After 22 years of living with my twin (and best friend), I am now officially ‘twinless’. Ok ok, so she just moved to Houston, but it has been a pretty big change in my life. I can hear a couple “I told you so”s coming my way, but before you start lecturing me on how we were too dependent on each other, cool your jets. The change from twinhood to singleton status has been hard for reasons you may not have thought (at least, I didn’t). I haven’t cried about it. I haven’t called her every day (this surprised me). Actually, Haley and I have only had 3 or so phone conversations since she left over a month ago. We haven’t even skyped! While I do miss having someone understand my inner most being, know every inside joke I’ve ever had, read my moods, and share my experiences, I have enjoyed, no relished, the opportunity to be my own person. I have always been ‘my own person’ but, to the outside world, I was always known as a pack of twinkies. I came with a buddy. Two for the price of one. Double trouble. A stereo set. But now, when I meet people, they know me for ME. They don’t have to struggle to differentiate between Haley and I. They don’t have to be scared to call me by my name afraid they’ll make a mistake (Calling me by “Gatewood” or “twin” instead… I know you’re trick!). I was never afraid to be my own person, to be on my own, but this past month has made me realize the differences between twins and singletons and has taught me some major lessons:
1. It is ‘ok’ to be alone.
I’ve been alone before. I lived in a single dorm for the past 3 years. I’ve spent time just by myself and have enjoyed it for the most part. But there is a difference between ‘being alone’ and ‘feeling alone’. When Haley was here, she could have been across campus, in a different room, or in class… we could have been completely separated and still feel like we were together. I knew she was near by somewhere. So though I sat in my room by myself just piddling, doing homework, or something, I never felt ALONE. Now that she is in Houston and I have my own life with work and such, I have spent many nights eating meals by myself, been shopping by myself, and have seen some movies by myself. At first this startled me. I thought something was wrong. I shouldn’t be spending so much alone time with myself! This is unhealthy! But then it hit me. This is normal. Not everyone has a twin available to them at every waking moment. Sometimes friends are busy and can’t hang out. Sometimes, you are going to do things by yourself. That’s life and there is nothing unhealthy about it.
2. You have to schedule time with friends.
Now this may sound like a no brain-er to y’all and I thought I knew this too, but when you grow up with your best friend living with you, you don’t have to do this much. I’m learning that though alone time isn’t bad, you can’t stay alone forever. We need people. I need people. I’m extrovert for crying out loud. Especially since I don’t work with anyone my age. So I have been learning to plan lunch dates, coffee dates, etc. with people. Something I always knew how to do but never did very frequently, at least by myself. I’m not used to hanging out one-on-one with people. It’s awesome but different. I’m used to having a side-kick to further conversation, save me from awkward moments, and provide a get-away scheme. I’m also used to my best friend being available at all times, which is not the case for everyone. Friendship takes time, planning, and commitment. I kind of feel like I’m building my friendships from scratch. I still hang out with my old friends but I feel like I’m a new person, a single person. And it’s different and exciting.
3. Middle school sucks.
This one came as the biggest surprise. For all of you who don’t know, I was home schooled for my middle school years so I was able to skip out on all that awkwardness and insecurities. I entered high school with pretty high self esteem and powered through until the present day. However, I have realized that since Haley has left, my personality has shifted. I’ve become more reserved. I tend to observe my environment more before speaking and I feel more at ease. I think subconsciously I used to compete against Haley for attention, trying to help people differentiate between the two of us. I tried to cater to everyone to help them tell us apart. So much so, it became stressful and caused me to be a heightened version of myself. For you Myers-Briggs personality test peoples out there, I’m an ESFJ, however, I never really acted like the other ESFJs I knew. Now, I feel more like an ESFJ than ever! I feel like I’m discovering myself for the first time. Which is awesome, but scary. I’ve noticed I feel a little insecure in group scenarios or meeting new people because I don’t have the comfort of knowing Haley will always be there if no one enjoys my company. She’s not there to break up awkward silences or further the conversation. It’s all me baby. And I’m not entirely comfortable with the ‘realized’ me yet. I feel like I’m in middle school, trying to figure everyone out. Trying to figure myself out.
4. I am not dependent.
For years, people have been telling me that Haley and my relationship was/is unhealthy. Well folks, I have solid proof it’s not. It wasn’t unhealthy, it was just different. Just like I am having trouble figuring out how singletons relate to the world, singletons will have trouble understanding how twins relate with the world and consequently, each other. The only problem is singletons will never get to experiment. I can’t give you a twin. I can’t give you a lifetime bond with a genetic double. But you can take my twin away.
I will never think Haley and my relationship was/is unhealthy. However, I do know that we were so in sync with each other that it kept us from exploring ourselves and our worlds. I don’t NEED Haley. I don’t need to her to function. I don’t need her to socialize and I don’t need her emotionally. She doesn’t ‘complete me’ and I’m not empty without her. But she is my sister and the closest friend I have ever known. She knows me inside and out, calls me out on my crap, and laughs at life with me. She and I have history. Who wouldn’t want someone like that around?
This past month as a singleton has really given me a glimpse inside myself. I’ve given myself a lot of pep-talks and psycho-evaluations and, to be honest, I’ve been confused about a lot of it. You singletons are a different breed to be sure. But I’ve really enjoyed it. I feel like I’m living in my own Lifetime movie (the cliche one about the girl coming of age). So I’m excited to explore this world I live in from a different perspective: My own.