Last week, I shared in my Friday Favorites post a podcast that my SIL sent me that really made me think about my experience as an only child. So I thought I’d share some of those with you today.
I think only children often get a really bad rep, and like any stereotype, I think it’s mostly unfair but also based on some sort of twisted truth. I always hated the question, “do you have any brothers or sisters.” That is, until I met my first only child friend in college, my randomly paired roommate and one of my best friends to this day Alyssa. She embraced her only child-ness for everything that it was and she taught me to do the same. Today, I’m sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of being an only child. At least from my point of view.
Couldn’t help but share that photo from our trip to Del Mar last year classic only child, am I right? Let me just sit on this curb and call an uber because I’m DONE hiking.
I Am An Old Soul
I’ve always felt like I’m more of an old soul. I was always told that I was “so much more mature” than most kids my age. Well, when your primary audience is adults it would make sense that your maturity would grow at a different rate than your peers who are used to being around their siblings. While this didn’t make me immune to being a stupid teenager, it did mean that I was comfortable holding a conversation with authority figures and adults.
I Am Loyal
When you don’t have siblings that “have your back” your tribe of friends becomes your family. I’ve always felt like my friends were super ultra important to me in my life, they were my family. This also makes it ultra devastating when a friend disappoints you. For me, that’s always been a hard thing to wrap my brain around. Probably because I didn’t practice being disappointed or upset by siblings but still learning to love them anyway. That being said, I am loyal to a fault until someone crosses the line, then I probably won’t handle that well or in a forgiving manner. Something I’m constantly working on in therapy. I find this trait to be true of many only children I’ve met.
I Can Share.
Not only can I share, but I love sharing. Sharing stuff is a form of bonding, a symbol of friendship. People assume only children don’t like to share and that’s just not true. But here is the thing….
I want you to ask first. I want to have control over the fact that I’m sharing. If you grab something off my plate without asking me first, I’m not going to say anything but I’m physically boiling on the inside. If you ask me though, I will probably happily share whatever it is as the ultimate sacrifice to show you how much you mean to me. Taking without asking is the best way to show an only child you hate them. True story.
I Am A Control Freak
I’ve never heard of or met an only child that wasn’t a control freak or had type A tendencies. Seriously, there is so much pressure riding on only children to be the best they can be it’s insane. To rise to the challenge, many of us get organized and it’s amazing. I’ve never lived in a situation (until I got married) that I couldn’t control my surroundings almost 100% (at least as far as my room where I could retreat.) It still pains me sometimes to look around the room and realize that not everything is organized the way I want it or not all the messy piles are mine to deal with. Luckily my husband is both clean and meticulous, so I don’t’ have too much to worry about.
I Know How to Socialize
Only children get a bad rap but I promise you I know how to socialize. Only children are supposed to be introverts, but I am DEFINITELY an extrovert. I love connecting with others and hearing their stories, but I need time to myself to decompress afterward. When too many people are in my space for too long I get overwhelmed. I actually love hosting the holidays, like LOVE it. Then after its over and everyone has gone, I equally love the empty house.
I’m Comfortable By Myself
Like many only children, alone time has been a part of my whole life. I remember in college, it took me a solid two months to realize no one was there to tell me what to do. The transition to adulthood with ample alone time was literally seamless. It probably helped I lucked out with my own room freshman year! I was comfortable doing things by myself, eating by myself, studying by myself, and going to the gym by myself. Not that I didn’t have friends, I had tons of friends. I enjoyed going to do things with them too, but I didn’t have to be with them 24/7.
I Worry About My Mom
Only children have one significant burden that others do not have, they are the sole responsible person that takes care of their parents as they age. I think this is amplified in an only child of a single parent situation. While my mother is not in ill health now, I still worry about her, I think in part because I feel like it’s my job. I know that very often only children are not the only ones who deal with this situation. All too often only one sibling becomes the sole caretaker. Either way, I think its hard to feel alone in the case of your parents.
So that’s it! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Over the years, I heard a lot of jokes made about only children. How we don’t know how to interact with others, don’t know how to share, or what it’s like to have a sister/brother. Maybe some of that is true, but I also have so many other things that take the place of those things. I feel unique because my mother only made one clone of her and I honestly didn’t look that much like her. I looked much more like the photos of my father who chose not to know me. That may sound sad, but because I never had any contact with him it was just a fact of life. I didn’t miss anything, crave attention from a Dad that was never there, or have any of those issues. It was just my normal, I think no contact was much better than deadbeat half ass contact. My mother also never bad mouthed him, not once, which I think helped me stay detached. My point being, I felt like a unique human being in the world. There was only one of me, no one really looked like me, I was one of a special one of a kind. That’s a feeling I wouldn’t trade for the world.
what about you? Tell me, did you have siblings? What was the BEST about it ?