A tale of twins
What is it like not being an identical twin? What is it like to not have known someone since the beginning of everything? I can’t fathom it.
Being a twin is a personality trait. I am dramatic, loyal, adventurous, and a twin. Everything you do seems intrinsically linked to them. She has supported me through health challenges, shared her secrets with me, hidden a dead body for me. We fight, scream, say we hate each other, but an hour later we are best friends again. She is the one person I have been truly myself around.
As a twin, you spend a lot of time trying to carve out two distinct futures, but for us that didn’t exactly go to plan. We have the same friends, same hobbies, same values, same political alignment, we even have the same degree. Yet, even though we are so similar, we are not the same.
She is a naturally gifted writer; I prefer to kick a ball. I want to work in the human service sector, and she wants to study for the rest of her life to avoid choosing a career. When she is excited her voice goes up several thousand octaves, when I am excited, I wave my hands around like an awkward bird. She is a minute older, but I am taller (you midget). Long story short, it is possible for two people to be similar and entirely different.
Although we are identical, “something went wrong” in the creation process. Do we look like siblings? Yes. Do we look identical? No. I’ve been told by complete strangers that I am wrong about being an identical twin. I’ve had friends arrogantly argue that identical twins are exactly the same height and therefore we must be fraternal. I’ve even been told that our parents lied to us about our genetics our entire lives (cool conspiracy bro).
As children we look exactly the same, the only reason teachers could tell us apart was because we wore different coloured glasses — although I had perfect eyesight at the time. Why was I wearing glasses I didn’t need, you may ask? Because I was an annoying little shit. I was a magpie, but instead of stealing shiny objects … I stole my sister’s glasses. In my defence, they were really cool glasses.
Instead of teaching me impulse control, my parents came up with a solution to end my life of crime. They spent money on glasses I didn’t need, and lenses that didn’t work. I’ve never heard of a parent bribing their child with fake glasses, but it did the trick. My parents “weaned” me off of glasses very quickly but I was eighteen before (to my horror) I was told of this travesty. Like an idiot I had assumed my eyesight had simply improved on its own. Thanks for ruining my childhood memories mother.
Our father died when we were fifteen. My twin and I experienced grief very differently, however we stuck together through it all. We had some awkward post-death moments together, and by awkward, I mean mortifying. When put in a stressful situation we both nervously laugh. Is it nature? Is it nurture? We will never know. We laughed a lot after our father died, we laughed when the GP pronounced him dead, we laughed during a commemorative service. It wasn’t that we found any of it funny, quite the opposite. Laughing was a stress reliever, it used pent up energy, and honestly, laughing really helped.
I can always tell when she is upset, let’s call it twintuition. People ask if we are telepathic, I usually lie and say no. We can’t read each other’s minds, or help each other during tests, but we just ‘know’ things without having to ask each other. I vividly remember painfully hurting my leg as a child, only to realise my leg was perfectly fine, and my sister’s was bleeding. If that isn’t telepathy, I don’t know what is.
Right now, you may be thinking how unfortunate it is that you don’t have a twin. That you are doomed to live a life without your other half. I want to comfort you, tell you it’s okay, that your life isn’t ruined. But honestly? You’re missing out. Having a twin is amazing. Life-changing. Divine. It’s an experience you can’t fully understand unless you are one. I hit jackpot and just didn’t. Sorry.
In primary school I fell over on the playground and banged up one of my knees pretty badly. As a teacher rushed toward me, I heard the unmistakable shriek of my identical twin sister from the other side of the field. As it turned out, Annabel was unharmed, but somehow felt my pain as if it were her own. Maybe Annabel and I can’t each other’s minds (or can we?), but twin telepathy is certainly very valid.
In high school, Annabel and I were in the same science class. For two tests in a row we got the exact same grades down to the percentage point. Convinced we were cheating together, our teach put us on opposite ends of the classroom for the next test … our scores were yet again identical. That carried on for the remainder of the year, and to this day, people still ask us how we did it.
Being a twin is like winning a lottery. You get ready-made best friend, confidant, and supporter from birth. I am often asked what it is like to be a twin. It’s quite a bizarre question to me. I mean, what is it like not to have a twin? What’s it like to have a head? When I think too hard down that train of thought it makes me really sad. I mean how does the ordinary twin-less human cope with all the challenges of life without their other half? I can’t even imagine.
Our parents deliberately tried to separate us when we younger to encourage independence. In all honesty, it didn’t really work and we still share the majority of our friends, hobbies, and favourite hang-out sports. We are both left-handed, we have the same sarcastic sense of humour, and share a pretty religious (our mother says concerning) Harry Potter obsession. But, to be fair, that’s exactly how we like it.
We don’t share fashion tastes though. I mostly wear dark leggings and blouses; Annabel is addicted to plaid and men’s shirts, and she aspirations of getting her first buzz cut. So, my dreams of having two wardrobes to pick from were shattered many years ago. Neither of us wear makeup though, because fuck the patriarchy and the arbitrary beauty standards imposed on women.
When we started university together, we decided that it was time we developed independent lives. We originally started off studying different degrees, only for us to circle back around and both major in Sociology. It’s a subject we both love but for very different reasons. Annabel is passionate about critiquing patriarchal structs, and I struck a love for studying the role of religion in our daily lives, and am currently exploring the idea of Agnosticism for my Masters’ thesis.
People sometimes laugh at our similar study paths, but I always say that adding “built in study buddy” to the ever-growing list of twinny perks will always be a positive in my book. We decided that we would at least try and get some different job experiences to try and set us apart at university — only to end up working on, not one, but two summer projects together. We joke that at this point we may as well scout out identical twins to date, since we clearly can’t get away from each other no matter how hard we try.
Seriously though, I love being a twin. I am so lucky to have Annabel in my life. She has supported me through so much — hospitalisations, bulling, heartbreak, and rushed university deadlines. My life is brighter, happier, fuller, for having Annabel in it. I can’t imagine a. life without my twin. I don’t want to imagine a life without her. Losing my twin would be like losing my whole world. I’d rather never have been born at all.
The great irony of being a twin is that as we tried to pull apart at university to find out what made us individuals, we both came to the realisation that our twin-ness is what makes us fully whole, we wouldn’t be who we are without the other. I am as much a part of her, as she is a part of me. Being a twin is what makes us, well, us.
I don’t know how our lives will turn out, what challenges or triumphs we will face, what journeys we will take. But the one thing I know for sure is, we’ll be seeing double for many years to come, and for that I am endlessly grateful.
By Annabel and Eleanor Hurton