For the last 18 years, having a fraternal twin sister has been such a huge part of my identity. Everywhere I go, she has been right beside me: at school, during sports, with our friends and just down the hall from me in our house. I have had so many people over the years tell me that they wish they could have a twin, and I don’t blame them. Going through the same stages of life together at the same time creates a special bond that I wouldn’t change for anything. 

However, I would be lying to say it has all been a piece of cake. It is hard not to be competitive with someone when so much is the same about you, especially when being a twin automatically groups you with him/her. It feels like everyone is always comparing the two of us and judging us for being different than each other. When you think about it, if there are two of something, you always compare them to see which you like better, and you almost always choose one of them. For me, that used to be what being a twin felt like. Yes, I loved always having someone by my side, but I couldn’t help but think that one of us was always being chosen, whether it was as the pretty one, the smart one, the funny one, the athletic one, the nice one or whatever else. Now that we are both heading off to our different colleges in a few weeks, her to Grand View in Des Moines, Iowa, and me to Drake University, also in Des Moines, I am proud to say that we have both overcome our jealousy issues and have grown to love our differences.

During our elementary school years, it was already apparent that we enjoyed different things. She would always be outside doing some kind of activity, like riding her skateboard or playing a game with my younger sister. I preferred to stick to more girly activities, like playing Barbies or doll house, also with my younger sister. We played outside together sometimes, but I could never master the skateboard, and I always got mad when she played doll house with us because I didn’t want her to ruin the fictional lives we had created for our dolls. Meanwhile, we had all of the same friends and did all of the same recreation league sports, almost always dressed in matching outfits of different colors. It wasn’t until middle school when the jealousy got really bad for me. She was an insanely talented athlete, even back then, and I was just average. Back then, that seemed like such an unfair thing to me that she got so much attention for her success in sports.

Thankfully, it wasn’t very long before I realized that she had always been jealous of me for doing better in school, and we decided that maybe sports were more her thing and school was more my thing. Once we came to this realization, I learned to be proud of her for all of her amazing athletic accomplishments, and I am proud to say I was definitely her biggest fan throughout all of high school. Likewise, she was always proud of my grades. I wouldn’t want for both of us to be exactly the same in our abilities because what fun would that be? I love being the smart twin, and I love watching her success as the athletic twin. As for who is the pretty one, funny one or nice one, I think we have both come to our own conclusions about that.

Now, for the first time in my life, she won’t be right by my side. Instead of just down the hall from me, she will be 10 minutes away from me in a completely different college (it just kind of worked out that we both chose Des Moines schools). While I’m meeting new people and making new friends, she will be meeting different people and also making new friends, and none of them will know such an important part of our identities. I don’t define myself solely as being a twin, but I never would be the person I am today without her and without both of us having realized what it is that makes both of us unique. I wonder how many times I will be getting to know people and will have to tell them “I am a twin” when they ask me something interesting about myself. Instead of a known fact by all of our common friends and acquaintances, it will now be a fun fact that I bring up to new friends and acquaintances. For me, that will definitely be one of the hardest parts about not always being around her anymore. Ten minutes doesn’t seem like a lot, but compared to ten seconds away in our house, it will take some getting used to.

Being a twin has been one of the most defining things in my life because of how it made me realize all of the things that are special about me individually. It is a bond unlike any other, and one that I love and appreciate so much. Although not everyone I meet in the future is going to know that I am a twin, I will always know it, and I can’t wait to see what kind of lives we both create for ourselves. 

Lead Image Credit: Ashley Flaws