May 15, 2015

What It’s like to be a Twin.


I’ve always gotten some interesting reactions—and questions asked of me—when people discover that I am a twin.

One of the most frequent and hardest to answer is this old chestnut: “What’s it like being a twin?”

I’ve always thought of it as a bit of a ridiculous question to ask. It’s like asking a teabag, “what’s it like being a teabag?”

I never quite knew what I was expected to say; how can you sum it up in just a few short words?

Well, I’ve come to find that you can’t—it’s impossible. I would always just say: “It’s grand.”


I’ve always been more at ease when expressing myself through writing—rather than speaking—so I thought I’d try to describe it once and for all. Here goes:

What’s It Like?

It’s like knowing somebody your whole life—literally.

It’s like that moment when you first come into conscious existence; you look beside you and realize that someone else was there every step of the way.

It’s like having to look closely at old pictures to see which one was you, and laughing at your parents when they get it wrong.

It’s like having your own language that nobody else understands.

It’s like looking into a mirror—but before you utter a single word—the reflection says exactly what you were thinking.

It’s like having that feeling of complete understanding with just one single look at any given moment.

It’s like when you can sense that the other person is in a bad mood, but you push their buttons anyway, just for the laugh.

It’s like being greeted on the street by a total stranger, and seeing their look of shock and embarrassment after you’ve told them that you’re not who they think you are.

It’s like witnessing your poor old teacher suffer a miniature breakdown after you’ve caused chaos by swapping seats.

It’s like having someone who will stand by you no matter what, because they know better than anyone else and understand exactly how you think, feel and act.

It’s like growing and maturing alongside your fiercest competitor; hungry to step out of the other persons shadow and find oneself.

It’s like when you get that urge to express your individuality—to develop into your own person—and in doing so you find that the bond between you grows stronger.

It’s like having somebody by your side who inspires you to be better each and every day, and through your own admiration for them, makes you look inward and ask questions of yourself.

It’s like being able to tell each other what nobody else will; having that ability to accept harsh truths, because you know that they come from a place of deep understanding.

It’s like literally feeling another person’s pain—physically and mentally—and wanting to absorb it.

It’s like having immeasurable pride in another human being; that everlasting desire to see another person flourish.

It’s like having a brother, a best friend and a soul mate all rolled into one.

It’s knowing all of this in your heart—but not having to say it—because you know the other person feels the same.

It’s uniquely special, and it’s all that I know.

That’s what it’s like.


Author: Patrick Hyland

Editor: Alli Sarazen

Photo: Courtesy of Author & Marc Antony Macon/Flickr


These two women are twins; biological sisters parented by white father and half-Jamaican mother.


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Patrick Hyland