I’m an only child— yeah, “one of those.” Growing up (and especially in college), whenever someone became aware of my solitary status, the conversation would go a little something like this:
Only children get a bad rap – people seem to think that they get whatever they want, demand attention, or that they don’t work well with others. I get where these ideas come from. Sure, they may not be the greatest at sharing and they’re used to having things their way, but only children can be completely well-adjusted and perfectly socialized too. Everybody, not just solo children, can be selfish or spoiled at times, am I right? (I am) I mean, I can think of plenty of assholes in the world who weren’t raised as an only child. Obviously, what’s more important than having siblings or not, than being the youngest or oldest comes down to parenting and the environment in which we were nurtured in.
Growing up the eldest, the middle child, and the baby all in one definitely had its pros and cons. Of course, I experienced my moments of down time and loneliness, but I’m not going to lie, there were some pretty awesome perks, too— the gifts under the Christmas tree were all for me and I didn’t have to share a damn thing or compete with anyone. But as much as I loved being doted on and “spoiled,” the one gift that I never received was a built-in playmate/partner-in-crime to grow up with. I desperately wished for a brother to look after me or a sister to share clothes and shoes with. To this day, I still get a little #Jelly on National Sibling Day – siblings have a special bond that just can’t be found anywhere else.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve realized that many of my best traits (and some of my worst) come from being raised as an only child. Despite being told throughout my life that I suffer from “Only Child Syndrome,” I no longer wish to defend it— I am who I am. Thankfully, becoming a mother has helped me to overcome a lot of the “problems” that I believe stemmed from my only childhood.
For me, one of the best things about growing up without a sibling was that it gave me a deep sense of independence. I learned how to be my own best friend and to relish in my own company. I can’t speak for all, but here are 20 signs that you probably grew up an only child:
1. Everything you did was a huge deal.
You were the only apple in your parents’ eyes, so every little milestone and accomplishment was like a national holiday.
2. You were sheltered.
You were definitely babied more than your peers (I had an enforced bedtime of 10PM until I was 17). Your parents were super protective and your innocence was preserved due to missing out on a crash course in adolescent misadventures from an older sibling, so you had to figure out a lot of stuff on our own.
3. You were/are insanely close with your parents.
Your parent(s) were your homies and you had them ALL to yourself. But sometimes there was a fine line between being super close and a little too enmeshed.
4. Your parents’ home was basically a creepy shrine of you.
With no other kids to brag about, your parents literally hoarded every little thing you ever did and proudly displayed those pictures, awards, trophies, certificates, etc., basically everywhere.
5. You REALLY like your personal space.
You weren’t a fan of people touching your stuff or being in your space. Also, too much social time wore you out and you needed your alone time in order to recharge.
6. You had a harder time leaving the nest.
It was a struggle for you to psychologically detach yourself from your parents. I was fortunate enough to attend a Big Ten university for college that was 5 minutes away from home — in which I had to be forced to live in the dorm.
7. Speaking of moving out, you were an awful roommate.
Obviously, living in close quarters with a stranger wasn’t easy for you because you’ve never had to share your personal space growing up.
8. You were mature for your age.
You were the ultimate third wheel to your parents. So, from an early age, you were expected to act, speak, think, and engage like a little adult.
9. You were stubborn AF.
Compromising was hard for you since you never had to “play nice” with any siblings. (Something I’m still working on)
10. Sharing wasn’t your thing.
From clothes to food to everything in-between, the word share was hardly in your vocabulary. You always had everything shiny and new, so you preferred to keep your stuff (and food) to yourself.
11. The pressure was real.
You were your parents’ only shot at having the “perfect” child which basically meant all of their hopes and fears were pinned on YOU.
12. You didn’t handle teasing well.
You never had a sibling to help thicken your skin and missed out on all the rough and tumble, so you were a little more sensitive than the rest…
13. You were spoiled.
Since you didn’t have to share your parents’ attention or resources with anyone else, you pretty much got whatever you wanted when you wanted it. #SorryNotSorry
14. You knew how to entertain yourself.
Without having a built-in playmate, you really had no choice but to develop a rich imagination, engulf yourself in other worlds, and learn to feel an overall comfort with being alone.
15. You had an imaginary friend at some point.
Thanks to not having any siblings, you had the most realistic make-believe friends ever!
True story: I actually created an entire family – I had two sisters and one big brother (I imagined their names, personalities, and our family dynamics). In middle school, I had “Bubba,” who even my closest friends embraced.
16. Your BFFs and cousins were basically your siblings.
As cliché as it sounds, it’s the truth— they provided the companionship you always believed a sibling would have been able to offer.
17. Conflict made you anxious.
You were an easy target – you never experienced sibling rivalry or had the chance to master your comeback skills on anyone at home. As a result, you tried to avoid conflict as much as possible.
18. You didn’t have anyone to deflect attention or blame onto.
If you were up to no good, your parents pretty much knew it. There was just no way to escape that broken vase or the red nail polish that spilled on the white couch.
19. You envied bigger families.
You always promised yourself that you’d marry into a large family and create a soccer team of your own one day. (Who was I kidding? I stopped after having two kids)
20. You were the favorite child.
Well, this one is pretty obvious. 💁🏻