What It's Like To Be An Only Child
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What It's Like To Be An Only Child

"Only Child Syndrome" can kiss my left nostril.

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What It's Like To Be An Only Child
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Being the only child is a double-edged sword. It has its advantages, but those walk hand in hand with disadvantages.

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I was raised as an only child, so I know first-hand how it feels to grow up without a sibling. It isn't always fun, but at the same time you can't imagine it any other way. If you're an only child, these things probably apply to you:

1. You’re independent

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F27%2F6360793361435561021549224342_independent%2520type.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=543&h=4c042cd8a695e38f288846170c4df38eb74b406c3c8fc134171ad9ad46feb7a5&size=980x&c=3364575948 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F27%252F6360793361435561021549224342_independent%252520type.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D543%26h%3D4c042cd8a695e38f288846170c4df38eb74b406c3c8fc134171ad9ad46feb7a5%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3364575948%22%7D" expand=1]

If you were raised as an only child, you’re probably used to doing things on your own. For example, building blanket and pillow forts. You don't need to wait for anyone else's permission or company to have a good time.

2. People think you’re selfish and "spoiled rotten"

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F636079493588177636690345608_rude.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=758&h=573e4e35814af57274a19d7e4ce64c8f0b499aaff2dd8673bc9e433271e895b2&size=980x&c=4169535123 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F636079493588177636690345608_rude.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D758%26h%3D573e4e35814af57274a19d7e4ce64c8f0b499aaff2dd8673bc9e433271e895b2%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4169535123%22%7D" expand=1]People seem to think that being an only child means that you get whatever you want and only think of yourself. This is ridiculous. While only children generally do not have to share their toys and don't have to compete with other children for their parents' attention, they are still subject to the rest of the world as well as to their parents' rules and limits. It isn't a golden ticket to candy land.

3. All of your parents' hopes and dreams were on you.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F636079500802498414149370198_expectations.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=905&h=2c74681ccd6f8bdb8e13f7d7ede53bf836d7a89fce59ee39ae76c31a446d7155&size=980x&c=3009785714 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F636079500802498414149370198_expectations.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D905%26h%3D2c74681ccd6f8bdb8e13f7d7ede53bf836d7a89fce59ee39ae76c31a446d7155%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3009785714%22%7D" expand=1]

As an only child, your parents looked to you to prove they were good parents. You had to get the grades they wanted you to get, behave the way they wanted you to, and exceed their expectations or you would risk disappointing them, or worse, getting the “I must be a terrible parent” speech. If your parents were involved in your life, you were likely not free to fail. It’s a lot of pressure for one person.

4. No one shared your childhood

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F27%2F636079334784016863-946177118_I%2520have%2520me.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=700&h=d0baaa2dbaaf055abe3363d50eaaf1e3c85026faf9dbf423d00351978b8fd012&size=980x&c=3712334152 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F27%252F636079334784016863-946177118_I%252520have%252520me.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D700%26h%3Dd0baaa2dbaaf055abe3363d50eaaf1e3c85026faf9dbf423d00351978b8fd012%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3712334152%22%7D" expand=1]Even though no two childhoods are exactly alike, your siblings still know your parents and probably have a good idea of what it was like for you growing up, because they were there to witness it and experience their own portion of it. When you get older, you can reminisce about how dad always lost the remote and yelled at you for it or how mom used to forget to put the stars up on your chore chart. When you’re an only child, you don’t have anyone who understands what it is like to have your parents and you don’t have anyone to reminisce with. This can be lonely, especially if your parents weren’t very nice to you but were friendly and charming to everyone else. There may be no one who believes you.

5. You need more alone time

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F27%2F636079331517600237-1357636154_adore%2520own%2520company.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=518&h=e161d7e8ae1ba6f4303e69c9e20d918b2e2d3bd6e8da2e5f36d0c4a15c65e9ad&size=980x&c=957126065 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F27%252F636079331517600237-1357636154_adore%252520own%252520company.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D518%26h%3De161d7e8ae1ba6f4303e69c9e20d918b2e2d3bd6e8da2e5f36d0c4a15c65e9ad%26size%3D980x%26c%3D957126065%22%7D" expand=1]

As an only child, you likely spent a lot of time by yourself, playing or doing homework. Even if you had a lot of friends and your parents were around often, alone time was inevitable. Now, as an adult, you may find that you need more alone time than your friends in order to feel like yourself. This can cause problems, especially if you’re used to spending the majority of time on your own and aren’t sure how to reconcile that with the demands of a friendship.

