Michael and Nathanial Hodge aren't your average 19-year-old twins. The Alcovy High School seniors have been self-sufficient and living on their own since they were 16.
Their journey to self-reliance started shortly after their birth on Nov. 8, 1992, when a court deemed the twins' mother unfit to raise them. Then the court allowed their grandparents to adopt them.
Michael and Nathanial would soon live a privileged life and attended private schools thanks to their grandfather's income; however, this lifestyle wouldn't last.
The Hodges' grandfather passed away when they were 12, and money became scarce, leaving them to withdraw from private school and transfer to public schools.
"We actually enjoy public school better than we thought we would," Nathanial said. "Even though we each have our own friends, we still rely on each other to get through the hard times."
In addition to changing schools and making new friends, simple home necessities were also taken from them.
"We had to have our phone and cable cut off and only kept our internet and a single cell phone," Nathanial said.
However, the twins' biggest challenge came when their grandmother passed away four year later. The Hodges' family was then faced with choosing a caretaker for them.
"For a long time, they didn't know what to do with us until it was finally determined that our Aunt Sherry would take care of us," Nathanial continued.
The two decided to continue to live in their grandparents' home without a caretaker.
"We live their by ourselves and pay the bills with our check we receive from Social Security," Nathanial said. "Our Aunt Sherry lives next door and handles the finances and school parts of our lives, but other than that we take care of ourselves."
The twins agreed that the only way they have been able to carry on is relying on each other.
"Even with friends, it's hard finding someone to relate to. There really aren't a whole lot of people out there who have gone through what my brother and I have," Nathanial said. "This experience has definitely made our relationship with each other a lot stronger and closer."
Even through the darkness of the past and present, they look forward to a bright future. Michael has been accepted to Georgia State University, while Nathanial plans on attending Georgia Perimeter College and later transferring to Georgia Tech.
"I would like to become an entrepreneur and own different businesses. I would like to own a bar and a company that does event planning in venues in Atlanta," Michael said.
"My goals include becoming an engineer and building different things. I would like to have my own company that builds different infrastructures in cities," Nathanial said.
Michael and Nathanial agreed that even though they would like to change the things that have happened to them, they believe it has all made them better people in the long run.
"I wish I had an actual family that I could live with and that would support me. Maybe then my grades would be better," Michael said.
"Generally when people go through this kind of stuff, they don't want to seek help. Instead they hide inside themselves. My advice for people is to find someone that they can trust. Everyone only wants to help you in the end," Nathanial said.
Michael and Nathanial hope that people learn that even when it seems like life can't get any better, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
"You can get through anything," Nathanial concluded.