The Joys, Pains, and Plain Truths of Adulting as an Only Child
Aug 9, 2019   •   Andy Flores
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Aug 9, 2019   •   Andy Flores
Growing up, I didn’t really mind being an only child. In fact, I loved it.
I loved being the center of my parents’ attention. I loved playing alone and just letting my imagination run wild. I loved the curious questions I got from friends and strangers, just as much as I loved hearing people’s assumptions about me (“spoiled” and “lonely” were my favorites because I was neither).
But what I truly loved most about being an only child was how my parents gave me so much freedom and independence in making decisions—from something as simple as choosing my outfits to something far more serious like deciding on the college program I’d take—all the while ensuring that I received enough guidance from them.
So you see, life was pretty rosy for me…until I became an adult.
Since not a lot of people talk about how much more difficult adulting is when you’re an only child, let me share with you some of the joys, pains, and plain truths that come with it:
I didn’t know it at first, but when I felt like my life was crumbling down into pieces, a lot of my friends still thought I had my shit together, so much so that they’d even solicit my advice on anything related to adulting. I could only laugh at the time, but then it dawned on me that I must be more capable and independent than I thought. It still surprises me that I’ve actually managed to deal with so many things on my own! So, I guess everything will be just fine in the near future, right? Right???
Believe me. Only children are afraid of a lot of things, and one of them is the possibility that we will be alone for the rest of our lives. Yes, we’re independent. Yes, we relish our me-time. But being alone forever sounds quite harsh, doesn’t it? Moreover, we understand that extended family and friends could only do so much to support us, and we don’t really like bugging them about anything because, while we may be in need of some comfort or affection, we also hate being a burden to anybody.
Somehow, they just can’t get over the fact that we’re not babies anymore. More often than not, they’d go the extra mile just to keep us close, maintain the bond we have, and give what they think is best for us. We’d run through chores together, go on trips, and spend lovely quiet times at home. There’s also the occasional dinner treat or allowance, which we almost always can’t say no to. Thanks, Ma and Pa!
As much as we hate to admit it, we aren’t that good in hearing out other people’s thoughts. This is something I realized when I started working. Not that I was being a complete b*tch, putting my ideas high up on a pedestal. But I was so used to having things go my way that I found working with a diverse group of people and taking everyone’s opinions into consideration quite tough. I somehow got used to it, though, and found a sense of gratification in working with a team.
If we didn’t before, we do now. Aside from not being able to experience the joy of spoiling nephews and nieces, we also have nobody to share responsibilities with, which sucks BIG TIME, especially when you’re earning barely enough money to support yourself. Moreover, only children have a limited support system. There are about a million what-ifs running through our minds every single day—what if my parents get sick and we couldn’t afford treatment? What if they die? What if I die? Who will comfort them? I understand that having a sibling does not guarantee an easier life in the long run, but it definitely presents you with more options.
When we were younger, we couldn’t care less whenever our parents used the line “we won’t always be around” to nag us about trivial things such as tidying up our room or taking out the trash. But as we grew older, we also came to the realization that time is ticking and at some point, we’ll have to let our parents—the closest people we have, whom we so dearly love—go. And trust us when we say that there is no greater fear we have than losing our parents.
I’ve always said that I don’t want to get married and have kids. But in all honesty, stubborn as I am, I would be lying if I say that I haven’t begun to question my staunch decision to remain single for life. Not because I want to be romantically involved with somebody for once, but the thought of going through life alone can be terrifying at times. It could be nice to have a significant other to lean on when things get tough.
Just because we don’t have siblings to compete with, it doesn’t mean we don’t feel any sort of pressure to do well and succeed in life. We do. Since we’re flying solo in this game called life, we constantly feel like we always have to put our best foot forward because at the end of the day, we only have ourselves to depend on. And, of course, we want to make our parents proud, too.
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