we [each] like doing certain things,” Giorgio added. “For example, Orlando loves nature … and loves to go for runs. David loves sports.”

Growing and Changing

Among all three sets of siblings, the differences between their natural similarities and those that arose while they grew up are clear.

“We think the same. When people talk about twins having ESP, that’s what they’re talking about. It’s an innate thinking method,” Matt said. But the primary difference between the Tymstras, according to Eric, is where they put that thinking method to use: Matt is more right-brained, while Eric is left-brained.

Growing up, the experiences of being twins and triplets changed for all three sets of siblings. In high school, the Tymstras felt themselves becoming more different but still remained close. Both described the experience as living with their best friend.

The Chirikians concurred. “In grade school, it was different because you had playmates,” Orlando said of the evolution in his and his brothers’ relationship. “In high school, it got way more competitive in sports and girls. In college, it’s leveled out a bit.”

In college, the Lyons sisters had to overcome their first period of a lack of closeness after sophomore year.

“Junior year we got back to how we used to be, finishing each other’s sentences,” Kourtney said.

For Eric, the distance has meant a maturation in his and Matt’s relationship. “Being apart has made me realize how similar we are,” he said.

The Chirikian triplets have the unique experience of all being members of Beta, which David said speaks to their desire to want to be close versus being in a forced relationship.

“It’s cool, because we all chose to be together,” David said. “Believe it or not, we aren’t forced together. We chose this fraternity because it fits all of us really well, and that’s great.”

Twin Life After College

Post-college, the siblings see a lot of transformations in their relationships. While Kourtney and Kiley want to work together after graduating, the Chirikian triplets will face physical distance for the first time.

“I feel like we’re going to be finding our niches,” David said. “There’s definitely going to be distance because we’ll all [probably] be going to different [medical] schools.”

“I feel like it will be hard,” Giorgio agreed. “But I know that calling them and keeping in touch if we go away would not be a problem, because they’re my left and right arm.”

One thing that is clear among all three sets of siblings is the love they have for one another and the pride they have in their relationship.

“I don’t know what it’s like not being born a twin,” Matt said. “But it’s been great, growing up with your best friend.”

Eric concurred, “Everyone should get a twin.”


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