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

April 10th is National Sibling Day! However, I can’t relate to the cute sibling posts that flood my timeline because I grew up an only child. I know there is a lot of stigma that comes with being an only child, but many of us grew up in different circumstances. We aren’t all the bratty, entitled antisocial weirdos that people stereotype us to be. Today, I am here to share how being an only child has shaped me. 

Many people are extremely close with their siblings, while others wouldn’t hesitate to trade their siblings for a piece of bubble gum. People always tell me how they wished they were an only child too. However, I have a love-hate relationship with it. Simple things that people with siblings take for granted are sometimes the things that I yearn for the most. 

Photo of young brunette woman wearing a backpack and walking down a street alone shot from behind
Photo by Karel Rakovsky from Picjumbo
Of course, being an only child comes with its luxuries. Growing up, I was extremely close to my parents because it was just them and I. I was cared for, loved and always supported. Technically, I am the favorite child by default because there is no competition. Even though I had no siblings, I had very protective cousins to make up for it who I often saw on weekends. In school, I think being an only child caused me to be more introverted. I loved being with my friends, but I also learned to be comfortable with being alone. It may sound a little lonesome but I created my own fun in any way I could. I lived in my imagination and was able to escape into any fantasy I desired through books, music and TV. I truly was the main character. Back then, I thrived off of Harry Potter, Disney Channel Marathons and an incredibly strong love of boy bands. 

Being an only child has made me incredibly independent and self-motivated. I can rely on myself to get things done effectively on my own terms. Overall, I am grateful that I had a great childhood with privileges that others may not have been as fortunate to have.

However, there are aspects of being an only child that I’m not as fond of. For example, I wish I had someone to share my childhood with. Being an only child can feel like having all the fun board games but not having enough people to play. I imagine it would be nice to relate to someone from my same background, to reminisce on past memories or discuss just how embarrassing dad’s dancing is. Being an only child, I get every dad joke, chore and lecture to myself. I’d like to have someone to help me out or at least split the blame. Throughout my childhood, my parents were strict and I didn’t go out with friends as often as I’d wanted. Therefore, it would be just the adults and I. To be honest, hanging out with a bunch of people who don’t know how to access the internet and who nap every twenty minutes isn’t necessarily my definition of fun.

board game
Photo by Folu Eludire from Unsplash
Also, as an only child I have always felt as if I am my parents’ only hope. As a first generation Black woman, I feel an immense pressure to succeed and being an only child just emphasizes that. I can’t be both the family disappointment and the golden child at once. Therefore, I consider myself an overachiever because there is no backup child.

Nowadays, being back in my childhood home due to the global pandemic has really made me reflect on my childhood. My social life has been damaged. I find myself resorting to my old ways of trying to cure my boredom and relieve my stress alone in my room. It’s just my parents and I as usual. However, the difference is I’ve grown up immensely as college has given new perspectives and experiences that I’ve never thought of before.

I’ll never have a clue what it would be like to have a sibling. That’s something that I’ll leave up to my imagination just as the people with siblings wonder what it’s like to be an only child. Being an only child has its tradeoffs, but I wouldn’t trade growing up the way I did for anything. Today, I see myself as a very driven and dedicated person.  I’m thankful that being an only child has shaped me into someone who I’m proud of today. 

See you on National Only Child Day!

Kayla Atkinson

UC Irvine '23

Hello everyone! My name is Kayla Atkinson and I am psychology and sociology double major. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, binging Netflix and reading a good book. I hope you enjoy my work!