Advice on being an individual (from a triplet)

If you have a sibling, you’ve probably gotten used to sharing things with them. Everything from clothes and pencils to secrets and jokes pass between you. When you’re a multiple, such as a twin or triplet, this sharing gets taken to the next level. Not only do you have the same birthday as your sibs, but things like grades, extra-curricular activities, and major milestones often come at the same time for all of you. As a triplet myself, I’ve enjoyed sharing moments and memories with my sister and brother. Whether we were entering a new school, trying out for a team or just wanted someone to confide in, we’ve always had each other for support. On the flip side, there were a few times growing up when I struggled to feel like an individual with my own experiences, passions and ideas. How was I supposed to find myself, I wondered, while constantly being considered one of three?

Of course, you don’t need to be a triplet to have doubts about who you are—everyone goes through it. With some trial and error (and help from my sibs!), I’ve been able to put aside feelings of self-doubt and insecurity on the road to becoming uniquely me. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way:

Have A Positive Attitude
In other words, choose to look at the glass as half-full, rather than half-empty. Whenever you have a negative view of a situation—for example, feeling bummed at having to share your b-day with two other people—think of the positives. You probs get to share presents as well, so if your sister got a rad new Barbie dream house, you can ask to move your dolls in. There’s also never the chance that you’ll forget each other’s birthdays. And when it comes to milestones, you can be extra proud of each other for reaching them together—especially since you’ve seen the behind-the-scenes work that went into the achievement. Know that whether you’re a twin, triplet or beyond, there’s plenty of room (and cake!) for you and your sibs to celebrate your individual journeys to a shared destination.

It’s Not A Race
Though it sometimes feels like one. I remember when my brother and I tried to drive for the first time. While he was able to maneuver us around the parking lot pretty smoothly, I couldn’t keep from slamming the brakes before every turn. Afterwards, I told myself it was likely that he would get his license first. Then, when I got mine, it would be less important. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a race (literally and metaphorically). Though I wouldn’t be the first one to learn to drive, I could still learn and be a good (or at least okay) driver in my own right. There were other times where my sister or I would be the first one to do something, but the order didn’t matter.  The truth is, reaching something later than someone else doesn’t erase its value or importance for you.

Boundaries Are Key
It’s easy to get used to doing everything with your sibs. Maybe you have a lot of common interests. My sister and I did competitive cheerleading for three years. The first two years, we were on the same team, but in the third year we were placed on different teams. Even though we were still doing the same activity, this new boundary pushed us to be more self-reliant and develop different skills for our individual routines. My sister’s team even made it to the Varsity Summit competition in Orlando, FL, and I got to cheer her on with my family in the audience. Even if, like my sister and I, you and your siblings enjoy the same activities, you can still find ways to work individually and have your own opportunities to shine.

Branch Out And Explore
Sometimes the easiest way to find out what you like is by learning what you don’t—which means trying new things. Joining a new club or sport, doing community service, or visiting a restaurant that’s been on your radar are all great ways to test the waters. There’s no limit to how many things you try before you find what you’re comfortable with. Growing up, my siblings and I did track and field, choir, t-ball, cheer, football, drama and band. But what I found I liked most was writing, which is why I interned for Girls’ Life last summer. My sister found out she’s got a talent for photography, while my brother is into architecture. So whether you’re doing something alone, with your sibling or with friends, don’t feel locked into it if you don’t love it. There’s always time to explore something new.

Not knowing exactly who you are or what you like is totally normal, especially if you’re still in school. It may feel like there’s pressure for you to define yourself as more than ‘a triplet’ or whatever group you’re a part of, but don’t rush the journey to becoming who *you* are meant to be.

Where you do fall in your family tree? Are you the oldest, middle, youngest? Let us know in the comments!

by Bailey Bujnosek | 3/17/2020