Growing up as an only child had its advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, I was my parents’ favourite by default. On the other hand, I lacked key socialization that my peers with siblings got. I grew up largely on my own. Oftentimes, I find myself wondering how different my life would have been with siblings.
You see, despite being loved, I grew up incredibly lonely.
I spent most of my free time escaping into books and reading my way through my local library. When I wasn’t at school, I was at home alone looking for ways to pass the time. I didn’t have siblings to take care of or to spend time with, and as a result, I grew to be self-reliant. And yet, still, I was lonely.
When you’re an only child, you don’t grow up sharing experiences with others. You’re on your own and you have to figure out a lot of social cues alone, like sharing. I didn’t grow up having to share, be it toys or attention, as at home I was the only one. When I got to school, I wasn’t alone, and all my friends had grown up having to share in some capacity, so they knew how to do so properly. I was a little behind on that curve, so when conflicts arose, I was alone again. Obviously, I learned to share just like all the other kids, but small things like that, social cues I’d never had to learn before, made me feel isolated.
Once I was out of daycare and able to stay home alone, I was spending a few hours every day having to occupy myself. Sure, I could do homework, but no kid wants to do homework. I spent hours of my life in a house alone. The silence was, as they say, deafening. Growing up spending hours on end alone isn’t exactly fun. It was inherently lonely, and I couldn’t just call up a friend. They had lives and siblings and things to do.
I grew up lonely even though I had dozens of friends. That’s just the reality of being an only child. Yes, you’re close to your parents and you do get spoiled, but you also spend large amounts of time entertaining yourself. When my friends talk about their childhoods, they talk about the good times they had with their siblings and how they love and hate them. I talk about amassing large amounts of library fines because I’d take out seven books a week just to keep busy.
Loneliness was a huge part of my upbringing. That’s just become a fact of life. I was a lonely, only child. As much as I used to beg my parents for siblings, and believe me I did, I wouldn’t change a thing now. My loneliness made me who I am today, and it taught me a lot. Plus, I found friends who for all intents and purposes are close enough to siblings.