Growing up, being an only child felt pretty normal. I actually never thought much about it because it was pretty easy to make short-term friends and my parents showered me with attention 24/7. I was always spoiled with toys but never a spoiled brat (though I had my moments, duh). I knew how to share and how to be polite and I was generally smart in school. I had the best parents who knew not to give into my every demand and who taught me that learning and exploring was more important than material items. I was always painfully shy from the start and to this day, I'm not sure if that stems simply from being an only child (I'm gonna go ahead and say it does). I was a baby and an adult rolled into one. I knew that most kids could be nice but some were just mean and I didn't know how to handle them (I think back on it now and hate myself for always being such a dumb little pushover). I never quite fit in with my peers most definitely due to being so shy and overprotected. I was always the kid who never said a word especially around adults who were generally so big and scary and I was abnormally intimidated by them. Subconsciously, I became a bit of a hermit and as I've gotten older I've become only too aware of how much being an only child has affected me.
These days, I often struggle. It's 10x as difficult to strike up a conversation with strangers (or even people I haven't seen in a while) but not so much because I'm painfully shy (I'm happy to report I am only shy now, not painfully so) but probably mostly because I just don't feel that people are going to stick around long enough and definitely not forever (as horrible as that sounds). I can't just pick up the phone and rant about my day to someone. There's no one who I could call and tell my happy news to who would be equally happy for me. I have no one who I could call up at 3am if I felt distressed about something (other than my parents, of course- I'd be so lost without them). Friends seem to come and go. Even most family members keep their distance probably because they all have their own siblings and kids to be with.
I've become so independent and so self-reliant and I can't really relate to people when they speak of their best friend and how much they rely on them emotionally or how much fun they have around them. These days, I realize more than ever that mostly everyone has a sibling and those that do are someday going to have nieces and nephews. I can't relate to anything like that. I mean, I try to. But when it comes down to it, I'm an only child and I'm always going to feel a little bit different.
Don't get me wrong, I honestly wouldn't change my being an only child. I am mostly confident, determined and ambitious because of it. Thankfully, no one was ever really around to bring me down (except for the bullies in 3rd grade) or compete with me so really, as far as I'm concerned, anything I want to achieve is possible. I don't feel special or entitled. I mostly feel alone, empowered and capable. I am super weak but almost just as strong. I think I'm going to be okay.
Please feel free to share your only child or sibling related experiences below...