Recently I met a new friend. He thinks me and my identical twin sister are the same person. I can tell that most of what he says is made in jest, but it got me thinking about how people view twins. They see us as copies of one another with nothing separate to offer. I’ve often heard, “If you know one, you know both”. But that is far from true. Both my sister and I, as well as every set of twins I’ve met, has been different.
My sister has never won a spelling bee, or a science fair. I’ve never sang a song I wrote in front of a room full of people. I’ve never been asked to Homecoming with the whole school watching and she’s never dislocated her kneecap at a high school football game. We may be identical, but we are far from the same.
It’s a long list, the things we don’t have in common. We played different instruments in school, her oboe and me trombone. Her favorite color growing up was pink and mine was yellow. But the real difference, what makes us individuals, is in the way we view the world. She is a realist, I’m a dreamer. She’s believes in the practical, I’d rather cast it aside and figure it out as I go. She has never felt the overwhelming need to take a picture of her friends as they laugh at some small thing, I’ve never been without that need. She walks around the house singing at all hours, I can’t hold a tune and reserve singing for the shower. Our differences lie in the tiny things we do every day without even thinking of them. They are the things our friends make fun of us for, and our parents constantly complain about.
We may be identical twins, but we have completely different perspectives to offer the world. We have vastly differing hopes, and we dream in vivid colors that don’t match. Two people are not as simple as their physical appearance. Just as we are told not to judge a book by its cover, and to see every one we meet as a special person with something unique to offer, twins go deeper than matching faces.
I know most people don’t think twice about this. They see twins and see two of the same person. Or they make a game out of learning how to tell twins apart. I’ve often had new friends take turns guessing which twin I was, and they get excited when they finally get it right on the first try. I’ve also had people see that we’re identical and never go beyond that. They assume everything about us is a copy of the other. Even though we speak differently, both the sound of voices, and the words we choose to use. We say pecan differently, and differ on food in almost every other aspect too. She loves mushrooms and black olives, while I hate them. She doesn’t eat spinach but I’ll eat a bowl in under a minute.
It’s these seemingly unimportant things that make us who we are, just like they do with every other person on the planet. So as an identical twin, I beg you the reader to see twins less as an oddity and to instead see us for the individuals we are. We are identical, but we are also individual.