6. Having a roommate in college was a challenge

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F6360795479380604571889821088_doesnt%2520share%2520food.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=601&h=496d762e3c2ca87632d07885a9d8c1187a6f109cbda089a7eb9a1b5efa3099d9&size=980x&c=502624353 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F6360795479380604571889821088_doesnt%252520share%252520food.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D601%26h%3D496d762e3c2ca87632d07885a9d8c1187a6f109cbda089a7eb9a1b5efa3099d9%26size%3D980x%26c%3D502624353%22%7D" expand=1]

If you went to college, you probably had to deal with a roommate at some point. This likely posed challenges. For example, one of my roommates didn’t have much of a social life and liked to be in the room when she wasn’t at work or in class. This was not a problem until our schedules aligned in such a way that she was almost always in the room when I was. Even though I really liked her and we had a good relationship, I found myself irritably snapping at her more often because my need for alone time was not met.

7. You have a rich imagination

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Regardless of how often your parents played with you, chances are you logged a ton of solo play hours. This meant that you made the rules, created the characters, and enacted your stories. You are likely still excellent at keeping yourself entertained and may have even found an artistic center.

8. You struggled with sleepovers

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F636079518976914472-2032749626_bad%2520breath.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=344&h=b3dee9c4a0d3dfea12b0a8d31b91d1c6c93a760d7a6e180a719c6d338a401cf9&size=980x&c=3343884509 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F636079518976914472-2032749626_bad%252520breath.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D344%26h%3Db3dee9c4a0d3dfea12b0a8d31b91d1c6c93a760d7a6e180a719c6d338a401cf9%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3343884509%22%7D" expand=1]

Because you weren’t used to sharing your space with another kid, sleepovers may have been difficult for you. Of course, you’re excited for your friends to come over and play, but then they don’t go home until the next day. It was worse if they snored or didn’t ask the rules of the house before doing things.

9. You felt lonely when friends went home afterward

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F636079521335810668-1786673675_all%2520by%2520myself.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=505&h=03f956e20cd59ba1f3e45247b69699ded127b7438d35c513785f08683afdd0e8&size=980x&c=3680801574 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F636079521335810668-1786673675_all%252520by%252520myself.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D505%26h%3D03f956e20cd59ba1f3e45247b69699ded127b7438d35c513785f08683afdd0e8%26size%3D980x%26c%3D3680801574%22%7D" expand=1]

No matter how much you may have struggled with sleepovers, after your friends left, your house felt empty and lonely as, once more, you had only yourself to play with.

10. You dreamed about what it would be like to have a sibling

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F636079524655108097131778451_twins.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=360&h=e9a1c609ab1e988fdd132a6231f00c9b2098d9fe88a76d49829c27bfd348ffac&size=980x&c=168288148 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F636079524655108097131778451_twins.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D360%26h%3De9a1c609ab1e988fdd132a6231f00c9b2098d9fe88a76d49829c27bfd348ffac%26size%3D980x%26c%3D168288148%22%7D" expand=1]As they say, you want what you can’t have. If you were an only child, you likely had “dream siblings.” Brothers and sisters who come with all the benefits of siblinghood and few of the problems. Maybe you really wanted to find your identical twin in a shopping mall or at sleep away camp or find out that your mother was pregnant. Personally, growing up I wanted an older brother and a younger sister.

11. There was no one to cover for you if you messed up

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F6360795653102847301279935164_all%2520my%2520fault.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=245&h=fb36f4a35a8cb951386580588bab619e98251706aa0f3cfb75ebc68528b2c7fb&size=980x&c=948592128 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F6360795653102847301279935164_all%252520my%252520fault.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D245%26h%3Dfb36f4a35a8cb951386580588bab619e98251706aa0f3cfb75ebc68528b2c7fb%26size%3D980x%26c%3D948592128%22%7D" expand=1]Whether you broke your dad’s favorite vase or were out past curfew, there was little you could do to hide from your parents. It sucked, because there was also no one to share the blame with you. If you got in trouble, you suffered the punishment alone. That said, you also learned how hard you could push the envelope before you should stop and tricks to appease your parents and hide things from them. This could come in handy with future bosses.

