What nobody tells you about being a twin

Whenever I tell people I’m a twin, I usually get asked two questions: “Do you look alike?” and, “Do you have the same thoughts?”. I start off by saying, “No, we don’t. We’re actually fraternal” and, “There actually have been times where my twin and I thought the same things, and even said them at the same time.”

The fact that I have a twin sister always fascinated people, even more so since we don’t even look related at times, and have polar opposite personalities and career paths. Genetically, my twin and I share some of the same DNA, but what many people may not know is that lifestyle and personality-wise, we couldn’t be more different.

Growing up as a twin, my mother did what almost every mother of twins does—dressing us up in cute, matching outfits so we’re mirror images of each other. I remember us wearing the same sunflower printed dress and bowl haircut (it was the early ‘90s!) in the second grade. From an early age, my sister and I set ourselves apart by developing our own personalities—she was the sociable extrovert while I was the contemplative introvert. Being an introvert as a child was not easy and often left our friends and family members comparing us, so much so that I tried to be more like my sister. I signed up for the same advanced classes in high school as she did and hung out more with her and her group of friends. It wasn’t until I realized that I wasn’t so great at physics honors (while she was) and that I really excelled at English and the creative arts to truly set myself apart and chose a college education and career path that worked for me.

Being three minutes older than I was, my sister was considered to be the “older one,” and even took the responsibility of tutoring my younger brother. She also had the expectations of using her smarts and pursued a career in the medical field. I on the other hand, was more of a free and mysterious bird, doing things at my own pace and marching to the beat of my own drum. Going into college, I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to be after I graduated.

It wasn’t until college where we truly set ourselves apart and developed our own identities that make us who we are today. I went out-of-state to New York City to study design and business at Parsons while she stayed in-state and studied science at UCLA. Our time apart in college (and being literally on the opposite ends of the country from each other) allowed us to finally have a life of our own. We were finally not being referred to as “so-and-so’s sister” or “the twins.”

My sister and I were each able to explore, figure out, and define our own values the more time we spent apart. She developed more of a traditional and stable lifestyle that’s a perfect fit for her, while I (surprising especially since I’m more of an introvert) developed a more carefree sense of lifestyle and took risks when it came to career choices and even dating. We each built our own set of guidelines for navigating life and as different as they are, they work out for each of us.

Looking back on our times together and apart, I couldn’t imagine not having a twin sister. I truly don’t know any other woman who’s as incredibly smart, caring, and ambitious as she is. In addition to my brother, she’s the one person that I go to get solid advice from, and send random text messages to at all hours. Although we’re different as night and day, the relationship we have with each other and the bond we’ve built together for the past 27 years is something we both cherish.

[Image of the author (left) and her twin sister (right) courtesy the author]

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