This popped up on my Timehop; my brain seemed to view this as an ideal time to splurge. So here goes!
6 years ago, I said ‘goodbye’ to Laura for an unspecified period of time as we ventured off to different universities, in separate cities – her in Lincoln, me in Canterbury. And, in all honest, it was not until this point I questioned my existence as a twin. To me, we were sisters who looked alike; to others, we were a unity of two identical beings, ‘the twins’.
Note: we’d never spent more than a week apart the before, when I participated in an exchange with an Italian student, aged 17. (Shoutout to my wonderful Italian teacher at college, exchange partner and her family, and other students for putting up with my ‘Laura-sickness’.) Other than that, we’d had the odd sleepover here and there. So the prospect of three-ish months apart was horrifying and a complete shock to my system.
For us, I guess, moving to separate universities was a pivotal point in our life; we started on our own journeys of self-discovery to forge our own identity; to discover our unique personalities – which I can assure you, in the majority of cases, is vastly different from their genetic counterpart! Laura and I are like chalk and cheese – just ask our brother!
Since a very young age, upon meeting new people, we were always asked the same questions:
- ‘So, who’s older?’ – bane of my life as the younger twin, as Laura would often proudly respond she was 17 minutes older than me! *ooooooh, inferiority complex*
- ‘Who’s taller?’ – again, Laura is marginally taller… (as in a ¼ of an inch taller!)
- ‘Can you feel each others pain?’
- ‘Are to telepathic?’
To name but a few…
Society as a whole seems fascinated with twins, identical twins in particular. Sure, we’ve had some interesting encounters in supermarkets, passing young children who had clearly never seen identical twin before. Mouths gaping and eyes bulging. We may look alike – though we would always vehemently argue the contrary – but we are not the same.
News flash: many, if not all, stereotypes surrounding identical twins, are false. The worst part has to be people believing you are the same person.
In primary school, for example, we had to wear different colour earrings, to help teachers tell who was who… When that didn’t work, we had our initials sewn on our uniforms. Fun times. Instead of people getting to know us as individuals, through our unique idiosyncrasies, people relied predominantly on ‘prompts’ to distinguish us. We were dressed the same, treated the same, and rarely, if ever, had time away from each other. Ironic, really, given that the easiest way to tell us apart was, and still is, to get to know us! It’s no surprise, then, that the constant confusion of others towards us during our developmental years rendered it harder for us to see ourselves – indeed develop and thrive – as, wait for it, individuals.
Sure, twins wearing matching clothes is cute or whatever, but no.
Fast forward to the age of 18, how would you discover your ‘true’ identity? I can tell you from personal experience, it’s not easy; finding the ‘I’ when you’ve always referred to yourself as ‘we’, and moving from away from your twin identity is not easy. Being a twin was my existence; I had to muddle my way from being a unity to a ‘singleton’.
6 years later, we’ve both grown in ways that once seemed unimaginable. Laura studied Mental Health Nursing, while I studied Modern Languages. She’s now married, lives on a farm and has a beautiful baby girl; I graduated this year and finally have a place to call ‘home’ *, a concept I always struggled to picture without Laura within close vicinity. (Growing up, we used to always say we would buy houses next to each other, demolish the garden wall and build a conservatory spanning both gardens so we could visit each other whenever!)
Yes, we are twins. Yes, we are a unit. Yes, I suppose we look alike. But that’s pretty much where the similarities end!
I cannot stress this enough: identical does not mean the same!!!
Although we live 126 miles apart, and have done for the past 3 or so years, there’s no denying the bond between twins is something unique. After all, ‘in this life we will never be truly apart, for we grew to the same beat of our mother’s heart.’
*Military child problems. It’s only now, at 24, I feel as though I have a place to call home!