By Austin Cowan
Blog Content Contributor
As an identical twin, I have grown up always having a best friend around to play sports with, study for school with and occasionally argue with as siblings do. Life as a twin is great. However, it also comes with some annoyances when other people insert twin stereotypes: do you feel each other’s pain, share each others clothes or which twin is _____ (fill in the blank.) This blog post will dive into how some elements of a twins life change when all of a sudden they can not find their other pea in the pod.
Life Without Labels
Growing up as a twin, Nathaniel and I were always labeled as “the twins.” Which made complete sense because we were the only twins within our friend group. We also were always together. The hours we spent together in the same room and breathing in the same air are countless and only sometimes against our will. Nathaniel and I always had the twin element of our lives pointed out to us growing up until we went to different colleges.
I will never forget my freshman orientation at Texas State. I was sitting on the Texas State student rec center’s floor, listening to an orientation leader blabber on about stuff, when he called a girl from the audience to come up on stage. She had been on her phone during the speech and as punishment she had to dance in front of the crowd. This was a ritual all the freshman who ignored speeches at orientation had to do. What made this girl unique was that she had a twin sister. Because they were twins, the sister/twin of the girl who was caught on her phone had to dance as well. From that moment on these girls were labeled as the twins for the rest of orientation which was the first time in my life that label had not applied to me. This was a memorable moment of my life because it was a time where I was able to escape all the false ideologies pressed upon me by other people. Being labeled as a twin never bothered me but it became extremely annoying after a while. In the same way that tall people have their height pointed out many relentlessly. Fortunately for a twin they get to escape this label when surrounded by people who do not know them. (Sorry, tall people, You do not get this luxury) Nevertheless, many twins in the world struggle with their individuality. Leading them to participate in activities which may prove to be harmful or misrepresent their character. The reason why labeling is bad is because it causes people to gain false misconceptions about themselves sometimes leading to toxic self-fulfilling prophecies.
Next time you find yourself surrounded by a some twins do everyone a favor and stop labeling them. This will happen subconsciously but be mindful of your words. Words can carve deeper than the sharpest sword, so be careful. Messing with people’s emotions and minds which can seriously mess them up in the long run.
People Know My Name
This one may sound a little funny to some people, but it oftentimes present in identical twins lives. Identical twins have the same genetic makeup causing them to look “the same.” It is a well know fact that telling the difference between identical twins can be extremely hard. As an identical twin I can recognize the face of a person confused about what they should call me from a mile away. (Sidenote: If you do not know someone’s name do not stare at them with a confused face, the twin already knows that you do not know which twin they are.) Unfortunately, for me, some people in grade school would give up on trying to tell the difference between my brother and I and quit trying. Never do this to a set of twins. Calling a person by their name helps them feel connected to society. For a twin not having their name go unused by another person can create a feeling of unworth within them, because not bothering to learn their name is proof that people frankly do not care to learn what it is. So give twins the emotional support they need as human beings by calling them out by name. When people are referred to by name it allows them to know that another human being is thinking of them and only them at that moment. That one moment can allow a twin to feel like the individual they are because someone thought of them and only them at that moment.
Lonely At Times
Many twins go into college/adult life believing life without their twin will be nice because people will no longer link their name up with their twins. I know this is true because I am a twin going to college without my brother. However, it is lonely at times. Like other sets of twins out their my womb mate is my best friend and I do miss having him around sometimes. (Don’t tell him that though) However, we have found ways to actually overcome this loneliness while hundreds of miles apart. For all the twins out there, or people missing their families, here is some helpful hints to keep in touch with the people you enjoy being around. First, make an effort to facetime each other. My twin brother and I often times facetime while studying at our apartments, cooking in the kitchen or whatever. Second, start a group chat through texting, GroupMe, Facebook Messenger, whatever. So, each of you can still contact each other frequently if finding time to talk on the phone or facetime proves to be too difficult. Lastly, go visit each others time-to-time. Face-to-face encounters are by far the most intimate method of communication with other people. When possible make a road trip to the other person’s place and hang out for the weekend. Families stick together so make it a priority to keep up constant contact with each other. “As iron sharpens iron one man sharpens another”- Proverbs 27:17
Life for twins without the other pea in the pod is definitely not the same as constantly being smothered by them. Twins are able to assert their individuality, people know their names and life will be lonelier for them. However, no matter how far apart a set of twins may be from each other they will always be connected to each other.
Other Twins Viewpoints On This Topic
“For me, being fraternal boy/girl twins we aren’t as close as identical twins, but we are definitely still close! We were always separated in school but still saw each other, so I guess our first time to be separated for a long period of time was when we left for college. Being separated from him has made us both able to identify as just ourselves at school, rather than “the twins.” In high school everyone would ask, “Who’s older? Who’s smarter? Who’s better at sports? Who’s the funny one? Who’s the outgoing one?” So being separated from him for a long time allowed us both to realize we could be all those things and more; there weren’t people to separate us as “the shy twin/the outgoing twin” anymore. That’s let us grow into who we really are and also who we want to be. So, I think it’s been beneficial for us to be separated, but I of course miss him and my other brother all the time!”- Josie Rasberry
“It’s weird to think how differently your reputation is among people and how they perceive you based only upon how you treat to them. It is great to be able to have your own identity but it is a perception change to lose the former.”- Nathaniel Cowan
“My twin and I have always been fairly independent, so it’s hard to say our separation has had any stark effect on my life and the way I live it. However, you can definitely see it when you start to pull things apart. Perhaps the most interesting change is identification. I went from “The Twin” and “Trinity’s Twin,” to just “Victoria.” I’m no longer identified in relation with her, instead, people are shocked to find out I have a twin at all. It’s interesting because I still carry her around everywhere I go. Though she isn’t my identity, she’s very much a part of it. I would say I’m also a bit more intentional. When you’re with someone all day every day, you don’t have to try hard to know them or keep up with them. When you’re separated, you have to be intentional with calling to catch up or take special opportunities to see each other. But somehow, even though we see each other so much less, the relationship is so much sweeter. It just goes to show when you are intentional (even if you have to be), relationships are better. They’re deeper. That affects my other relationships because I have a special perspective on how important intentionality is.”- Victoria Rinear
At first, going to different schools was really exciting because it was the first opportunity for both of us to kind of create or own identities separate from each other. Before, we were always “the twins” but now, we’re separated and not everyone even knows we have a twin. Toria and I were always close but our first year of college was a good chance to be off on our own. That was hard for me at times because I don’t usually like going new places on my own or talking to new people by myself, but moving somewhere where 1) I didn’t have my twin to tag along everywhere and make everything more familiar and comfortable and 2) I knew literally no one, really helped me to be more confident in myself and my own social abilities. The first year we didn’t keep in touch all the time like we do now, we really just focused on our own things and caught up when I was home for break. Now, we miss each other like crazy. Of course, were fine being on our own but we are closer now than we have ever been and the 160 miles between us is sometimes saddening. But we’re able to call a lot and text whenever we want so it’s okay. I think that not living together and having some time apart has actually improved our relationship and I know it’s allowed me to grow as a person. We often say now that we don’t want to ever live too far away from each other so as not to be able to visit if we really wanted to, but who knows what could happen.” – Trinity Rinear
Here Are Some Links to Open Letters Written By Twins About This Topic
- Open Letter to My Twin- Number One
- Open Letter to My Twin- Number Two
- Open Letter to My Twin- Number Three
Photos courtesy of Austin Cowan.