Being The Only Child Personal Essays

A lot of people think that being an only child is the best possible situation one could ever be in. But I feel that people with that kind of a belief are a bit one-sided in their way of thinking. I mean, yes, being an only child does have its nice points but it also has its bad ones. In this world, everything is about balance and this is no exception.

Being an only child means that you'll have no problem whatsoever regarding attention. One call and your parents will be at your side. They'll always be there to guide and teach you. There won't come a time when you come home crying and nobody will be there to comfort you because your younger sister needs help with her homework. Nor will a time come that you can't express yourself at home anymore because you need to stay happy for them since they're handling so many other problems from your siblings. There won't come a time when you really need to talk with your mom but you can't because she's still busy taking care of the baby and your five-year-old brother who tripped and got himself hurt. You'll have more freedom. They won't care much as to what you do, so long as you don't get hurt. You'll always be the center of attention. You'll always have what you want. Never will a time come that you won't have the best or the most expensive item there is. Because you're the only one being supported. You're the only one they have to take care of. You're the only one they have to love and waste twenty or thirty years of their life on.

But let's look at the yang. You won't have any siblings. No one to talk to. No one to laugh with. No one to make your childhood a lot more memorable. There won't be anyone to teach you your homework when you can't solve it. No one to scold you and yell at you just so you can learn. No one to sacrifice their time and energy just so they can see you smile. No one who will try and understand you and what you're going through. No one to share and keep secrets from. No more mystery. No more fights. No more laughs. No more life. All your childhood is going to be spent sitting alone at home in front of the t.v. wishing that the house wasn't so quiet and hollow. You're going to spend fifteen years of your life trying to fill that empty void that's always present in your home and heart. Fifteen years of silent eating at the dinner table. Fifteen years of writing in journals and diaries trying to find someone to talk to. Fifteen years wondering how it would've been if you had a sibling who could have filled that barren emptiness.

And after all that, I'm glad I have two older siblings. I'm glad I was fortunate enough to have been granted two supportive people who served as both inspirations and adversaries in more ways than one. I'm glad I'm not an only child.

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The most common question I was asked as an only child growing up was, not surprisingly, "Don't you wish you had a brother or sister?" And for as long as I can remember, I've always answered "no" without any hesitation. "You'll always have someone to play with, you'll have a lifetime support system," they said. Although enticing, I never longed for a sibling and I'm sure my parents were thrilled I never asked. (Mom and Dad, you're welcome.)

In my current early adult years, it's not unusual for people to be surprised at my sibling-less life. I'm told that I don't seem like a single child, which is most often defined when I ask as spoiled, attention-hungry, self-centered, and dependent. I guess it's better than getting the reaction, "Oh, that makes sense," but the fact is, I believe that growing up alone contributed to the absence of those traits.

It was never about the attention nor not having to share — those weren't the reasons I never cared for a brother or sister. I kept busy with neighbors and friends and I didn't mind the moments I was alone. I always had quite the imagination so it wasn't hard to get creative and I think I've always been able to appreciate time to myself — even as a child. My tripod of a family was fulfilling enough and I would cringe inside when others criticized or questioned my mother's decision to stick with one. Yes, an older sibling would have been able to watch over me and my future children would have aunts and/or uncles like the loving ones I grew up around. But I believe that my strong independence today can easily be attributed to me growing up as an only child.

I like that I was able to forge my own path rather than live in the shadows of someone else, and that I had to learn things on my own as I went. Plus due to some fantastic parenting, I learned to be self-sufficient at a very young age, which has made me totally fine as a now-22-year-old, still pretty-fresh-out-of-college woman who lives alone in a new city.

I was always fascinated by the fact that those with siblings had a unique bond with somebody else in their family other than a parent, cousin, or relative; a blood relationship with a peer almost — something that I will never be able to experience myself. I've never really been envious of my friends for that, but I do understand the many joys and perks that come with having a brother or sister. I probably wouldn't have gotten as bored at times and would've always had a readily available confidant. However, I'm thankful for my solo upbringing.

So next time someone pressures you to have more children or gives you crap about being an only child yourself, tell them that I turned out just fine — and your child will too!

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Nicole Yi

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