Twinless

Twinless

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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.

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A Look Into The Life of a Twin

Being a twin is something that no one will ever understand unless, of course, you are one. You will never know what it feels like to share your entire childhood with someone. You share experiences, an environment, and, in my case, most of your physical appearance. Being a twin is probably the most important thing in the world to me. God has blessed me with a sister and best friend all in one. But recently people have been criticizing our relationship, saying it is unhealthy. I can definitely understand where these concerns are coming from but would like to point some things out:

  1. We are not the same person.Yes, we grew up in the same house, dealt with most of the same experiences, and are basically identical (‘semi-identical’ if you want to get technical. Look it up.), but just have experienced the same situations doesn’t mean that those situation affected us the same. We are different people in many regards. Here are a few examples:Differences:I am an ESFJ, she is an INTJ. I am a real estate finance/ econ major. She is a creative advertising major. I excel at math and science and she can school me in english and history. I am two inches taller, she wears a smaller size in jeans. She loves to philosophize about life and its complexities, I like to talk about the hear and now and all the details in between. Issues in our childhood affected us so differently that we even have different memories of the same event. She is left-handed, im righthanded. She has more freckles than me and has a birth mark near her temple. I had broken blood vessels on my face my entire adolescence, she did not. I have glasses and she has bangs. My favorite color is orange, Haley’s is green. Her favorite book is 1984, mine is Pride and Prejudice. I’m an alto she is a soprano. Ketchup makes me nauseous but she can eat it. I have a fear of whales, she doesn’t. I’m right-handed and she is left-handed. We both have different testimonies and internal struggles. She has always had better grades (she was #5 in the class and I was #13) and got a much higher SAT score then I did. She also has way more scholarships than I do. We have different DNA (BAM!). Shall I continue?

    Similarities:Hair color, eye color, university, love for musical theater/broadway, the car we drive (its expensive to get two separate cars), favorite TV show, both Captains on a dance team, both RAs, go to the same campus ministry and are in the same small group, go to the same church…. and now I’m drawing a blank.As you can see, despite our physical appearance, most of our similarities are things that two non-twin sisters or best friends would share. Thats why we hang out together. We enjoy doing the same things. I wouldn’t hang out with Haley so much if more people were willing to go on a DART adventure, eat at a food truck, and see a musical (and before you say “I’ve never asked”, I have. Multiple times. No one has ever taken me up on the invitation).

  2. We have our own lives. There are days where I don’t even see my sister at all. Not even in passing. We both have such different majors that our classes rarely overlap. We also are headed into completely different, if not opposite, careers where we have each have excelled without the ‘twin crutch’. I don’t NEED my sister. I don’t NEED to spend time with her. I WANT to. There are some times that I don’t want to be around her. There are some times where I find her super annoying and frustrating. There are some times I think to myself, “If we weren’t twins I probably wouldn’t hang out with her”. These are all things that occur in a NORMAL friendship. You learn to look past someone’s faults and quirks and love them for the person God made them. Its just easier for my sister and I because we grew up learning the same morals, the same religion, and the same politics. We don’t have to tip toe around the taboo topics because we know where we stand. We’re close. However….
  3. We weren’t always friends. The concerns that have been brought up recently are completely understandable. Though I don’t know many twins myself, I do know pairs of friends who are far too close and have, what I would call, an unhealthy relationship. I can see where everyone is coming from. However, Haley and I weren’t always best friends. Growing up we definitely were too dependent upon each other. This came out of necessity due to the fact that we were home-schooled for 8 years of our lives and therefore only had each other for a classmate. We spent most of our days creating games, playing dress-up, and making movies. BUT, we never got to know each other. We just expected each other to be there when we needed a play-mate or were bored. The worst year for our relationship was our freshman year of college when we roomed together. I HATED it. I got to see the dependancy that was so subtle all those years rear its ugly head. So when we both got the RA job but in different dorms I was excited. That first year living apart was by far the best year of our relationship. For the first time in our lives, we had to schedule time to spend together. We also had different experiences and stories to talk about. This was the first time that we had actual conversations that weren’t about the weather (in high school we never spoke to each other at meals because we had nothing to say. What do you talk about when you do everything together?). I really began to understand Haley and how she ticks. And though the world doesn’t see it, we are like night and day. The way we tackle the world is so opposite from each other. I was surprised I never saw it before. So yes, I agree. Before my sophomore year we had an unhealthy relationship. But out of our dependency we have both grown into independent young women who have a deep respect and understanding for each other. Over the past year, our parents got divorced. I have never been so thankful in my life to have a twin than going through that experience. Its hard enough to watch your family sever, but to be around people who don’t understand is rough. I firmly believe that God has a plan for everything and I believe he sent me Haley to help me get through this tough stage in my life. If it weren’t for her my relationship with Him may not be as strong as it is today and I wouldn’t change that for the world.
  4. We’re not Twinkies. We don’t come in a pack. In other words, we can do things separate. We don’t have to be together at all times. We don’t have to be together at all really. I love the one-on-one time I get to spend with people (Quality time spent is my #1 love language). So if you ever want to spend time with me, and only me, just ask. I won’t be offended and neither will Haley. We have agreed that if someone ever requests to hang out with one of us, then that’s awesome! It means someone has taken the time to get to know each of us for who were are and not what we are. Just because we shared a womb doesn’t mean we’re an entity. We are two individual human beings with different hopes, dreams, and personalities. You’d be surprised how different we really are. All you have to do is take the time to find out.
I hope that explains some things and quiets some concerns you may have. Once again, I understand where the concerns are coming from and I admit we haven’t always had a healthy relationship. But we’re two flawed and broken people just like you and need grace time and again. Life is a work in progress and we’re chugging along.