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Many people make assumptions; one of these includes what it’s like being an only child. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “You must be spoiled,” or “Don’t you get lonely?”

For the longest time, I was jealous that all my friends had a sibling that they could do everything with. I couldn’t tell you how badly I wanted a sibling, but often we don’t get what we want, so we have to work with what we got.

And, well, I’ve got myself. I realized that being an only child was actually a blessing in disguise when I finally learned how to embrace the benefits of having “only child syndrome,” as people would like to call it.

Being an only child taught me the most important skill of all: how to be comfortable being alone. Now, more than ever, in the first few years of adulthood, and consequently your 20s, you find that time for self-love. You take time to reflect and grow on your own.

As an only child, I have appreciated and valued alone time all throughout my life. It’s something that others crave and learn when the hustle of adulthood actually kicks in.

As you grow older, you will realize that after heartbreaks, failures, rejections and hardships, you will have to learn how to be comfortable alone. Sure, there will be people to support you, but ultimately it is up to you to get through it by yourself.

Solitude is a time for reflection, and in a world that is increasingly fast paced and competitive, solitude is meaningful and something to be treasured.

As an only child, you learn that you are your own competition. I grew up having to just compete with myself, and I can’t tell you how much that taught me. Competing with others can bring out the worst in your character, but competing with yourself can bring out the best in you and push you to improve yourself every single day.

I’ve grown up to serve others and be selfless, while simultaneously loving myself whole-heartedly. At an earlier age, I was taught to be completely content being my own best friend first. This quality has given me the strength to never depend on anyone, have expectations from anyone and most importantly, never lose myself in the process of it all.

I am not going to sit here and say that I haven’t done any of those things because let’s be real, we all have done at least one. But, it’s definitely allowed me to quickly bounce back from it all and reassured me that I can get through anything on my own since I have for most of my life. It has also taught me that by loving myself first, I can also love and care for others in the healthiest, most genuine, way possible.

I was grown up to be around adults at such a young age. It’s actually been quite beneficial because I find myself engaging in intellectual conversations. Growing up, every time I have had an issue of some sort, I didn’t have a sibling to resort to so I would always run to my momma. I can proudly say that she is one of my best friends. Being an only child has allowed me to develop an even closer bond with my parents and has given me the opportunity to thrive on my own with their unconditional love and support.

As an only child, who is an extreme extrovert, I have also developed lasting friendships throughout the years. However, the thing is, as most of us grow up, we realize the fewer friends we have, the better. I can say that I consider my close knit group of friends part of my family, since I don’t have any real siblings of my own.

I cherish and am appreciative of what I was given and blessed with, and I only hope that this motivates others to do the same. So, for those of you who do have an actual sibling, consider yourself grateful and embrace the benefits as well! I might be an eccentric only child who sometimes talks to herself, but I’ve learned to laugh and go along with the jokes and sometimes utterly ridiculous comments or assumptions that are made. And, well, for those of you who do manage to be stereotypical and judgmental, all I have to say is “You laugh because I’m different. I laugh because you are all the same.”