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Childhood: Perspectives from an Only Child

I find that the question of siblings is almost immediately brought up when meeting someone new.

What’s your name? What do you do? How many other times did you parents produce offspring?

And for me, it’s a pretty short answer.

None. Only child.

Usually, this gets a fairly big reaction. Probably because of all the articles discussing the stereotypes associated with only children. And since I outwardly display a lot of traits attributed to this kind of upbringing, i.e. assertiveness, maturity, and slightly introverted, I get a lot of “Oh that makes sense!”.

But honestly I never really minded the dismissiveness, because for me I liked how I was raised. During the fall I temporarily rented the guest room of a family friend who had two young children. And it really made me re-evaluate some of my opinions about growing up solo. So here are three positive and three negative things about being an only child.

Positive:

  1. Quiet Time: I grew up in a quieter household. My mom insists I was a very insistent child, but not very loud. Apparently, I took that inside voice rule to be my one law. My parents very rarely yelled at me for any reason, so as an adult I really value those moments I get to be contemplative. Summers spent in the company of my extended family who had multiple kids running around I noticed there was almost never silence, screaming was just a normal part of the dynamic. I still get startled by people yelling.
  2. Attention: I am literally my mother’s entire world. I know this because she tells me some form of I love you in almost every text, phone call, and interaction we have. We talk every day and there’s probably nothing I feel really uncomfortable discussing with her. She’s always so patient and supportive. I attribute this close bond to the fact we share many of the same interests and temperament, but I acknowledge that it probably has something to do with being the sole object of her focus as a parent.
  3. Finances: Let’s get controversial. Kids are expensive. And one of the perks of being the only child is being the sole dependent. I grew up in a great amount of comfort and indulgence, mostly due to the fact my parents only had to worry about my wants and needs. It would have been impossible to attend the kind of summer camps, family vacations, and go to university debt-free like I did if my parents had to consider another child in the mix. Plus I was an only grandchild on my dad’s side so guess who got all that sweet Christmas/birthday money? (Save that cash, kids. Comes in handy.)

And now let’s get to the flip side. Why it’s not always the best.

Negatives:

  1. Social: Being so comfortable with playing by yourself does have some downsides. It means I take a little while to warm up to some people and I’m less likely to just go out spontaneously. I’m pickier about who I spend my time with and notice I don’t tolerate people’s flaws as much as people from big families. That compulsion to be social just isn’t part of who I am. It takes a lot of extra effort to counteract this.
  2. Adult Support: My mother has siblings (my fabulous aunt and uncles) and has always been the baseline for how I imagine it would be like to have grown up with siblings. My mom and my aunt in particular really depend on each other when commiserating and gossiping. I feel like I have that kind of closeness in many friendships, but it would be nice to complain/celebrate family drama and memories with another person who gets it.
  3. Children someday: I know it’s strange to discuss kids in your early twenties. I definitely don’t plan on having any til I’m past 30, but I do want to be a mom someday. However, I’m convinced I could only handle one child, two would be a stretch, three would be insane. Like the idea of having more kids than I have hands terrifies me. If my insanely amazing mom could only handle one, how could I ever have more than that? Sometimes I worry if I’ll have a partner who wants a huge family that it could be a deal breaker. But for who I am and how I imagine my lifestyle to be for my family/ child: one doesn’t seem like the loneliest number.

What was your sibling situation like? Did you enjoy being a sibling/only child? Do you ever think about how many kids you’d want to have?

While you were blogging…

Three things happened since the last I posted.

  1. I secured a job as a Junior Art Director in an agency that works with Consumer Package Goods. Many that are probably in your pantry right now.
  2. I have an apartment overlooking a small park that I love and am so grateful to have found in my price range.
  3. Neither of these is in NYC. In fact, they’re both in Connecticut.

Surprise! To both you and me.

I thought about deleting all the posts (the very few admittedly) I had on this site and start anew. Pretend my life and all the turns it has taken in the past few months were parts of a planned route. That somehow it had always meant to be this way.  But then I decided that I don’t think that I’d ever want to start over, in life or online. So instead I think I’d rather start this new chapter with the statement that life is a great many things, but it is usually unpredictable. Some might wonder why I didn’t turn down the CT job, stick it out another three months, and try to find a job in the “greatest city in the world.” I’ve never been one to put my life or finances on hold on the hopes of strangers, so not living there now is no great matter. The fact that at 22 years old I am employed in a job I went to school for, that I have no outstanding student loan creditors coming for my head, and that NYC is but an hour or so train journey away is the only reply I think I’d need.

Another post will go more into detail the many lessons I learned in my journey to get here, including some rather valuable tips about apartment hunting. But for now I’m mesmerized by the snow still falling outside, sticking to the ground like large blankets. Back in Georgia, it’s said to be almost six inches. I’d say we’ve almost received as much here. It’s a strange occurrence that Connecticut should have so much in common with my home state.

I hope it continues.

 

A 2017 Youtube Odyssey: Web Series To Watch When You Don’t Know What You Want To Watch

Sometimes I just want something in the background while I design or try to organize stuff. Strangely I find music distracting so I usually put on some kind of video or netflix. But often I don’t want to be sucked into a high-concept sci-fi western or a murder mystery thriller’s season-long arcs, I just want something light (like entertainment sorbet).

These are just some of the series I keep coming back to:

1. Lizzie Bennet Diaries:  

Emmy award-winning retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Basically, Elizabeth Bennet has a vlog and most of her life seems to conveniently happen while she’s filming. Just go with it. Stick around to see the amazing chemistry within the cast (including one of the best Darcy’s I’ve seen) and the ingenious ways they modernize the source material.

2. Worth It:

Buzzfeed’s Steven Lim really struck gold with this simple concept of comparing three things (food, hotels, apartments, etc.) at three drastically different prices to find out what’s really worth it. I watch it for the great banter between him and his co-host Andrew (my grumpy cat man twin) and the chance to droll over the most expensive stuff they try. It’s like HGTV-I can’t say why I can watch it for three hours straight, but I don’t  really need to.

3. Nothing Much To Do:

Another great modernization adaptation. Much Ado About Nothing is, in my opinion, Shakespeare’s best comedy (fight me) so I’m almost guaranteed to love it in any form. But when a group of amazing young female filmmakers re-set this play in a New Zealand high school, it somehow improves upon it with the youthful exuberance now embued in every laughable turn. Multiple characters in the story have vlogs and jumping between them is POV gold.

4. VGHS:

Probably the best thing Rocket Jump has ever made, VGHS is the Harry Potter-esque story of an amateur gamer making it into a big-time gaming academy and his struggles in trying to stay there. Set in the not so distant future the show has colorful characters and great CGI effects.

 

5. Buzzfeed Unsolved:

Another great series from the media giant follows amateur paranormal-hunters/detectives Ryan (the open-minded ghost believing conspiracy junkie) and Shane (the dry realist with a logical answer to everything). Everything from haunted ships to true crimes is looked into in these thorough ~20-minute long episodes and the production quality only seems to improve with time. Plus their back and forth narrations over these dark subjects sometimes crack me up so much I almost feel guilty.

6. Baking With Layton:

While not much of a cook myself, I find the real appeal of this series by British YouTuber Daniel J Layton to be in the wacky collection of fellow entertainers he has joining him in the kitchen. The friendships are real and the haphazard way they all try to help with the recipes or joke around makes you feel like a part of the fun. If you’re a fan of any video makers across the pond it’s likely they’ll show up at one point or another.

Let me know what you think of these or if you have any more to add.