What’s it like to be a twin? Are you identical? Who’s the oldest? Are you telepathic? Do you pretend to be each other? Were you dressed the same as children? How do people tell you apart?
Thing is, it wasn’t until the age of 30 that Lucy and I had to re-evaluate our bored answers.
For our 30th birthday my husband bought us a zygosity test. There had always been disagreement between our parents to whether we were definitely non-identical and this test could confirm to us that our Mum was right and we were, indeed, the non-identical twins we always thought we were.
The test was simple – we got our Mum in on the act and thought it was only right that she sent off the samples. She took a swab sample from each of our mouths and put it into the pre-paid envelope. It was as easy as that!
When we got the results back we were a bit surprised to find that we were monozygotic (identical), with a confidence level of 1 in 5091919. The probability of us being identical was 99.99998036%. The results came through the post with a note from Mum ‘Wow, thanks for arranging this – essential (if unexpected) information’. It felt a pretty momentous moment without actually really changing anything at all. I immediately felt guilty for the hundreds of times I’d previously answered the ‘Are you identical?’ question with a no.
It’s not until now that I’ve actually cared about the answers to the twin questions. I have no idea what it is like to not be a twin. I have had a lifetime of sharing birthdays, friends, bedrooms, toys and of being compared to my sister every minute. But being a twin is far more complicated than anyone can ever imagine. The main issue is not with having to share absolutely everything, but with the struggle of working out who you are. As children we never pretended to be each other – why would you want to, when most people get you mixed up anyway? What would be the point? What we really wanted is for people to be able to tell us apart, not refer to us as ‘the twins’ but actually put a bit of effort in to see that we were separate people.
Sharing every moment of your childhood with someone else who looks like you is intense, brilliant and amazing but it can exclude and alienate others. Moving into adulthood is hard. We had been partners in crime our entire lives but also knew we wanted relationships and families of our own one day. How is that going to happen if there is no space for anyone else in your relationship? The hardest thing about being a twin has been letting go of Lucy to make a gap for someone else to come in.
Now we no longer do everything together. We go to different places, have different jobs, friends, relationships and experiences. Now we are adults we rarely get the opportunity to answer the usual twin questions. We live 80 miles apart and have different friends and families of our own.
It has been such a positive step to finally work together on ‘Beb & Ooo’ with our mutual love of colour, prints and retro styling. We generally agree on most things and it is really lovely to be sharing something together again. If you bump into us at a fair or show, then please come and ask us lots of questions about being twins.