At this later stage in my life, I’ve realized that I am probably suffering from an affliction most commonly known as Only Child Syndrome. You can read about it here. I’m going to talk about how it affects me in my personal capacity. I cannot speak for others and will try not to generalize.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this on my blog before, but I was adamant that I have more than one child. When I was younger I didn’t want to get married or have children. As time went on that changed and I was dead set on having more than one. It was actually my condition for starting a family in the first place. If we have one, we will have to have another. I drew my reasons for this from my own childhood experience. Both my parents worked outside the home and I was often left home alone (when I was old enough). It was a very lonely way to grow up. One would think that you learn to love to spend time with yourself, but for me the opposite is true.
I am also an extrovert by nature. When I am around others I feed off the energy of those I’m surrounded by and being around my friends or colleagues brings out my personality. I do not do well on my own. When I am alone I withdraw and feel despondent. So I guess the first symptom of Only Child Syndrome I experience is co-dependence. I need the company of other adults in order to feel good and to stimulate me. Children do not do quite as good a job at this. Adult company in the least dirty sense is required to get my juices flowing.
Another symptom I experience is that I am a total attention ho. I always want to be the center of attention, the favourite or the one who is preferred. This is likely a more obvious consequence of being an only child as one would assume that an only child received a lot of attention while growing up. That isn’t necessarily true as I don’t remember specifically spending time with my parents, but rather spent a lot of time alone and occupying myself. I also remember often visiting my parent’s friends and being the only child there. This leads to problems for me when I am in a group of several people and I feel sidelined or excluded. I will get straight up pissy about it.
While I have issues with co-dependency, I also have a strong sense of independence. I know it sounds like a contradiction, but it is very difficult for me to ask for help. I will rather struggle on my own to be okay, than to hold my hand out. While I can accept help when it is offered, I would rather not ask at all. I am fortunate to have friends that offer help when they see I am struggling, which really makes a difference in my life when I’m being stubborn and not reaching out.
I realized being single was going to be difficult for me because of my predisposition to feeling the way I do if I’m not getting enough attention or do not have company. At times it has been harder than I thought it would be, but again I have been fortunate to have wonderful friends that support me and visit me often.
I am also inherently jealous. It’s an ugly quality to have, I know, but I suppose all my insecurities only fuel my jealous nature. It’s bad. Really bad. To the point where once I’ve had a boyfriend, when we are over that’s it for him. Even if I do not want him in any way, shape or form, nobody else is allowed to have him. Perhaps this is a manifestation of Only Child Syndrome because I didn’t have to share my toys? Look, I’m not saying people are toys, I’m just saying perhaps I don’t share well with others. My friends do not escape this. If my friends spend time alone together without me and I was not invited or included, I’ll do my nut.
I always want to be a priority, I always want to be considered and I always need to feel like I am valued. This isn’t unique to singletons in my opinion, but the way I was raised certainly shaped who I am today. Sometimes I think I have a sense of entitlement, but feel I don’t deserve anything from anyone.
Are you an only child? Do you think you suffer from Only Child Syndrome? How were your decisions around having a family shaped by your childhood?