But I am a twin. My other half’s name is Tristan, he is 40 minutes older than me, and we are NOT identical (you would be surprised to know how often we get asked that though). I will never forget his birthday, given that it’s the same day as mine, and growing up we shared almost everything, from sharing a room to sharing the same interests. We were bestfriends. We were inseparable. However, as we got older things started to change. As angsty teens, we needed our own space so we no longer shared a room. As our social spheres diverged and our personalities contrasted, we no longer shared the same interests. Even with that being said, I like to think he is still my best friend, as the bond between family, especially literal “wombmates” is pretty strong, but there is a lot of distance between us nowadays, both physically and mentally. No longer in the same school, let alone the same state, I am confronted with a question I had never been faced with before: Who am I when I am not a twin?
This question may be misleading because I’m not not a twin anymore, but it’s definitely one I find myself confronted with in my brother’s absence. We both completely uprooted our lives for college. Leaving our small town called Surprise, Arizona where we went to highschool with kids we had known since kindergarten in favor of universities across the country, it’s almost as though we were granted an identity reset button. And with that reset came the fact that being “the twins” was no longer a crucial part of my identity. No one at Johns Hopkins knew my brother or ever saw him so it was no longer important for my first-day-of-class fun fact to be that I have a twin brother down the hall. For the first time in my life, I was alone. I could be recognized as an individual, not ½ of a set or “Tristan’s twin sister”. This label of “twin” was no longer a bright red flag above my head. It no longer felt like one of the key features to define me, so I was sort of terrified, being by myself for once. Luckily, it turns out, I wasn’t entirely in solitude with that experience.
Miles away from me, my brother was experiencing the same exciting but frighteningly new reality. I’m also sure every college student or recent highschool graduate experiences this feeling when they are away from home for the first time. The best way to describe such a sensation would be empowerment. Having to take care of yourself, be in charge of your own schedule, and developing self-reliance are all big steps towards independence. And as someone who never truly felt independent because of my identity as a twin, I felt so empowered knowing I was doing all these things on my own and for my own sake. Nothing felt better than to be my own person, but at the same time, it does feel a little lonely being apart from someone I spent so much time with in my youth and for the entirety of my life up until now. Every young adult feels a little homesick from time to time, but not only did I feel homesick, I also felt like a glass half-full, like half of me was missing.
That missing half, was my twin brother. Yes, it’s great to build my own identity separate from him (and to not awkwardly see him in between classes or at a party), but at the end of the day, being a twin is not something I can remove myself from, even if we are hundreds of miles apart. Because not only am I still a twin, even in his absence, but I still grew up as a twin and that is what truly shaped me into the person I am today. My constant desire for competition and comparing myself to others? It’s because I am a twin and my brother and I always tried to be better than each other. The need to treat people equally and try to include everyone? It’s because I am a twin and my mother tried to give us equal amounts of attention and love so neither of us felt left out. It would be absurd of me to attribute my whole personality to my upbringing as a twin, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit it played a huge part.
Look into your own family dynamics and you will see that they also shaped you into the person you are today. Even in psychology we notice that the youngest, middle, and oldest children often develop specific characteristics that fit into an archetype in some way or another. My archetype just so happens to be a little unique, as not everyone has the privilege of being a twin, but siblings will be siblings no matter the age. I will say it is quite the adventure, but it is an adventure I wouldn’t trade for the world. I love my twin and I love what being a twin has made my life out to be. Both my best friend and my mortal enemy, he truly is my other half, my family, and just so happens to be my fraternal twin brother. So I dedicate this blog post to Tristan: the brother whom I miss as I type this from our childhood home over 2,000 miles away from his school, missing him and all his mischief.