12. Your parents were strict

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F636079546324462860-555252747_strict%2520parents.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=445&h=a2810612a10c7b7671aa19bef73bd10bbc0fc3b5e2f1f0245e1f61f0633004f6&size=980x&c=1089324955 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F636079546324462860-555252747_strict%252520parents.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D445%26h%3Da2810612a10c7b7671aa19bef73bd10bbc0fc3b5e2f1f0245e1f61f0633004f6%26size%3D980x%26c%3D1089324955%22%7D" expand=1]Because you were their only child, they were likely very protective of you and hard on you. You were all they had, so you knew better than to mess up too badly. If you did, you suffered the consequence of their disappointment. You likely imagine it would have been easier if your parents had other children so that you could share the burden of their expectations.

13. You probably don’t like it when people touch your stuff without permission

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F636079550064787711753296973_no%2520touchy.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=594&h=bbbf94292f67fc15a40ed289cc9285521c8b2599756e8317b34c4a11d30ea40b&size=980x&c=924463549 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F636079550064787711753296973_no%252520touchy.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D594%26h%3Dbbbf94292f67fc15a40ed289cc9285521c8b2599756e8317b34c4a11d30ea40b%26size%3D980x%26c%3D924463549%22%7D" expand=1]

This is the behavior that people commonly cite when claiming that only children are selfish and don’t work well with others. As an only child, you were used to having control over your possessions and your space. Thus, as an adult, you expect to have the same control. Personally, I don’t see a problem with this. If you want to use someone else’s belongings, you should ask first. It’s called common courtesy.

14. Your parents' house is a shrine to you.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F6360795539198972112006010868_shrine%2520to%2520me.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=548&h=5020c73e01920f5812768d5ae2aa31bf291848c929d992aa52299fe5090b4cdb&size=980x&c=2480361112 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F6360795539198972112006010868_shrine%252520to%252520me.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D548%26h%3D5020c73e01920f5812768d5ae2aa31bf291848c929d992aa52299fe5090b4cdb%26size%3D980x%26c%3D2480361112%22%7D" expand=1]Because you have no siblings to compete with, you are in almost every picture on their walls. If you won any awards, those are probably up there too. People with many siblings are often weirded out by the sheer concentration of you.

15. You know yourself really well

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F27%2F6360793329533848022061402829_nothings%2520holding%2520me%2520back.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=802&h=b7c14100f86926e062193a26e5fd5cf71260db73cde724d6b080bb2b60054649&size=980x&c=66289135 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F27%252F6360793329533848022061402829_nothings%252520holding%252520me%252520back.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D802%26h%3Db7c14100f86926e062193a26e5fd5cf71260db73cde724d6b080bb2b60054649%26size%3D980x%26c%3D66289135%22%7D" expand=1]

Because you were often alone, you learned a lot about yourself. There were few, if any, people around influencing you, so you got the opportunity to develop a strong sense of who you are as an individual. This comes in handy when making life decisions—you know how to make yourself happy and are likely to weigh it properly.

[rebelmouse-proxy-image https://media.rbl.ms/image?u=%2Ffiles%2F2016%2F08%2F28%2F636079567556090105-1419994377_only%2520child.gif&ho=https%3A%2F%2Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net&s=270&h=0eda8fd6fd80d42f741543e345592ed72c92724eb4f17fed63c48d91f6596f17&size=980x&c=4168656639 crop_info="%7B%22image%22%3A%20%22https%3A//media.rbl.ms/image%3Fu%3D%252Ffiles%252F2016%252F08%252F28%252F636079567556090105-1419994377_only%252520child.gif%26ho%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Faz616578.vo.msecnd.net%26s%3D270%26h%3D0eda8fd6fd80d42f741543e345592ed72c92724eb4f17fed63c48d91f6596f17%26size%3D980x%26c%3D4168656639%22%7D" expand=1]

Being an only child was not easy. You had to grow up watching everyone fight and play with their siblings and wonder what it must be like to always have someone. You also bore the stigma of "Only Child Syndrome"--a so-called disease that means you are obviously selfish, self-centered, and terrible to be around. *insert eyeroll here* In the end, though, you're okay with being an only child. You wouldn't be your fabulous self without the hard lessons that it taught you.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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