Life

7 things I wish people would stop saying to me and my identical twin

Business Insider US
Mikhaila and her twin sister, Aimee. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
Mikhaila and her twin sister, Aimee. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
  • I have an identical twin sister who was born two minutes before me. 
  • We have been incredibly close throughout our lives, having attended the same schools and shared friends.
  • While growing up and even now as adults, there are some things we are sick of hearing. 
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

I have an identical twin sister, and while I love being a twin I'm used to hearing some annoying questions and statements from people.

Mikhaila and Aimee when they were babies. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
Mikhaila and Aimee when they were babies. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

My twin sister, Aimee, was born two minutes before me. 

We were incredibly close from a young age, and my mom says that we even shared a secret language when we were toddlers. This closeness continued when we went to school and throughout our adult lives. 

I love being a twin — it's like having a built-in best friend for life. However, I have heard some annoying questions and statements by people who don't understand what it's like to be a twin. Here are just a few of them.

Please, never refer to us as "the twins."

Mikhaila, Aimee, and their mother Debbie. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
Mikhaila, Aimee, and their mother Debbie. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Growing up, and even now as adults, Aimee and I often get referred to as "the twins" instead of by our own names. This is something my mom discouraged family members from calling us when we were children, because she felt that the phrase took away an opportunity for us to find our own individual identities.

Don't ask which twin is "the smart one."

Mikhaila and Aimee. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
Mikhaila and Aimee. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

While it's good to acknowledge that twins have differences, it can also be hurtful to constantly compare us. Since my sister is a dance teacher and enjoys the gym, she often gets referred to as "the sporty one" and since I work in journalism and enjoy reading I often get asked if I am "the smart twin." 

We have been compared in all aspects. I once witnessed two of my former coworkers argue over which twin was "the prettier one" after they met my sister for the first time.

Don't ask: "If you are identical, why is your sister taller?"

Mikhaila and Aimee pictured in 2019. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
Mikhaila and Aimee pictured in 2019. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

One thing that has been constantly pointed out to me is that Aimee is taller by two inches, which has made some people question whether we are identical. 

According to the Stanford Department of Genetics' Tech Interactive, some identical twins can have different heights and weights because these factors aren't just controlled by DNA, but also by lifestyle factors.

Some scientists believe that DNA is responsible for about 80% of a person's height, according to a 2016 research paper published by Nutrition Reviews, which is cited in an article by Medical News Today. 

Nutrition, sleep patterns, and exercise can influence height growth, according to Medical News Today.

Avoid Jedward-inspired nicknames.

Anyone who lives in the UK has probably heard of John and Edward, twin singers who use the stage name "Jedward." They appeared on "The X Factor" in 2009, when I was around 13. 

It wasn't long before our classmates were inspired by Jedward and created a similar nickname for Aimee and me. They combined both of our names and started calling us "Mikaimee."

Don't expect us to answer to the wrong name either.

Mikhaila and Aimee pictured in 2017. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
Mikhaila and Aimee pictured in 2017. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

When we were children, most people either couldn't tell the difference between us, or they wouldn't even try. My sister left high school the year before I did, and even in her absence some people called me her name.

I got used to it over time, and if I heard someone shout my sister's name, I would automatically answer without correcting them. It just felt easier than causing a fuss.

Of course, now as an adult, I don't mind correcting people. 

Things that are left unsaid are also important.

Mikhaila and Aimee during a vacation in San Francisco in 2019. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
Mikhaila and Aimee during a vacation in San Francisco in 2019. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

Aimee and I no longer live together and we have different work schedules, which means we often hang out with our mutual friends separately. 

If a mutual friend shares a big life update with Aimee or if they change plans to hang out that the three of us previously made, they often forget to inform me too. "I assumed Aimee already told you," is something that I hear time and time again. 

"You're basically the same person" isn't fair to say to any twin.

Mikhaila and Aimee in Edinburgh. Mikhaila Friel/Insider
Mikhaila and Aimee in Edinburgh. Mikhaila Friel/Insider

While there is no denying our similarities, Aimee and I also have major differences in our personalities, our hobbies, our style, and in our life experiences. 

As a twin, it can be difficult to form your own identity and to have your peers recognise it. Having someone say you are like "the same person" — even if it's in a joking manner — only reinforces the misconception that twins are not individuals.

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