Identity,  Individuality,  Twin Life

A Twin Tell-All: How I Came to Embrace My Individuality

If I had to choose, I’d say the best part about being a twin is that it is an automatic fun fact to use during a dreaded icebreaker, saving me from having to dive into the depths of my soul to find something that is worthwhile to share. My favorite food is a sandwich? Boring. Pink is my favorite color? Duh, just look at everything I own. I shared the womb for nine months? Bingo.

Since arriving at college and embarking on my first journey without my twin sister, Allie, by my side, being a twin has been my go-to fun fact because it isn’t something anyone would know about me now that we aren’t constantly side by side. Although she is only 10 minutes away at Grand View University, being at separate colleges is the first time in our lives that we have ever been seen as individuals. Growing up in a small town as twins, it was hard not to feel like everything was a competition and that everyone who passed was constantly comparing the two of us—who’s faster (her), who’s smarter (me) or who could beat who in a fight (my lack of muscle mass is a clear indication). Especially because we participated in all of the same sports, were in all of the same classes and had all of the same friends, it was difficult to form an identity that felt separate outside of my identity as half of a whole.

Jealous Much?

My middle school years in particular brought out the green beast in me as it became quite evident that she was the more athletically gifted of the two of us. While she beat every boy in P.E. by completing 24 pull-ups, I dangled and writhed uncomfortably on the bar, unable to muster even one. While she starred on the A-team in basketball, I watched from the bench until my debut on the B-team came around. Even if I happened to beat her in a simple game of air hockey—which arguably requires no athletic skill—it somehow turned into a competition of who beat who more often. Hint: it was never me.

However, middle school me had a revelation. While I wasted my time being jealous of her success in sports, she wasted her time being jealous of my success in school. Tests and homework had always come easier for me, but I never realized that she felt the same way about me as I felt about her: a little resentful. Thankfully, once we both discovered our mutual jealousy, we made the decision to have our own things and be our own people. She became the self-proclaimed athletic twin, and I enjoyed my newfound role as smart twin. Soon, we were both A students in school and active participants on sports teams all throughout high school, but, most importantly, we no longer worried about competing because we knew where our individual strengths lied.

Better Together

Now, she is a super cool stud on Grand View’s track and cross country teams, whereas I feel no shame (OK, maybe a little) in admitting that walking up a flight of stairs is often the most strenuous part of my day. She has developed some serious muscles since branching out on her own as a college athlete, and I am proud of the athlete, student and person she is today. I have to admit, it feels a lot better to celebrate each other’s successes than to quietly resent each other, and it has been a great experience to develop individual identities at our own schools while still having the luxury of being close by. She is my go-to coffee shop partner, movie-going companion and, ultimately, my best friend. In fact, we’re even moving in together for senior year, something we have been looking forward to since freshman year.

Being a twin is a proud part of my identity today, but it has also helped to shape me as an individual who, yes, loves sandwiches and wears a lot of pink. Any jealousy I felt has long since subsided. In fact, while she expels sweat, blood and tears each day as an athlete, I am more than happy to sit comfortably on my couch, only lifting the occasional finger to turn a page.

For an inside look at how I felt about being separated from Allie for the first time as college approached, read my article on FreshU.

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