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Let’s Talk About Being an Only Child

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McMaster chapter.

Being an only child can come with a bad reputation. Trust me, I have heard every myth and disadvantage in the book. Some of my favourites include only children being anti-social, lonely, awkward, or selfish people. One may simply refer to these descriptions as ‘only child syndrome.’ Personally, I beg to differ. We don’t stick out like a sore thumb – most of the time you can’t identify the only child in a group. That being said, I am here to end the labels and to share my honest experience. Here are three truths about being an only child: 

  1. Independent Not Lonely 

Yes, only children spend a lot of time alone. It’s not sad, it’s normal. Whether it was entertaining myself with Barbies as a child or reading a book while waiting for my parents to come home, alone time became part of my routine. When you have no siblings to rely on, you become very independent. The older I get the more thankful I become for this early independence. For example, I appreciate and enjoy having mouse moments – sitting alone in public, watching Netflix, and enjoying my food while the world continues around me. These are not embarrassing or awkward moments, rather refreshing and wholesome as the quiet time allows me to reset my social battery. But don’t get me wrong, I do love being around others. In fact, I personally think only children cherish their friends the most because they are the only people we will have forever. 

  1. Adults are Friends Too 

While only children do have friends and youthful interactions, they are likely to spend more alone time with adults than people who have siblings. For instance, going on vacation, attending events, or eating dinner means adult conversations are constantly around you. Simply, their wisdom, experiences, and maturity have a great impact on your life at an early age. As a result, you become very good and comfortable at talking with adults, which is a great skill to have. And you are likely to become best mates with your parents as it is always just the three of you! 

  1. The Fear That Slowly Creeps In

The life of an only child comes with amazing positive experiences. However, there is a sad aspect that many sibling-less people can relate to. That being, at some point in your life you will be completely alone as your family members pass away. This scary thought definitely makes me wish I had siblings so we could go through it together. Perhaps this is why so many of us cherish friends or wish to have big families in the future so that we are never truly left alone.

While the only child syndrome label might never disappear, perhaps the true reality of this life will be appreciated and recognized in more ways. But remember, every experience is unique, so never assume that all only children are alike!

Chelsea Ogden

McMaster '23

Chelsea is a 2023 Communications Studies graduate from McMaster University. She is passionate about writing and looks forward to pursuing her goal of working in the entertainment and consumer industry as a public relations practitioner. Her Campus has provided her with the opportunity to have a creative outlet and to gain experience as a writer.