Every time I tell somebody that I grew up an only child, I’m usually met with raised eyebrows or that pitiful look. The look that says, "Poor you, what a lonely existence," or "What a spoiled brat you must have been!" While I’m not saying I was neither, I’ll admit, being an only child has had a huge effect on my life and relationships.
But before you misjudge the "only-child syndrome," here are some things you need to know about us…
1. We’re fiercely independent — not self-centered!
Unlike siblings who can confide or rely on each other at any time, we have to do a lot of things on our own. And since I had no allies to defend me or pave the way, I had to fight my own battles at home. So forgive us if we seem a little self-absorbed, we’re just stuck in our own way of doing things. It just takes us a little longer for us to adjust and let go of some control.
2. We are not used to sharing.
Growing up, I was aware of how fortunate I was. I had my own bedroom with my own things, and the added bonus of knowing that all the gifts under the Christmas tree were all mine! So the concept of sharing my space or possessions was a big deal. Eventually, I came to learn that sharing is not so bad after all. However, we are still used to sole ownership and slightly OCD — but we do compromise in the end.
3. Alone time and silence are essential for the soul.
We often need our space, so don’t think we are being anti-social. While we like to socialize and meet new people, it can be quite overwhelming when too many people are crowding our personal space all the time. Being an only child, I’d spend more time in peace and solitude, and that would often become my comfort zone. As much as I love spending quality time with family and friends, I’ll always value "me time." So don’t be offended if we suddenly retreat into ourselves from time to time.
4. We are deep thinkers — not secretive.
We grew up with no siblings to take on our worries or secrets, so we often become deep thinkers, keeping our concerns to ourselves. This is not because we mean to be secretive, it’s because we are so used to solving our own issues and don’t want others to make a big deal out of it — no matter how big or small. But keep asking questions or show genuine concern and we will soon open up.
5. We can be highly sensitive.
There is an element of ‘perfection’ that comes with being an only child. After all, you are all your parents have, they sacrificed their world for you, and your mission is not to disappoint them. You have the added pressures of doing your best in everything and excelling in life. The only problem with that is when mistakes happen and the praise stops flooding in, it’s hard to accept failure. We don’t take criticism very well and will often take it extremely hard. But as they say, failure is the key to success, and we welcome positive vibes around us.
6. We can be impulsive.
Since we never had to compete or negotiate with any siblings, we are used to getting what we want when we want. Now I’m not just talking material things: it could be being the first to play solo in the school band, or setting my sights on that last piece of red velvet cake! So when I see something that I want, I’ll usually want it NOW...which doesn’t bode well with the credit cards!
7. We never like to show weakness or ask for help.
This goes back to point #1, and it also means we often find it extremely difficult to ask for help. Growing up, I felt like I had to carry the weight of the world on my shoulders alone. Not because I had no support (quite the contrary), but because I was determined that I could cope and do it all by myself. So just because we don’t often ask for help, doesn’t mean we will not accept the offer. We’re just too proud for our own good!