Spurious: Students adopt alternative identities


Renee Pu

Co-written by Sanjana Murthy

Beginning in 2016, CollegeBoard will offer a new version of the SAT with a revamped vocab section aimed to dissuade students from using flashcards to “memorize obscure words.” Instead, the test will focus on common and useful words offered in a broad context. As we say goodbye to the copious agglomeration of enigmatical lexemes, we will choose one SAT vocabulary word each day and discover the word’s meaning to MVHS students.

[01-22] SAT word- spurious feature image
Under the same roof

Senior Yuhan He (left) and Senior Michelle Chen (right) talk to each other on their way home. Chen has lived with He’s family since July 2015. Photo by Renee Pu
Senior Yuhan He (left) and Senior Michelle Chen (right) talk to each other on their way home. Chen has lived with He’s family since July 2015. Photo by Renee Pu
Being spurious isn’t always malicious. It can be sweet, fun and even spontaneous.

That’s why senior Yuhan He and senior Michelle Chen enjoy telling others that they are twins when they go to church together on Sundays. And people believe them.

“Sometimes they will ask us if we are twins before we tell them anything,” He said. “When we have lived under the same roof for long enough, we start to be like each other in personality in addition to looking alike.”

Chen moved to He’s house in July 2015 as an international student. Chen decided to choose He’s family as a host family since both of her parents were in Taiwan. Chen and He were already good friends before Chen moved in, but their personalities began to converge only after they spent more time with each other every day.

Once when they were using WeChat, a Chinese social media platform, they switched names and chatted with mutual friends. They mimicked each other’s talking style and picked eccentric topics. When those mutual friends was confused on the other side, they bursted out laughing together in their room.

The funny thing is that they used to be utterly different.

Chen loved to wear dresses with bright colors and cute decorative patterns, whereas He enjoyed simple tops with dark colors and blue jeans. Chen had a gentle personality while He was more straightforward. And although Chen completes every assignment as soon as possible, He acknowledges her tendency to procrastinate.

Their similar life goals, however, managed to bring them together.

“We study as hard as we can,” He said, “and enjoy life as much as possible.”

Together, they have gone hiking, skiing and paintballing. They believe that their shared experiences have complemented their uniquenesses and helped them improve on their lifestyles. For example, when Chen races to work on her homework, He calms her and tells her to slow down. When He is procrastinating, Chen reminds her and make sure she finish in time.

“We started to try new things and to change ourselves,” Chen explained. “And that’s why we’re more and more alike. My clothes style evolved to be more mature, and Yuhan bought more colorful outfits. Sometimes we would dress up like each other, and she would even put on dresses.”

“We are like twins, but even closer,” He said, “because we are innately so different, in a good way.”

Slightly speechless

slightly speechless
Senior Nupoor Gandhi puts her hand over her mouth to indicate how she is unable to speak. This is one of the ways she takes on a different identity in cases of boredom. Photo by Sanjana Murthy.

She walked into her freshman biology class and sat down next to her lab partner and good friend. Her friend began chatting animatedly about something funny that had happened earlier that same day, and expected a response. However, she got nothing besides a piece of paper with the words ‘I have chlamydia.’

It can get tiring living your entire life as the same person, in the same body. That’s why senior Nupoor Gandhi likes to switch things up every once in awhile, specifically by pretending to have lost the ability to speak.

In her freshman year, Gandhi managed to convince her friend that she was unable to speak due to having contracted an STI and refused to open her mouth the entire period of biology.

“She can be extremely gullible,” Gandhi said, smiling fondly at the memory.

Another time, while feeling bored at the airport with her family, Gandhi stopped talking to see if her parents would notice and ask what was wrong. This time however, her plan failed because her parents, while gullible like her friend, never even noticed that she had stopped talking.

“I don’t really do this consciously, it’s not like a repeat thing,” Gandhi said.

She clarified that this act of spuriousness mainly stems from extreme boredom rather than a desire to fool those around her.

Either way, temporarily taking on a new identity is something Gandhi truly enjoys, even if it leaves her friends and family feeling frustrated and foolish.