Queue up your general stereotype here…
Do you have it?
Yes, I am an only child. Is it hard to believe? To some people it is, to others, to so much. I’ve read the articles, I’ve taken family dynamic courses in university, they all say the general same thing about being an only child. They all give the lists of why I am the way I am or give me the general picture of what my family should look like. Sure, some of it is true but a lot of it isn’t.
As an only child you are supposed to be more mature because you grew up surrounded by only adults. You are presumed to be a spoiled brat. You are not supposed to have the same normal social development as other children with siblings around your same age. Only children become conditioned to depend on themselves, they enjoy being alone, and are able to entertain themselves easily.
So, let’s get into then…
Sure, I grew up around adults but I also have a crazy amount of first and second cousins around me at all times. I also grew up in a small town and was put into playschool at an early age. I was always around kids or preteens that all treated me like I was family.
Sure, I grew up in a household that primarily only had me in it. I had a lot of time to myself reading my books in the comforts of a huge walk-in closet and was allowed the space I needed to grow my imagination (probably bigger than anyone else I knew). Because of this I notice the greatest difference in my personality compared to those of my cousins and close friends growing up. I was very serious and highly sensitive. I took everything firsthand. I was both the eldest, middle, and youngest. I took responsibility for my actions, I was the centre of attention at many family gatherings, I hid in a corner, I was always the quietest in the room. I never liked messing up, and therefore didn’t like to be a part of the younger children’s table. I never comprehended things the same way that they did – even though I tried hard to.
Sure, I was spoiled but I never thought of myself as a brat – a princess, maybe (yes, I get that sounds bratty but let me explain). I usually got (and still get) what I wanted, now, that doesn’t mean I didn’t work hard to get it – I did. Rejection was not something, and still isn’t something, I take lightly. This is where my highly sensitive side steps up to the plate and bats every single time. There is no denying or justifying that words and actions hurt. This is not saying that children with siblings aren’t this way, I’m sure they are in some way. But the point is, those comments and actions are irrelevant when it comes to the more important things in life, and I tend to over think them.
I need to confide in someone when this happens to me, every single time. I need to be assured and reassured that I am not alone in this world, that somewhere, someone is also walking down a similar path. And here’s the kicker – loneliness. It sucks, doesn’t it? To feel like you are alone and there is no one there for you. But that’s what friends and siblings are there for, right? But nothing lasts forever – family, friends, spouses, etc. And this is what I think about, a lot. I must always be busy, on the move. But here’s the thing about loneliness, it doesn’t scare me as much as it might scare you. I was alone a lot and therefore I can’t associate it to being something terrible. It is just another part of reality. I am comfortable doing anything by myself, including watching movies. I’m quite independent and that is something that I take pride in.
You know that annoying but also fascinating time in a child’s life when they find the question ‘why?’ absolutely amazing? That’s still me, to this day. I need to know the reason behind everything – including why you think I am meant to be in your life or why I mean something to you (blame that on the need for constant reassurance – sorry). I was always encouraged to ask questions, to be inquisitive. “Because I said so,” just didn’t exist.
Maybe this was why as soon as that question became a part of my life I started to learn to read. By the age of three I was reading fairy tales to myself. By age of six I already had a collection of short stories that I couldn’t get enough of. By the age of eight I had an entire library.
So, I did mature faster than others. I spent a lot of time hanging out with my cousins who were anywhere from five to fifteen years older than I was. I also spent a lot of time with my aunts, and my grandparents. I learned things from their point of view. I didn’t spend a large portion of my time learning how to argue with siblings nor did I ever have experience getting called names from them. I guess that’s another reason why I am in constant wonder of why we all just can’t get along. It’s also why I never really learned to take rude remarks and cruel behaviour well.
As an only child, I may fall into some of the stereotypes but I am also a rare breed. I was happy with the way I grew up and am even happier with the person I have become. I don’t want your sympathy that I didn’t grow up with siblings or understand that sibling love. I just wanted you to know a little bit more about me, to have some familiarity. For you to know how much the little things matter.