Many people often ask me what it’s like to be a twin. I can’t really answer this question as I don’t know what it’s like to not be one. However, now that I am in my second year of college and have been living apart from Hannah, my sister, for over a year now, I can’t help but wonder if it is a good thing to be separated from your twin.
The Twins and Multiple Births Association (TAMBA) say that there is no one-size fits all approach to separating twins at Primary school level. While they accept that twins need to develop social lives independently of each other, they also recognise that starting school can be daunting time for small children and settling down would be easier if they already have a friend in the class. I personally believe that for most sets of twins, separation at an early stage is the wrong choice. My sister and I were in the same class all the way through national school, in part because it was a tiny country school and therefore had no other choice. We chopped and changed friendship groups in this time, sometimes playing together at lunch time, sometimes not. We disagreed more at this early age. However, we were both still fiercely protective of each other, which most twins are, I believe. If someone is picking on your twin, it feels like they are picking on you.
It was not until secondary school when Hannah and I became very close and were in the same friendship group. We were placed in the same class at out request, as our new school was six times the size of our old, and we only knew a handful of people starting with us. Luckily, our school did not have a policy of twin separation, unlike a lot of other schools. I personally disagree with the school interfering in this way, and according to Twin’s Early Development Research, twins who are separated from an early age have more social problems than those who do not. There are also no proven benefits of separating twins throughout their education. Joanna Moorhead of The Guardian also states that a lot of twins in Britain aren’t being consulted whether they would like to be kept together or not, with some children even having to attend different schools to parent’s dismay.
My social life definitely changed when I went to college as Hannah went to UL and I to NUIG. Both of us were moving across the country and starting a new adventure completely on our own. However, I think it is immensely important for twins to be separated during college. College is a time where you really grow as a person, try new things, and completely break out of your comfort zone. I had always been the more talkative and extroverted twin, with Hannah nearly being the opposite of me. Since we have gone our separate ways, Hannah has become much more outgoing and we have, in a strange way, become more alike due to our time spent apart. I have also become far more independent as a person as I am now able to be content when I am alone. This is why I believe college is the right time for twins to be apart. Hannah is my best friend, and I realise that a lot of twins are not as close as we are still. But perhaps this is because of the mantra my parents instilled in us: “sisters stick together, no matter what”.