For starters, come August 30 this year, I was relieved to finally stop hearing “I wish you weren’t going so far away,” and “I wish New York was closer,” or the most dreaded ones, “Why do you and Haley have to separate? This is so sad! Are you going to miss her?” and “Wait! You’re not going to the same college and doing the exact same thing with your lives?” Insert internal eye roll. It was like everyone thought I was betraying my sister by moving 600 miles away, like it was an easy decision to pick up my life and leave behind my sidekick. I was sick of hearing about it. Family and friends were far more devastated than we were about separating. To us, it was going to happen someday, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t difficult.
Second of all, being a twin has its benefits too! We’re like two peas in a pod and I know I can always count on her to be brutally honest when I ask her if I look fat in a dress.
To stay in the least…it’s nothing like I expected. Are there still times I get up to go tell her something and then realize she isn’t actually there? Of course, I do! And you can bet I sure as hell miss have my handy-dandy chauffer being around! It sucks having to drive myself everywhere now. However, I don’t necessarily feel like I’m missing a piece of me either (and that’s not to say I don’t miss her, I do). And maybe that’s because my parents raised us to be two individuals who just happened to share the same DNA as someone else in this world.
On top of that, Haley and I…we’re vastly different people. Yeah, we may have had the same friend group in high school, but what do you want from a school with 200 students? And we may look the same, talk the same, and act the same to the point that it may creep people out sometimes, but we’re not one and the same. Definitely not one and the same. Our hopes, dreams, wishes and wants are very different. For example, I’m an English major who wants to write and she’s a pre-med student who wants to work in psychiatric oncology. As you can see, completely different sides of the spectrum. But even with these differences, I still thought I would be lost without her. I’m really not.
Walking into a classroom by myself for the first time in a long while wasn’t this scary thing that I imagined it to be. After I got used to it, moving to a completely different state to attend a school I didn’t know anyone at, without her, turned out to be what I wanted, maybe even needed. Every little situation that I thought was going to kill me without my twin by my side, didn’t. And to say the least, being by myself has its perks.
For once in my life, I’m free from the constant comparison. At least, externally. Growing up, we were constantly compared at school. I can still remember how the teachers would gather together in front of a computer screen with our standardized test results side by side and discuss how she did better right in front of me like I couldn’t hear them. And that was only the beginning. Not only did other students clearly value her help on homework over mine, but sometimes they even made me feel invisible sitting right next to her. Not to mention the sometimes cruel comments my sister would throw my way while one friend tended to back her up, or vice versa, as only twins would know. Sometimes sharing the same DNA with someone means you’re fighting yourself because she knows everything about you and knows exactly where to hit.
Also, I can no longer see the “judgment” face when I do things she might think are stupid or ridiculous. For the first time in my life, during orientation, I got up with the first friend I made at Siena and performed “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus in front of a crowd I hardly knew. What did I have to lose? Nothing at all, that’s what. And I got to call Haley later that week and tell her exactly what I did, quite to her surprise. Before, I never would have done that in fear of her ridicule. If, for some crazy reason I had done it, all I would have done was look at her…and not for comfort, but to see what she thought of me. It’s not like that anymore.
Also, I revel in the fact that no one is going to accidentally call me Haley anymore. Not that I ever minded in the first place. Although I must admit, it was completely hilarious to watch the individual die on the inside when they realized their mistake. Shout out to Dr. Kettinger for feeling so bad he presented Haley with an “I’m sorry” card in the next class! And another great thing…she can’t steal my “interesting fact” from me anymore.
But not being the “twins” also has its downfalls. For one, it means we reached the point in our lives where it was time to separate. And let me tell you, the world doesn’t prepare you to lose your other half, even if you did know it was coming. It left me crying on our birthday the whole day because I was moving from Ohio to New York that day. And her kind, thoughtful birthday gift left me in tears for an hour the next day when I finally opened it when I should have been annotating Frankenstein for Freshman Seminar. You have to have your priorities, right?
And oddly enough, it will be weird when I go back to work and she’s not there. The Panera Bread cashier counter isn’t going to be nearly as fun when I can’t yell down to her during the slow hours.
As can be expected, everything changed in a matter of moments. And I had to rip Haley off like a Band-Aid: fast, but still painful. Suddenly, I realized why everyone was so upset by us separating…I had just been ignoring the inevitable for quite some time. But for the first time in my life, I am an individual. I’m Alyssa, not “Haley and Alyssa,” or the “twins” like we’re somehow not two human beings. No one has to know she even exists if I choose not to disclose that (even though she’s still my one and only interesting fact about myself). I’m doing my own thing without any judgment or any comparison to her anymore. And to put it bluntly, it’s fantastic! And sure, when people ask what she’s majoring in and what she wants to do, I roll my eyes and think, “Here we go again,” but I wouldn’t change the fact that I have a twin, and a good twin sister at that.
Although I only get to see her face on my phone screen once a week on Wednesday now, my life is pretty good on my own. And yeah, sometimes the evil voice in my head that tells me she’s doing something better with her life and her degree comes back every now and then, all I have to do is say, “Thank god I’m not dying in biology class right now!”
Not only do I wish all the future twins separating the easiest transitions, but I hope you find that being yourself is just as great as being the twins. I did.