And for everyone else too.
A little background about my Indian parents who were super different from the ones I knew and saw around me: My parents never pushed me to do anything. There were no expectations around scoring, they never wanted me to be the ‘class-topper.’ They didn't want me to fulfil their childhood dreams or aspirations. They never compared me with other kids of my generation. Honestly, I don't think they had the time for it. They were too busy trying to make ends meet.
I don't come from ancestral-affluence. Both my parents own and run their own businesses. Everything was worked for, owned and built from scratch through hard work. My parents let me be. This freedom helped me explore my strengths and weaknesses. They were proud of me although I never accomplished anything, and egged me on even when I didn't know I needed it.
Before I begin, single children are not brats.
Some people have said I was pampered and given a lot of attention. When I've denied it, they've said I was brought up with a lack of focus or dedication. I'd like to believe that I had the privilege to make my own choices. I come from a lot of privilege, and I acknowledge it.
If you're pining for a sibling, I don't have suggestions for you. If not, then this might help you break down how you feel about yourself.
If you have siblings, this blog post might give you some perspective on how it is to be a single child. Either way, I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
- Free time: I've been able to use writing as a tool to express myself as a child, and heal as an adult. I've had time to think through situations and develop my craft. I entertained myself. I always know what to do to keep myself motivated.
- No fighting: For the longest time, I didn't know that siblings held grudges, and that this trickled down into friendships. This is the reason I forget an adult fight two minutes after it happens. I apologise, we move on. This is advantageous because I never come across as egoistic. It's easy to be friends with me. Win.
- Highly independent: I may not have taken care of a younger sibling, but I've always learnt to take care of myself. I'm super strong-willed. I'm unyielding and persistent, much to my clients' chagrin. This is why, whenever I'm thrown on the deep-end, I know how to navigate it because no one is going to run to my rescue. I'm street smart and know how to get things done even if it needs a different language, like German for example. This is also why I'm great at negotiations. 😉
- No pressure in relationships: From an early age, I understood that I'm not accountable to anyone else except myself. I make mistakes and learn from them. So my growth is always accelerated. If I choose to move away from a friend, I (thankfully) am not answerable to a sibling who might share similar friendships with those friends. Sigh!
- Absolute privacy: I've never shared clothes or shoes, or even a room — I've always had my privacy. No snooping, no blackmailing, no snitching threats especially when crushes and dates are involved.
But there are pangs.
And a lot at that.
- Companionship: I've never enjoyed the company of anyone elder or younger. I had the company of my grandfather and after he was gone, the company of books and nothing else. I don't know how to be snarky because I've never practiced it. I wish I did, though. I don't hurt someone, physically or emotionally. I feel weird when someone fights and I'm usually loathe to engage in an argument, simply because I'm not used to it.
- Competition: Have you ever cheated in a game? Yes? I haven't. I'm not a goody two-shoes, I'm completely ok to lose. Call me a loser — I'm going to shrug it off because it's not something I've heard growing up. I don't believe in proving myself to anyone, which is sometimes mistaken for a lack of drive or knowledge. 🙄
- Preempting the future: I've never got home and exclaimed ‘Oh! the remote is mine’ or ‘I'm using the bathroom first’ or ‘DIBBS on that!’ The first time my roommate did this, I was confused and just said 'Ok.' When I learnt that this was normal practice among siblings, I laughed so much I wished I had one. But that's a bit of a problem. I can't preempt problems and work out solutions for possible issues that may crop up in a future, especially in relationships. 🤷🏽♀️
- Dealing with judgement: ‘Wow, so your parents are doting, aren’t they?’, or ‘you’re so lucky, you get whatever you ask for.’ Some friends bullied me for not having siblings because I wasn't a caretaker, a carer, or a sharer. I was labelled selfish. That phase was the saddest for me. But I've since learnt that my parents didn't have a choice to be biased, which has changed how I view myself and everyone else around me. But the judgment doesn't stop!
- A constant state of loneliness: I'm the sole bearer of responsibilities. The older we all get, the heavier this feels, because I wonder if I'd be able to work out the mechanics of taking care of my parents. I don't have a sibling with whom I can strategise tasks and share concerns. A partner is not the same as a sibling even if they have the same experiences. Single children like to be alone, but the feeling of loneliness comes with the price of peace of mind when parents are involved.
I reiterate. Not all single children are brats.