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.

Never too old to be awkard

Never too old to be awkard

As I sit in my very grown-up and professional cubicle at a prestigious Fortune 500 company, I can’t help feeling like I don’t belong. I may just be an intern, but I always thought that once I got to this stage in my life that I would feel accomplished, sure of myself, and well, like an adult. However, I feel more and more like a kid everyday (and not in the fun “kid in a candy store” kind of way, but the “Holy crap! I have no idea what I’m doing!” kind of way). Whenever I get a cup of water (with a straw of course!) from the community kitchen, I’m afraid to look people in the eye, afraid that they’ll find me out (And doesn’t help that I get mistaken for a 13-year old from randos I meet). Sitting in the cubicle across from me sits a co-worker of mine who graduated Texas A&M in ’08, making him only four years older than me. Despite the relative closeness to my age, in my mind, he’s 20 years older and, therefore, I am not allowed to speak to him in a friendly manner due to the professional nature of our surroundings. Yes, the fact that he is like 7 feet tall helps makes him appear to be significantly older than me (he casts a shadow on my desk as he walks by), but you’d think I’d feel comfortable having a casual conversation with him and the other co-workers close to my age. Yet alas, my awkwardness prevents me from properly adjusting to the social aspects of my work environment.

For example, in my third week of interning, I finally decided it was time to pullout the ear buds and jam out to Pandora. Though this plan dramatically decreased my boredom, it increased my paranoia. Why, you ask? My Pandora station does not scream “I work in a cubicle”. It screams “I love Broadway, all things Disney, and reminiscing about the 90’s”. Many a time a co-worker will walk by and say, “Good morning! Whatcha listening to?”… I freeze. Good God! I would really prefer not to explain how I am listening to the Disney Mania 3 soundtrack (and consequently trying to stop myself from dancing in my chair). My response? “ah, you know… stuff…”. Super awkward? I think so.

My awkwardness even follows me home from the office. I often feel like everyone my age and in my classes is significantly older than me, like they know something I don’t. Either everyone has read Adulthood for Dummies or y’all are just really good at acting like you know what you’re doing and have you’re entire life planned out. Simple things like how to act at a happy hour with your employees (super awkward due to the fact that I’m a teetotaler and, as I said before, look like I’m 13), appropriate (yet witty and charming) work/school cafeteria conversation, or, my personal struggle: what in the world do you do at sleepover at this age?  How do people learn this stuff? Is it innate or does it take practice?

All I know is Hollywood lies (big surprise). In movies and TV shows, the main character always struggles with his/her awkwardness but eventually grows out of it and, by the time they graduate highschool, is ready to hit the pavement on the journey that is his/her life. But not for me. As I get older, I start to realize how truly awkward I am.  Now, I’m not throwing myself a pity party. I rather like my awkwardness (for the most part). Perhaps it’s my innate desire to do what is social proper in any and all situations or the fact that my co-workers aren’t the friendliest bunch that causes me to feel like this.  I’ve pretty much decided to take social norms and chunk them out the window. You social norms are far too confusing and causing me more stress than its worth. I guess me and my awkwardness will be getting used to each other. So I say this as a warning to all y’all out there: I often say the wrong things during dinner conversation, I enjoy discussing the intricacies of the Harry Potter books, and I have no problem whatsoever dancing and singing in the middle of the mall or the SMU boulevard, and I will continue to do the previously stated things among others. so prepare yourself to be instantly cast in my impromptu and PUBLIC musical performances.