Experiences as a single child

Till very recently, I thought that your childhood is not as big of a factor in how you view the world and interact with it. I had no reason for this thought, but a recent Reddit thread got me thinking about my interactions with the world and myself.

Growing up, I always thought that single-child households are the norm. I’ve made a lot of friends over the years going to college, working and then for graduate school in a different country, and I’ve realised I’m stupid. I gave it a deeper thought last few days and figured off the top of my head, I know only 2 other close friend’s families that are single children families, out of which one I grew up with and was closest to what I call my brother, and the other one is a pesky friend I deeply love, who somehow ends up in the same corner of the world as me (currently, 2 hours from Boston, but previously in India lived right across me). I have a lot of people I call close, but none of them are single children. The global average family size is 4.9 (however, I’m not sure if nuclear or not). Of the three of us, all of us behave vastly differently, and I cannot speak for them. I’m just reflecting on my experiences as a single child and how I think it affected me.

I feel alone in this world

I have family I am blessed with, and friends and a girlfriend I love. However, I feel a sense of genetic loneliness in the world that I can’t quite explain. I’m not sure if everyone feels this way (because I never talked about it assuming everyone does). I think this is partly because once I came back from school, went to my room, the music stops and I am left alone to study, work, do whatever. My father used to work internationally back in the day, I didn’t have any pets, and I lived with just my Mother. She did an absolutely fantastic job, I am thankful and I wish every good thing to her, this is not a knock on her. I just felt a sense of loneliness, that I still do to some degree. Knowing in a few decades, unless I connect with my extended family again or have a kid, no one I know will be share the same immediate blood as me.

I feel like an outsider to the world, but this is genuinely not a big issue because I am able to recognise these are emotional responses from when I was Younger.

My parental issues seem unheard

My parents, as I said, did their best. They put in blood, sweat and tears to raise me. I am sometimes (regretfully) rude to them, but they are really good people, and parents. Unfortunately, every child will have a complaint. I have a set of my own problems, which I can try to explain, but I feel no one truly understands it. God bless their heart, I know they try, but it’s hard to understand, and it’s tiring to give the entire context of my life. The tradeoff from reliving some things vs. just letting it go weigh in favour of just letting it go.

For a long time, this was a big issue, but with time, I am letting it go.

Due to aforementioned genetic loneliness, I have a somewhat deep desire of spending time with my parents despite all problems.

I am fiercely independent (And generally self-centered)

I am dependent on my friends, girlfriend and parent for different needs in my life, yes. But every time I’ve been alone, I’ve never felt alone outside of the feeling of genetic loneliness. I do not feel situational loneliness in that a new city, a new house, all feel the same to me. This is also partly because during formative years of my life, I did move quite a bit between 2-3 cities.

I do not look for guidance or advice or direction, or even permission from anyone other than me. This is a unique discovery I’ve made about myself, because again, I thought this is everyone. At least in the Indian circle of friends, a few of my friends care about what their families think, some others need permission for things, some seek direction from their elder siblings, some feel inferior to their siblings, for me, however, I feel I skipped all these stages. It made me free.

But the downside is, I am generally self-centered. My family thinks so too, and my parents don’t deny it because it is true. I am very much in service of those close to me, and put their interests above mine to the best of my abilities. If I am not close to someone, however, I do not really consider their position in making my personal decisions at all. Guilt and shame in those regards aren’t factors for me.

Despite this, by reading literature and such, I’ve developed empathy for the world once I discovered the plight of people - so not a psychopath by any means, very caring about the general human race at large!