When I began making friends in elementary school, most of us already had one thing in common: we were the only children in our families. As we grew older, almost all of them began having baby sisters or brothers. And I was, well, still an only child, which was surprising seeing as my parents each have about 6-7 siblings.
Eventually, there were the curious minds who’d ask about stereotypes and myths of only children. I’ve had questions if I always wanted to have a sibling or if it gets lonely without a sister or brother or what I do at home if I don’t have any playmates.
Oddly enough, I never minded being an only child, nor did I ever ask to have a younger sibling. I guess what’s helped me fill that lack of sibling presence was my friends. During the school year, I’d have five days of the week with them. On weekends, holidays, and summer vacations, I had my neighborhood friends and school friends who had become closer friends to hang out with.
And any time away from all my friends is spent with my parents or on my own. Did I mind the loneliness? Most times, yes. Sometimes, I liked it. I was able to watch whatever I wanted on TV, sleep without being disturbed, and eat my favorite snacks without sharing.
Just like any other minority in the world, there are the occasional stereotypes regarding only children, as well as the most asked question: What’s it like being an only child? Being an only child isn’t too bad, but it isn’t too great either.
As I can’t speak for every only child in the world, I’m here to tell some of my own personal experiences of being one.
My Experiences As An Only Child
We’re spoiled and don’t like sharing.
I was always confused about what people meant when they said “spoiled.” Was I materialistically spoiled? I’ve asked for things, but I never throw a tantrum if I’m told no. And I never really asked for many things unless they were needed for school or personal health. I did, and still occasionally do, behave like an only child, though. I get upset when things don’t particularly go the way I want them to, and, depending on the situation, I like being the center of attention, even if I get shy. Would I sabotage anyone to get things done my way? Absolutely not. Do I like showing off and feeling superior to others? Heck no. Am I proud of the things I excel at? Of course. Who wouldn’t be? Am I protective of my accomplishments? Definitely. Only child or not, I think everyone deserves the right to be pleased and confident with their skills, knowledge, and talents.
Were there things I didn’t like sharing? Yes. There were/are certain belongings of mine I am highly protective of and wouldn’t let anyone touch or borrow them. Other than that, I don’t mind sharing. There have been moments when I would actually become sad if my other declined my offer of whatever I would share. I don’t have much, but anytime I have something to give, whether a lot or a little, I do my best to share it with others.
We’re lonely and have imaginary friends.
Have I ever felt lonely? Of course. But looking back, I’m grateful for the moments I spent on my own and see it as a way to recharge my introverted self, which I crave a lot as I entered adulthood. And as I’ve mentioned, most of the time, I have my family, friends, neighborhood kids, instructors, aunts, uncles, and others to keep me company. Yes, I have friends. Did my circle become smaller as I grew older? Definitely. But these friendships hold more value to me than I could ever dream of.
I never had imaginary friends growing up. I think it would’ve been something exciting to experience though. It would’ve been a nice change of pace from having conversations with myself (which I completely mastered by my teenage years).
We’re selfish and dependent.
I think everyone is worthy to be selfish about something in their lives. If there’s one main thing that I’m selfish about, it would be my passion. I appreciate and take into consideration the advice and guidance from professionals in my field, as well as family and close friends, especially when they leave the final decision(s) to me. I have little patience for those who begin suggesting ideas that are not in alliance with my passion and are belittling its importance and the decisions I’ve made towards them.
I was definitely dependent on my parents growing up. A lot of decisions that had to be made were ultimately made by them. I only began noticing this behavior during high school when I’d hang out with friends. Whenever they’d ask me to choose or pick something, my initial answers were almost always: I don’t know. Thankfully, I learned to be independent once I began living on my own and it’s helped me understand more of who I am as my own being.
We’re violent and bossy.
I’ve never physically hit any living being. Only child or not, I think that’s appalling for anyone to even think of doing.
I’ve had temper tantrums. I’ve gotten frustrated. Angry, and sometimes to the point of tears. Have I ever thought about throwing things to the wall? Yes. There were even times when I wanted to take up boxing or martial arts as a way to release my frustrations.
Ordering people around to get things done for my benefit? No. Knowing what I want and doing things in certain ways to get them to how I feel content? Yes. Taking lead during group projects and assigning roles so that we can get through it easily and with little to no complications? Yes. Were there moments in my childhood when I would ask people to do things for me? Yes. As an adult, I only ever request things if they are beneficial to at least one other person other than myself. Other than that, if I can find myself doing something on my own, I do it.
I may not have grown up with blood-related siblings, but I am blessed to have parents who dotingly love and support me; friends who became lifetime siblings; challenges that allowed me to understand situations differently; the isolation that guided me to figure things out on my own; and courage to go after my goals in life.
Cheers to all the only children in the world!
If you’re an only child, comment below what you love (or don’t love) about being an only child. If you have siblings, what are the best (and not so best) things about having a sibling(s)?