I am a twin. Most people know that about me.
One thing that comes with that is the confusion of who I am. It used to bother me more than it does now. I felt slighted when people asked questions like, “Which one are you?” I felt like it said something about me, and my identity. Mostly I took it as a sign that I didn’t have identity. That is a notion that I have overcome. Now I see things differently.
The confusion about who I am says more about the confused person than it does about me. What is really interesting is that there is no consistency in the confusion, not even with people who we’ve simultaneously met. There have been times when in a single setting our twinness has come up and some people will remark that it was obvious because we are visually indistinguishable while others want us to produce ID to prove that we’re even brothers, much less twins. So it’s not really us. It’s them.
Just last night someone I have known for years now told me that the longer she knew me and my brother the less we looked like each other. The idea that underlies what she said is important. Getting to know us better showed us to be different in ways that are deeper than simple appearance. It’s nothing we did, but what she did—essentially got to know us better. As people get to know us our identity shows through and it is easy to tell us apart. That’s independent of things like my growing of a beard (something he always has).
Knowing this has helped my esteem. And it has helped me to be more accommodating. I used to let people suffer because they couldn’t tell. I was a jerk. Now I make a point of casually throwing it out at the beginning, “I’m Brandon,” I’ll say, “in case you couldn’t remember.” It’s a simple statement without judgment. It’s easier, especially when that person hasn’t had the chance to get to know us. That’s often true of cousins, aunts and uncles. Another thing I’ll do is to mention his name at the very beginning of the conversation. By deduction they should be able to figure it out (if not, well that’s not my fault. They are beyond help).
What really bothers me is the person who has known me for years and still just doesn’t know. I don’t have the patience for that kind of person. To me that means I’m not that important in their life. I am quick to cut that person out of my life. I don’t need that subtle disrespect. I will be forgiving if you are really trying, but not when you are just too lazy or apathetic.
Now an amusing anecdote.
The other day someone was asking for distinguishing physical features to tell me and Brad apart. Brad was responding. He said something to the effect that his name had four letters as did the words hair and chin. Since he has a beard and I didn’t, it should be an easy mnemonic device. I commented, “And Brandon has seven letters…” I had hoped that in the time it took for me to point that out I would think of a seven-letter word to describe me. I couldn’t do it. But Brad didn’t miss a beat. While I was standing looking silly he said, “Dumba**. Seven letters like Brandon.”
Yep, he got me good.