My twin sister is my soulmate. Whilst she braved the cold and adventured our snow-covered garden, I curled up under the warmth of blankets absorbed in a good book. Being so different and yet having our lives so intimately entwined has given me a unique sense of individuality.
My twin sister, Alanna, beat me into the world by 20 minutes – 20 minutes that to my Mum, felt like 20 years. Little did we know, we had just begun our vibrant and adventurous life together as twins. Whilst other children spent time learning how to build friendships, I was born with mine.
As babies we shared everything: a small, bright bedroom decorated with exotic animals and a rocking horse, a pram, which we giggled in as we rode over bumpy ground, and a marvelous curiosity for everything we encountered.
As we began to talk and toddle around, I clumsily knocked into things whilst Alanna naturally found her feet. As we learnt to eat new foods, I was reserved, sticking to my favourite cheese sandwiches with Alanna across the table in full excitement, allowing new fruits to tingle on her tongue.
Whilst other children spent time learning how to build friendships, I was born with mine.
Slowly our small, bright bedroom became two larger and very different rooms. My walls were painted a blushing pink with butterflies flying in every direction. Across the hallway, Alanna played in a room of deep purple, surrounded by chestnut horses which galloped across the walls. Despite discovering our own quirks and curiosities, Alanna and I were joined at the hip, in love with spending time together.
Our Mum encouraged our individuality, running back and forth from my ballet classes and Alanna’s horse-riding lessons. We would venture into our own passions and after doing so, fall excitedly onto our old cream sofa to tell each other all about it. It was important to our parents that we learn to build our own identities – something which years on, has helped me to seek out my own life separate from Alanna.
When it comes to fraternal twins, it is vital that loved ones acknowledge and celebrate differences so that each person has a chance to build their own sense of self and not become attached to a joint, twin identity.
Being a fraternal twin is magic; our uniqueness is the very thing that makes us so close. Our difference in appearance is almost as stark as our difference in personality: my hair falls in soft, honey blonde curls that melt onto my shoulders; Alanna’s hair tumbles in rich, dark hues and is always cut short and neat.
Alanna and I were joined at the hip, in love with spending time together.
I was born with hazel eyes that appear green in the sunlight, Alanna with eyes as blue as the Cornish sea. Her skin is dusted with freckles – mine, a blank canvas.
Interestingly, when we visited our grandparents, they attempted to dress us in the same frolicking outfits, despite our intense differences. In school and around friends, we were often referred to as ‘the twins’ or ‘the Cranes’ which was much to our dislike, having always been treated as individuals by our parents. Spending our days, weeks, months and years together meant that naturally, we formed a likeness when it came to sense of humour, little phrases and mannerisms.
It was important to our parents that we learn to build our own identities.
Alanna and I share the same memories, have the same friends and family and have experienced almost every rite of passage together. Being so intimately connected with someone is a unique and extraordinary experience. It is within this deeply personal relationship that I have found my own individuality, and Alanna hers.
As we entered our teenage years and began high school, our differences flourished. We remained close, sitting together at lunchtime with a shared group of close friends, but as the bell echoed throughout the campus, I headed to my favourite English class as she made her way to Biology.
It was at this time that we truly came to grasp our individual character, struggling through the uncertain years of adolescence. Body image became a prevalent point of conversation between us as we noticed our bodies changing in different ways to each other.
We had come to accept that after years of shared experiences and time together, our lives were venturing down two separate pathways.
There were many days that were dull; we felt disconnected and separate from one another, having become even more independent in our self-image and awareness. We had always sought after our own distinct identity, but we remained incredibly close. Our teenage years proved to be complex as we attempted to navigate a new kind of individuality.
At 17, after years of having our own space, we moved into a new home which meant sharing a room together for the first time since we were babies. This became a challenge – a shared space as we attempted to grow into our differences.
I began to explore the avenues of writing and thought ahead to a creative career in the world of publishing; Alanna set her gaze on nursing and midwifery.
I wanted to stay up into the late hours of the night writing and chatting whilst Alanna adored the comfort of her bed and wished to turn the lights out before midnight. More so than ever, we encountered our differences and unlike the many years of our childhood, longed for our own space.
It wasn’t until our final years of high school that we realised the value in our closeness and its ability to enhance our individuality. We had come to accept that after years of shared experiences and time together, our lives were venturing down two separate pathways. Before university began, we gathered our savings and jetted off to Europe for ten incredible weeks.
We combined our interests: my love of literature and history in the museums we visited, Alanna’s passion for the countryside as we strolled along the vast green of England – and of course, to both of our excitement, a colourful indulgence in new foods. We ventured across Europe’s diversity, onto the seductive streets of Paris and balmy terraces of Rome.
We had always sought after our own distinct identity, but we remained incredibly close.
Now, at different universities and studying for our wonderfully different lives, we appreciate our individuality which thanks to our parents, has been fostered from an early age. From shared rooms, prams and toys, being called ‘the twins’ and wild attempts to dress us the same, Alanna and I flourished into two unique people, framed by our experiences together.