Growing Up With A Twin
Many have theories about having a doppelgänger somewhere in the world, but for me, I never had to think about that because I already had mine living with me.
Growing up with a twin sister who was a mere 10 minutes older had its pros – I never had to be alone or do scary things by myself.
After watching the popular Disney Channel twin-based show, Liv and Maddie as a child, I felt that a good term to describe us was a “built-in best friend”. My sister was like my diary – I told her everything and trusted her completely.
But when I got older, I would hear my friends taking on daring feats, such as travelling overseas with their friends, or even basic things like ordering food for themselves from a hawker centre. As a fellow pod in our sisterhood pea growing up, this seemed daunting to me – I had never even eaten alone before.
Eventually, after the both of us started entering our teenage years, I realised that things were changing and I had to start being self-reliant. Now in my final year of my teens, I’ve learnt to be more independent and to see myself as an individual. Here’s a glimpse of what it’s like to be a twin and how it felt when we had to inevitably be separated.
Seeing double: my sister and I when we were 8 and 19 now, respectively
Growing up, I always loved the fact that I had someone who looked so similar to me and understood me instantly without having to speak a word. There were times when we would unknowingly blurt out the same thing, which constantly brought on a string of questions from friends and relatives such as the classic “do you have telepathy?” and “can you feel what she’s feeling now?”
People had trouble differentiating us, especially if they weren’t close to us. There was once when we accidentally switched our school pinafores with our names stitched on it, and most didn’t suspect anything. Everyone assumed we always knew where the other was, and that we shared everything we owned.
Consequently this made me dependent on my sister as I thought she would stick with me for the rest of our lives – which in turn, took a toll on my social habits.
My sister and I stuck together even in school
See, when you’re a twin, you tend to think that you don’t need other people when you have each other to rely on. Making friends proved to be difficult, as we were cautious of who we let into our lives.
I often referred to myself as “we”, “us”, and “our” because it felt like my sister and I were one person, with no original thoughts of our own.
My sister and I with our best friend since Primary One
Even at home, my relatives and parents would refer to the both of us as “twinnies”. We were rarely addressed individually, and would respond quicker to the nickname. Up to now, there are still moments when my parents would confuse us by accident.
As my sister and I got older, my parents started to worry about our attachment to each other, and were concerned that we weren’t being social enough.
In Primary One, I had finally made my first friend – who eventually became our best friend instead. The three of us became a trio, which was one of the first times my sister and I opened our close-knit relationship to someone else.
Then, in Primary Five, my sister and I were placed in different classes for the first time. Imagine the shock I felt. I even jumped to conclusions thinking – “That’s it, now we’ll never be doing things together again.”
My poly friends and I at a staycation together
Despite being separated in primary and secondary school classes, my sister and I were still as thick as thieves because we still went home and did activities such as homework, and going to tuition classes together.
But if I could pinpoint an exact moment when things started changing for real, it would be the moment my sister and I received our tertiary institution postings. My sister went to study business in a polytechnic while I went to another polytechnic to study communications – which, as you can imagine, are two totally different fields altogether.
Adapting to our new environments meant that we started getting our own different groups of friends and schedules, so we didn’t have as much time to see each other as often. This was the start of how our sisterhood saw cracks form, for the very first time in our intertwined lives.
Growing apart from each other
My sister and I texting after a fight, with our texts being more of a “petty playfight”.
With our different social paths forging, there were times when we would barely see each other during the holidays or exam weeks.
My sister even ventured for overseas trips and cafe-hop activities without me, and my feelings of shock quickly turned to sadness and betrayal.
There were times when I only found out where my sister was from her friends’ IG stories. We barely had our usual late-night conversations anymore, which soon created a rift between us. In hindsight, nobody was to blame, but I couldn’t help but point the finger at her.
In turn, we started keeping certain things private from each other, which drastically affected our honesty. Our deteriorating trust resulted in many fights, and thanks to our stubborn nature, a cold war ensued.
While I maintained a “heck care” disposition in front of her, I was devastated. Teenage years are filled with milestones, and the one person I wanted to update about them now wasn’t speaking with me. It didn’t take long for me to come to the realisation that I was indeed too reliant on my sister.
