Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Only Child Syndrome

Me after being invited out for a night on the town.
I possess the strange ability to both desire and be annoyed by social interaction all at once. I sometimes find myself declining amiable invitations for no other reason than to go home and listen to a record. Or write a blog post. Or just watch Dawson’s Creek on Netflix.

But, I mean, I still want the invite. Just because I said no the first 12 times the person asked, doesn’t give them the right to forget about me or exclude me. It’s like, seriously--don’t be a jerk.

As I listened to “Bratty B” I thought about what it is to be an adult brat. Do you transition from toy possessiveness to emotional possessiveness? Do you graduate from temper tantrums to silent treatments? Do you just go around calling people jerks when they don’t keep putting themselves out there while you remain complacent and unmoving?

I am an only child.

I feel like I use this fact as a scapegoat for most of my idiosyncrasies. I don’t relate to my peers? Oh, that’s because I’m an only child. My paralyzing self awareness? Well, I didn’t have any brothers or sisters. My egotistical yet somehow deeply insecure internal monologue? Clearly it’s because I spent the majority of my youth around adults.

It’s probably safe to say that most zero-sibling kids develop a certain kind of independence at a young age that allows them the freedom to do what they want, how they want. Without peers there to dictate or skew your plans, you’re pretty much given creative liberty with your free time.

As a result, I usually think my ideas are awesome. With constant reassurance from my parents (remember, no other kid to give overwhelming and possibly undeserved praise to) I come programmed with an ego and self-indulgence I can’t deny. I mean, why else would I think anyone would be interested in reading a blog post about me and my musings about me written by me while I listen to a song I like that inspired me to write about me? Fortunately though, the maturity I acquired early on from being an only child equips me with the self-awareness to write that last sentence.

However, the exclusivity of admission into my little world has created a person who treads lightly around others--an oddly humbled girl riddled with paranoia that people won‘t see past the quirkiness. Now that I’m aware my parents and close friends are simply expected to indulge and support me, I can never truly trust if I’m actually worthy of the praise I sometimes receive. So as I let others in at a pace that can only be measured on microscopic levels, I worry about what they will think. But then don’t care.

But then might still secretly pout a little if they care in a way I don’t want them to. Because ultimately, I’m still sort of a bratty b--something I conveniently blame on the only child syndrome.

But we can still be friends; I promise I won't be such a brat.


  1. Eh, being an only child had it's benefits too. I was rocking a PlayStation when my cousins had a SuperNES.

    I am inclined to agree with you overall though. I like the company of myself, and while I am not anti-social, I am not disappointed at not being included in local happenings.

    It's also important to note that certain aspects of being an only child are blown out of proportion. While the praises were high, the scoldings were just as bad, since you had nobody else to draw your parent's attention away. When the hammer came down, it wasn't gonna be light or miss.

  2. True. You're also the only shot they have at raising a successful kid, so the fear of disappointment is sometimes overwhelming. At least it is for me.