An old friend and I always joked about having only child syndrome. It would come up after an infamous “symptom” surfaced, like being annoyed with an overabundance of noise in the house. For reals, life as an only child is the life. You get your parents undivided attention, you always get shotgun, and you get essentially whatever you want. You never have to fight with a sibling or two over sharing the TV, or picking the vacation activities, or using the bathroom first. Honest to goodness, I never pondered my life as an only child in a deep way until a year or so ago. Why would I? It was so ideal.
But it’s also a double edged sword. On one hand, you get the independence and attention any child would want. On the other hand, though, this independence can get out of hand.
Again, I hadn’t given much critical thought as to how being an only child impacted my personality and habits. I always assumed that I was naturally gregarious because it was genetically transmitted from my mother to me (she is seriously the friendliest person I know). And I didn’t like to talk to people about my problems because I thought they wouldn’t want to hear them. It turned out to be a vicious cycle, one that I wish I had taken note of sooner.
This isn’t a dissertation about how lonely it is to be an only child. I definitely think that I do not have any siblings for a reason, that I was truly meant to be an only child and to grow from the experience. However, I can probably attribute some not so good habits to it. I have a tendency to not ask others for help. While I’ll sit and listen to anyone when they are having a bad day or need a shoulder to cry on, I have to wrestle with myself to do the same. I’ve grown so accustomed to dealing with things on my own that turning to others for help seems unnatural to me.
I also have a bond with my closest friends that transcends typical friendships. I see these people as my adopted siblings, and I would do anything for them. Having their trust and their acceptance alone are integral to my well-being. This has inadvertently caused me to be extremely vigilant when meeting new people: I need their approval. It might sound kind of pathetic, but I feel so sad if I do not make a good first impression or find out someone doesn’t like me. Missing out on the opportunity to adopt another sibling is always disheartening.
Anywho, I hope this wasn’t depressing! I have noticed these only child syndrome symptoms a lot over the past few weeks, after meeting a slough of new people and receiving some not so good news. I’ll have to go bake something and then write about it 😉