Learning to become more self-reliant & independent
In the hopes of getting my parents to sympathise with me, I would complain to them about my sister’s growing distance. After listening to my rants, my mum sat me down to remind me that we are ultimately our own individual persons and I had to learn to become more independent. Thoughts like “but who am I?” swarmed my mind. An existential crisis at 18 years old? Not a good look, ya’ll.
Forcing myself out of my comfort zone by going to a fancafe and eating by myself
You could say that being in an outspoken media course helped — I was slowly learning the importance of self-expression and taking risks, which pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to become my own person.
I joined handball as a CCA to push myself further – something I would never dream of taking on without my sister by my side. I was also introduced to fancafes by my friends to support my favourite K-pop idols, and there were some I wanted to go to when my friends had no time. On a whim, I decided to go to one by myself.
Initially, I was terrified. I wondered how my sister managed to go cafe-hopping by herself, or even enjoy her alone time. I was so self-conscious about the way I ate, or looked. However, at the end of it, I realised it took practice, and was also a way to help me become more comfortable in my own skin.
In a society where mental health is prioritised more than ever, I can safely say I finally understand why there are so many videos on YouTube about self-care and alone time — it’s healing and is truly a time to wind down and reflect.
Accepting each other’s choices & decisions
My sister and I at a birthday party with our secondary school clique
However, despite embracing independence and my alone time, my relationship with my sister still wasn’t a bed of roses.
After almost a month of not speaking to each other, our secondary school friends unknowingly came to the rescue and asked us to attend a birthday party together. During the first part of the party, my sister and I chatted with our own friends and refused to even make eye contact. I used to think having an evil twin was only the stuff of horror movies, but here I was witnessing it IRL.
Jokes aside, I was relieved when she started to make an effort to talk to me, and be involved in our conversations. I took this as a white flag, and started to open up more to her again.
Once we got home, I apologised. I felt touched by how she had acted during the party, and I tried to put myself in her shoes to understand her better. We agreed that as we were getting older, we had different priorities in life, such as our careers and friend groups. Ultimately, we came to the conclusion that we didn’t have to tell each other everything, and there were things that we both wanted to keep private.
Thinking back on this, I realised it was a good call — I had also realised some friends were scared of telling me things in fear that I would tell my sister.
Growing up sometimes does mean growing apart, especially for the both of us. Despite the both of us going in different directions, it doesn’t mean that we have to be separated indefinitely. If anything, this only reignited our sisterly bond and strengthened our relationship.
We attended a concert together recently, and this showed our different styles now after wearing the exact same thing as kids
A few months ago, my sister and I went to a concert together. Even though we have our differences, we can’t help but deny our similarities to each other – such as music.
When I looked back on the concert pictures, I realised that even though our faces resemble each other closely, our unique personalities shone through our different styles. It was a bittersweet epiphany, and I finally made peace with the definition of our sisterhood with each other.
Now, in my final year of poly, there are things that haven’t changed for us – our sense of humour, inside jokes, the way we talk, our ENFJ personalities, and our love languages. However, we know that there are boundaries that we can’t cross. Our bond as sisters keeps us close, even if we don’t always have a lot of the same interests or experiences.
I know that as soon as I graduate, things will change even more and life will take us on very different paths – which also reminds me that I have to treasure the time we have together before we move on to relationships and university.
Learning Independence Away From My Twin Sister
For the majority of my life, I’ve always had an identity crisis and never thought of myself as an individual. With the occasional mix-ups from friends and family, I’ve simply embraced always being one or the other.
However, growing apart from my sister changed that and made me realise I can do fine by myself. Despite having my independence shaped a little later than others, I don’t regret having a mirror image that I can also call my bestie.
I now realise that this “separation” would come eventually, and I’d rather it be sooner than later. Being close to my sister was, and is, a privilege and is rare to have.
Now that I’ve grown into myself, it’s been liberating to do things just for me. It’s given me more opportunities to think about self-care, and to rely on myself, in terms of focusing on my own goals and dreams, and not to be concerned about issues I can’t control.
Ultimately, the life we’re living is ours to embrace. Whether you’re an only child or have multiple siblings, what’s important is being self-reliant and knowing who you are as a person. The freedom we have as an individual allows us to make choices that shape us, and have experiences that give us fulfilling moments.