By Sally Campbell
What’s it like being a twin? It’s predictable that’s what. Being asked the same set of questions over and over for the last 30-odd years is beginning to bore me. While smiling sweetly and pretending I’ve never heard their question before, I dream up the answers I’d secretly like to give.
Firstly, let’s address that most obvious question. “What’s it like being a twin?”
Well, that’s a tough one. Difficult to answer because (a) I’ve never been anything else and (b) I haven’t asked all the twins in the world, I just know what it’s like to be me. Let me throw it back at you: what’s it like not being a twin? I’ve always wondered. Oddly enough, I never ask anyone, because it would make me look a bit stupid, wouldn’t it?
And then comes… “Are you identical?”
It’s fair enough that you ask this question. Unless we’re both standing there right in front of you, in which case I’d suggest that you might like to work on your powers of observation, Sherlock.
As soon as you tell them that yes, you are in fact identical, they’re itching to know: “Did your mom dress you the same as kids?”
No, she didn’t. That’s because she’s an intelligent and sensitive soul, who realized that she’d given birth to two individual human beings with their own identities, not a set of performing monkeys all cutesy-tutesy in their matching ickle outfits. (Note to any parents who do this. Start saving your money; start saving it now, because your little treasures will be in therapy sooner than you can say ‘Sigmund Freud’ and it’s only fair that you foot the bill).
They want to know about the fun side of being a twin. “Have you ever pretended to be the other one to confuse your teachers?” they ask.
No twin I know has ever done this; it only happens in the movies. Also, please see above – we were wearing different clothes – this made impersonation a bit more difficult. I’ve often pondered why people think we would have wanted to do this. At school we spent half our lives being called the wrong name. A regular blow to our self-esteem. Why then would we volunteer for more of the same by pretending to be the person whose name we definitely didn’t want to be called?
So then they go on to try and find some differences between you. They want to know who was born first?
I was. That is all.
They are dying to hear about the special connection you have with your twin, asking “Do you get ‘that twin thing’. You know – when you can read each other’s minds?”
I hate to disappoint you, because it sounds like you place great faith in the capabilities of the human mind, but it’s not actually possible for one person to read another’s thoughts. Even when those two people originated from the same egg. That’s what I keep repeating to her in my head, anyway.
Disappointed with the unexciting reply to their previous question, they ask instead “Do the two of you feel each other’s pain?”
We’ve suffered the indignity of being called the wrong name, spent our whole lives being compared with one another, been dealt the humiliation of weighing more since birth (oh ok then, that was just me) and you ask if we feel each other’s pain? What kind of cruel, sadistic creator would do that to twinkind? Of course I don’t feel her pain. I have enough of my own to deal with, thank you very much.
By this point, having struggled to find anything exciting about being a twin, they want to know “What’s your favorite thing about being a twin?” Being asked all these questions. Really, it is. As if being a twin hasn’t made me feel special enough, they think it’d be great if I could have twins myself. “I wonder if you’ll give birth to twins?”, they ponder.
It’s possible I guess, but luckily for me as an identical twin, it’s not hereditary. That means you’re just as likely to have twins as I am. Ha! Bet you wished you’d never asked, don’t you?
Finally, as they’ve not yet had the chance to meet her, they are dying to know “What’s she like? You must be pretty similar, right?”
Have you heard the one about the chalk and the cheese? Despite being brought up in exactly the same environment as me, by exactly the same parents, she developed her very own personality, tastes and interests. Amazing, huh? And that’s the most incredible thing about being a twin – knowing that I share 99.99% the same DNA as someone, but that she’s a completely different person, not me at all.
Sally Campbell is a 36-year-old identical twin from the UK. Mom to a very active one year old boy, she wonders how her own mom ever coped with two!