Last week, I interviewed Kayla and Rebecca, a set of 19-year-old fraternal twins. Their responses to my questions about their early school years were both insightful and inspirational. This week, the questions continue only this time we focus on the evolution of these young women’s relationship and how it has changed over the course of nearly two decades. Below are their edited responses. Join with me in thanking these two remarkable young women for being so honest by leaving them a comment below.
Q: What’s the best part of being a twin?
Rebecca: It means a lot to me. I know that’s a really bad answer but it’s not something I can just explain. If I didn’t have her by my side while growing up, I don’t know who I would be. She’s my best friend and my right side. How could I contemplate not having something that I’ve had since the first moment of life?
Kayla: I think having Rebecca in my life has made me who I am today, and that’s the best part. I’m happy about who I am and the direction I am taking in my life, and I know I wouldn’t have made the same choices had I grown up in a different situation.
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of being a twin?
Rebecca: I guess the most challenging part has been publicly defining myself. In our home, there was never anything different about us. Our families knew that we are two very different people so we didn’t have to strive for our identities as much. Publicly, however, people are more adamant about grouping us together as the same person.
It wasn’t really frustrating when the other kids got us mixed up unless we were really good friends and they just didn’t care to actually learn our names. Even now, I’ll have people come up to me, thinking I’m Kayla and I’ll carry on a conversation with this stranger until the end and I’ll say something like, “I’m really sorry, but you probably think my name is Kayla, but I’m her twin sister Rebecca.” But I don’t do this to be funny, it’s more to be polite.
Kayla: The most challenging part of twinship is asserting myself as an individual. At first other kids flocked to us because we were “so cool” for having each other. We didn’t need to go out and seek friends because they came to us. Then as we got older, Becca branched out and I hung back. Instead of trying to make friends, I decided to read a lot. In high school, other students assumed that if they knew Becca, they knew me. Often times they were surprised to learn differently.
Since childhood, I have also struggled with using singular tense in my speech and writing. (In case you haven’t already noticed.) I have gotten better when I talk about things that just involve me, but as soon as Rebecca becomes involved, it’s difficult for me to use a singular form. It feels like a half truth to me when I say “MY mom” or “when I was a kid” because it’s OUR mom and OUR past. I wasn’t alone.
Now, being in college, the most challenging part is maintaining our relationship. It never required effort before, and now we are learning how to work our new relationship parameters.
Q: How would you describe your relationship now? How has it evolved and changed over the years?
Rebecca: Now, we’re pretty close, I think. I mean, I am very optimistic so I tend not to dwell on the bad stuff for very long. Right now, (this is top-secret) we are planning a surprise wedding reception for my parents who were married six years ago and never got to have one. So working together on something while we’re so far away from each other is pretty cool.
But the relationship has definitely changed. Now that we’re adults we can’t always just call each other and expect to talk for countless hours on end, but at the same time our relationship is more mature because we can respect each other’s differences and understand them more. Also, now that we’re older, we understand what it means for Kayla to be an introvert and me an extrovert. That’s the best way to put it. So it’s not so much of WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LIKE WHAT I LIKE?! It’s more like, cool, maybe we can find something to do that we both enjoy.
Kayla: I would say our relationship is interesting, to say the least. When making our college decisions, it was clear to both of us that we wouldn’t be going together. (Have you tried making your kids decide on ONE flavor birthday cake? Yeah, not happening.) Now [that we’re in separate colleges], it’s not uncommon for us to call each other between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. just to visit. But we struggle to maintain a relationship by texting or phone calls. It’s hard for us to read each others moods and often misinterpret each other that way. When we are both home at the same time, we make time for a “big cookie date,” usually just the two of us.
Recently, I have been struggling to come to turns with her joining a sorority. I have felt replaced and unimportant. But I have realized that I do have a big role in her life, and moving away will obviously leave a void in her life. I choose to take it as a complement on my importance to her because she does feel the need to replace me, and I take comfort knowing that she does have sisters there for her when she needs them. I am choosing to trust them with the responsibilities of sisterhood.
For our 18th birthday we each got tattoos on our arms that say “Jumelle” which is the female French word for twin. Mine is on my left arm and hers is on her right. I’m right-handed and she is a lefty. When we were young we would hold hands with our weakest ones together, so our tattoos represent that bond, especially now that we aren’t together.