For most of my life, I’ve answered to two names. One is my own, Benjamin, and the other is Patrick, my identical twin brother’s. I had been so conditioned to people mistaking me for him that I naturally turned my head at the mention.
I don’t do that anymore. Most of the friends I’ve made at ASU have never met Patrick. For the first time in my life, I’m just Ben — and I love it.
My brother and I are not those identical twins who are constantly at each other’s throats. The fistfights and chair-throwing were largely restricted to our youth, and probably arose more from our half-Irish ancestry than anything. We’re the furthest thing from those occasionally feisty pairs. In fact, I get along better with him than just about anyone.
However, being an identical twin is, in my experience, not a good thing. We always felt like it was something to escape — so we did. When it came time for college decisions, I became a Sun Devil while my brother became a Wildcat.
We each wanted to be our own person. No comparisons, no competition and no more being called “Benpat,” a combination of our names. Once in college, I was amazed at how pleasant it was to have something that so many people take for granted — to be seen as an individual rather than a bundle. There are twins who embrace this kind of “package deal;” but for others, it’s a burden.
Some like to be sappy and say things along the lines of, “There’s no stronger bond than that between identical twins.” There are times when I think that’s absolutely true. In a lot of senses, we’ve lived almost the same life with the same ups and downs; therefore, it’s only natural that we understand each other more than anyone else could ever hope. The sad part is that the closeness of this relationship made it all that much harder to separate when we realized how much we wanted to be individuals.
For the most part, we sometimes wish we were just brothers separated by a year or so. Perhaps that way we could have had separate friend groups and developed personalities independent of one another, while keeping the priceless value of brotherhood. Instead of people wondering, “Oh, should I invite the other twin to my birthday so he won’t think I hate him?”, they might go through the normal thought process and simply invite who they want to invite.
Even fraternal twins are unaware of the struggles in having a clone walking around. Different looks go a long way in having people treat you as separate entities. When it comes down to it, I never wanted people’s perception of me to be that closely attached to someone else, no matter how much I like my brother.
Those of us with siblings understand the annoyance of having our life choices constantly evaluated in the context of another’s, but only identical twins experience this to the highest degree. I see it all the time and it can be a really heavy weight to carry.
As hard as it was to break off into different worlds, things are better this way.
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MurphJamin
Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.
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