Mythbusters on single children — “No they are NOT the spoilt brats”
“Oh you are a single child! You must be pampered and spoilt.”
Stereotypes can be tricky. One struggles hard to not be stereotyped and is simultaneously bothered as to why they are different from others. However, little do people realize being a single child has its own uniqueness, and this experience has had a great positive impact on my personal as well as professional life.
You earn what you demand, you earn love, respect, and trust along with it
Growing up for me is lined up with interesting memories I’ll cherish for a lifetime. I was not a very demanding child (as my parents tell me) but most of my demands were met as long as there was some rationale behind it. So yes, I was privileged that way. But mostly I had to earn whatever I used to demand. One such incident was when the dog lover in me wanted to adopt a pet labrador and my father was strictly against having a pet. God blessed me with a good grade in 10th standard and I had my first pet, Ruby (little sister I’d call her) in my life. Little did I know that this little earning of mine would change my perspective of life. Indeed, I shared a great deal of my emotional and personal space with Ruby. In fact, it was my dad who was first opposed to the very notion of having a pet, became incredibly close to Ruby. It was this bond between Ruby and I that had earned, also earned me respect and trust from my beloved parents (more than I had anticipated). I never realized that striving for best in what I love and earning it will translate into my professional life. Be it transitioning from engineering to design, placing myself at a firm of my choice or finding the right projects to hone my skills, I earned them all with my efforts and creative prowess. And I do see the respect and trust I get from my colleagues here.
“Wait for things to come to you at the right time. Too much too soon can get overwhelming at times.”
You’re possessive, but possessive for good things in life
I never had to worry about sharing my toys with anyone. Now that was a great feeling as a child when no one would break any of them. That also made me very possessive about all the things I owned. This also led me to a realize that I tend to care too much about all things that are mine be — people or things. Call it a weakness, but it often leads me to doing the best for all the things that are truly mine. There were times I felt I’m being over-possessive, but the love I got back from my people makes me care more for them — unconditionally. This never-ending beautiful cycle of care-possessiveness-love has only strengthened my relationships, and has given me time to reflect on what things really mean to me in life. This often translates to the work I do in my professional life, where I try to give in all I can to whatever i’m engaged in. I guess growing up alone has made me more accountable to my actions, and thus that clearly reflects in my professional endeavours. More so, it has made me passionate about things I have earned.
“Keep things you love dearly close to your chest. You end up leaving a trail for you to retrace.”
An undivided parental attention is not always a bad thing
It is a given fact that your have two pairs of eyes constantly looking out for you if you are a single child. My parents made sure all their spare time was spent on me be it making me read the newspaper, feeding me with healthy food or driving me to places. As a daughter of an Air Traffic Controller and a sportsperson, discipline at home is something one can’t escape. Sometimes this vigilance could be annoying but when I think of it in the hindsight it was the same attention to detail that allowed me to do much more focussed work than a lot of other kids of my age would do. They took special care of my needs and wants (sometimes helped me differentiate between the two). They devoted all their spare time to give me worldly advice. This experience made me responsible towards things that are dependent on me, be it relationships or my work. It helped me learn how you nurture that one single thing you love, and has reflected in the amount of details I have managed to include in my projects.
Having your parents as allies in whatever you are doing can be very helpful in the formative years
When you don’t have siblings you share a special bond with your parents. I share a special one with my mother as she accompanied me to dance classes, woken up late when I was studying for my 10th grade exams and hugged me tight when I was down in my personal life. Being friends with your parents makes a lot of things easier, it’s as if they are getting younger with you and your maturity evolves by being around them. I would go watching movies with them, play a game of table tennis or go shopping. I never had to look for company, my parents loved to tag along. Sometimes it was annoying for the teenager in me but mostly i loved their company :)
Little did I know how this friendship landed me the job I wanted at that point. I studied in an ultra-competitive institute where friends turn into foe right when there is a limited opportunity of success. Unlike my friends, it were my parents who motivated me like best college friends to strive for the most challenging opportunity. They let me take the risk, I was for a moment apprehensive about. It was this friendship with parents that has led me to some of the most unexpected professional achievements.
“It’s a very special feeling if your parents are your best friends. Cherish every moment with them.”
You are born with the ability to love your own company
Another thing about being a single child with working parents is that you get a lot of time with yourself. I enjoyed my solace, my space and often found joy in doing small things like making a ‘make-believe house’ using bedsheets and chairs and talking to my toys or cycling to the garden. Even today, my me-time is something I wouldn’t trade for the world. It is a natural gift I’m born with and people in my closest circles have learned this very well. It gives me the time to think, analyse and make sense of whatever is happening around me. What it also helps me do is to give me the strength pick my company. I love to be around people who inspire me, people with ideas, passion to leave a mark, else I prefer my own company. My personal time has made me realised how much of inspiration I can draw from past my failures and successes. It has now been successfully weaved into my professional life. I prefer not to be dependent on other individuals for my work. Off late, I have been taking initiatives based on my own strength and somewhere there is a spark of confidence in me that I can achieve my goals on my own.
“You get stronger if you can be by yourself. It gives you time to reflect on the world and achieve a state of self acceptance.”
You become a meaningful blend of introversion and extraversion
I grew up as a shy kid who would talk only when absolutely necessary. I was afraid of talking to new people and there was a small duration when I had started to stutter. I was a bright child in school I would take part in curricular and was popular among the teachers as an all-rounder. I must credit my parents for making me so capable of different things. But I was considered socially dull by my peer group and was far from being ‘popular’. On the contrary kids thought i was too filled with pride as i didn’t interact much. I had very small circle of friends throughout the school and that was enough for me. Growing up, I often imagined how cool it would be like having a large circle of friends. I’ll confess these thoughts often traumatised me. I had this never ending urge to be accepted by all.
Now if i look back, i’ll say i’ve come a long way. I love having long conversations with people I have just met, i love making new friends, I love new experiences. But experiences that bring the best in me. The shy girl in me still exists but I have learnt to take life with open arms and leave my inhibitions aside sometimes. Perhaps it is this shyness that makes me selective about my company, but my curiosity allows me to be more open. And I totally love this balanced life.
In my professional world, I have seen myself more open to new ideas and risks related to innovation, but at the same time my shyness has kept me cautious of future consequences. I am positive my openness to experiences will soon dominate my professional career.
“Get over the want to be what people want you to be. Let your hair loose and do things your way.”
I believe the best thing that happens to a single child is that they carve their own paths. Growing up, I didn’t have examples of how to deal with the challenges life throws at you. What career to pick, who to be friends with, whom to love were all my decisions, a large number of which were blunders. But the biggest satisfaction was that all these failed decisions were mine and all taught me something.
“It is a great feeling to share your journey with others. Especially when these are self made.”
Having said that, yes, I will say there are days when you feel lost and alone. In that case, fall back on people you can trust your parents, relatives, and friends to always have your back. My final advice to kids(only child or not) is that don’t let what people believe about you define who you are. Your uniqueness makes you special. Embrace this beauty, and the world will follow you.