From Our ReadersBeing A Twin Isn’t EasyFrom Our Readers

I’ve always thought of myself as a blessed individual. After all, unlike most people, I do have a sister that looks exactly like me. My sister once told me that she considered herself the luckiest person in the world — for she was born one minute after her best friend. Besides being utterly flattered, I had to agree with her. Because of her existence, I was never alone growing up. I always had someone to play with during recess and to sit with during lunch.

I really enjoy having an identical twin sister. I feel that she understands me more than anyone ever could. We have similar tastes; we can talk about an episode of Community for hours and never get tired of each other’s company. I don’t have to finish my sentences most of the time because my sister already knows what I’m going to say. We’ve found ourselves thinking of the same thing or having the same dream. My sister is the first person that pops into my mind when I think, “Whom should I share my thoughts about ______ with?”

But like anything in the world, it’s not easy being a twin. I can think of several disadvantages of having someone that looks exactly like you. When someone tells me that he or she thinks it’d be amazing to have a twin, I get extremely uncomfortable. Having a twin doesn’t make me any more special than someone who doesn’t have a twin. In some occasions, I feel that having a twin makes simple things difficult. For example, it’s really hard to cope with the fact that some people can’t tell who I am the moment they see me. Some call me by my first name, but some call me by my last name in order to avoid the embarrassment of calling me by my sister’s name.

When I walk through the halls of my school, many call me “twin,” and that always brushes me the wrong way. I don’t like being solely called “twin” because it makes it seem like that’s all I am. Having a twin makes it harder for me to figure out who I am; I’m not unique because someone looks and acts like me. There have been instances where people considered my sister and I to be just one person, and that is the most hurtful thing I’ve heard directed at me.

That’s not all. For being twins, my sister and I tend to freak some people out. I remember one instance in English class last year where our teacher asked us to draw a cartoon describing what happens in Odysseus. My sister and I were sitting in opposite sides of the room, yet we somehow managed to draw very similar cartoons. Our teacher called out the teacher next door to come and see this strange occurrence. This happened in October, where things always tend to look creepier than they are because of Halloween, and the teacher made some unnecessary comment about how freaky this twin business is.

Freaking out adults is something that I’ve gotten used to. The instance highlighted above has happened several times in different forms. What I really can’t get past is scaring babies. Babies look at me, then look at my sister, then turn their gazes back to me and start crying. There is nothing more traumatizing than making a baby cry just because you have someone that looks like you.

The hardest thing about being a twin is so complex that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to comprehend or explain completely. My sister and I have done everything together for the past sixteen years. Yet, we both know that one day we’ll have to get “twinvorced.” I know it won’t be for the next six or seven years, but I can already predict a huge fight over who gets to keep the complete first season of Girls or some other precious object we co-own. But that isn’t the biggest thing I’m worried about. To me, life isn’t complete without having my twin sister to share it with. Yet I know it’s essential that we split up once we go out into the “real world.” We both have to find ourselves, and to do that, we can’t have each other lingering close by. I just know that parting ways with my sister will be the hardest thing I’ll ever do, and I dread that moment every day. Therefore, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s not easy being a twin.

You can follow Mariah Schaefer on Twitter.

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  1. If I wrote an article about being a twin, it would look exactly like this. You said everything perfectly. I felt like I was reading my own thoughts. My twin and I didn’t realize how blessed we were to have a built in best friend until we were older, and though we wanted to stay together, we realized that it was necessary to go our separate ways and split up. We are 20 now, and we lived together our first year of college and then lived down the street from each other after that. Right now she is serving a mission for our church, so I’m not able to see her or call her for 18 months, I can only email and write her letters. I searched out articles like these because I was missing being a twin. The hardest thing of separating is that I didn’t know how to be alone, I only knew how to be a twin, and suddenly I had to be a normal person. :) But I love it, and I love knowing that I still have that connection and relationship with somebody, that will never change.

    • Thank you for the sweet comment! I can relate to what you said about not knowing how to be alone and only knowing how to be a twin. You made me dread my future separation from my sister less. :)

  2. I agree with everything you said. I am also a twin. Sometimes I wonder if being a twin prepares you to become famous… Because we tend to always have to answer the same questions all the time: “So,who was born first?”, “Do you get along well?”, “Is it true all that you feel, she feels it too, despite a distance?”, “Have you ever swapped boyfriends? It is as if people think we are this magical creature, or something. But it is awesome and my twin is my best friend! I came to Dublin to do a Masters and she is back home… It was really hard, but nowadays with Facetime, Skype etc, you can still talk and be close. It´s the same, but different. You know? And, I cannot tell how much I have grown coming here and living all alone… So, you survive and define yourself better. So, don´t be afraid. It will hurt, but it is super awesome to learn how you are in the “real world” and reaffirm how unique you are. :)

    • What a lovely comment! Thank you for your insight! I’ll keep what you said in mind when it comes time for my twin and I to go our separate ways. :)

  3. my husband is a twin not identical and they are both different and alike. but i’m not sure most people see them being alike at all, most don’t even think they are brothers.

  4. her fearful symmetry is a good read for twin stuff.. same writer as time travelers wife.. but don’t bother with her other books lol….

  5. i am an identical twin as well, but my sister and i have had very different lives. it annoys me when people call us “the twins,” as if that’s the only part of our identity. we are so much more than that! our parents, though, are and have been good at letting us be individuals–going to separate high schools and then colleges was a big part of that. we’ve been able to define who we are not based on our dna, but on our interests, our goals, and our dreams. i can’t imagine life without my twin, and i’m glad i don’t have to. :)

    • How nice! When we were younger, my parents tried their best at putting us in separate classrooms, but now that we’re in high school, my sister and I have almost all of our classes together.

  6. Thanks for this thoughtful post! I have nephews that are twins and I always want to try to understand what they’re going through since it is so different from my experience with siblings. Now they are both only 5 but I can see them get a bit frustrated when people aren’t sure whether they are Sam or Evan.

  7. Thank you for this post! I am a twin as well and relate completely! To everything (even the ting babies). I remember my twin and I would always be stared at in malls and public places a lot growing up an d it took us a good couple years to realize it wasn’t because we were ugly or awkward, people are just curious, ha. My sister and I went to the same college too and became RA’s in different buildings (mini-twinvorce) and it made us stronger. Now, at 23 years old, she moved to Houston for a job while I stayed in Dallas (the BIG twinvorce). And it was such a good thing for us. We miss each other, yes,, but our relationship had grown stronger because we’ve have to make time for each other. So hang in there fellow twin! Life is an adventure and we get to cheat by having a buddy ;)

    • Thank you for your comment! My sister and I have caught many people at public places staring at us and whispering to each other that we were twins. After a while, we started getting used to it, and now whenever that happens, we just look at each other and giggle.

  8. I love this! Nicely written.