Opinion: Life With a Wombmate Is Complicated


David Dermer

Brooklen (left) and Kaybrie (right) posing for media day pictures at their previous school in their sophomore year.

The first time my twin and I were separated was when we were 18-years-old. Brook took a visit to a school in New York and I took one in Illinois. And the night before we both left we cried. A lot.

Today is our 23rd birthday and out of the 8,395 days that we have been alive together, we’ve spent maybe a total of 50 days apart, give or take.

Being a twin has been a huge part of my identity since I was born. Born only three minutes apart, Brook and I have been inseparable ever since. We’ve done everything together. We’ve gone to the same schools, participated in the same activities, stayed in the same classes up until middle school, and had the same friends. You get the point. 

Being a twin is complicated. There’s, of course, the good and the bad, but after 23 years together, I’ve learned that being a twin is both a blessing and a curse. 

I’ve always had a built-in best friend. I’ve always had someone I could count on and talk to about things that were difficult for me to understand because we were going through the same milestones together. I’ve never had to endure some of the scary experiences that some had to do alone. For instance, the first day of school is a particularly nerve-wracking day for some. I always had a best friend to play with at recess, talk to in class, and sit with at lunch. I never had to worry about finding someone to be with. 

In elementary school when one of us was sick and the other had to go to school, I would always cry because I was going to be without her for seven hours. Can you tell I’m the younger twin?

But because I’ve never had to be truly alone, I am now terrified to be alone. And as I got older, I realized that maybe being a twin has its downsides too. 

With Brook always around, I unknowingly hindered my own individuality, identity, and independence, and I’ve resented myself for that since the beginning of high school. 

Being a twin felt like that was the only interesting part about me or perhaps it was the only thing that people were actually interested in learning about. Trying to find or rather define who I am as a person – separate from being a twin – has always been a struggle.  

As twins, people often presumed that we liked the same things, had the same personalities, and had the same interests. For our birthday, friends and family members would get us the same gifts but in different colors like clothes or toys, not taking into consideration that perhaps we had different interests or preferences. Brook’s biggest grievance about sharing a birthday is still that we never get our own cakes. We’ve always gotten just one cake with both of our names on it. It seems like since we share a birthday, we’re forced to share everything else.

I struggled with wanting to be different from her but also staying within the parameters of being labeled as her twin. At some point, the role of being Brook’s twin became my whole identity. 

I struggled with converging from that. My identity and self worth was entirely dependent on my wombmate. 

The worst part about being a twin means you always have someone to compare yourself to. Sometimes that meant Brook was going to be better than me and sometimes that made me feel inferior. The need to measure up to other people’s ideas of success destroyed my confidence and self-worth. 

Our journeys with volleyball could not be more different. While she was a starter and captain almost every year we played volleyball together, I was injured and tucked away on the sidelines. I constantly worried about what people thought of me compared to Brook. It was difficult for me to not feel insecure in comparison to her.

Even though it’s been a love-hate relationship with my identity as a twin, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I realize how much being a twin has helped me grow as a person and as a sister. I have worked even harder to learn more about myself and what makes me unique. Although it can feel stifling at times, I’ve learned to embrace every aspect of it. I’m still learning how to not compare myself to her, but instead to seek wisdom in her success to help me in those same areas.

It’s taken a long time to understand that even though we will always be connected, it doesn’t mean that I am not allowed to converge from the path we’ve always walked together. I once feared the day that Brook won’t be the first person I see in the morning and last person I say goodnight too, but I feel like, after 23 years, I am ready to carve my own individual path.