In all my years of being “an only,” I’ve learned quite a bit, but I’ve narrowed it down to the five lessons I learned from being an only child:
- I can do selfish. I’m a professional at it. If I feel slighted, used, or ignored I conjure up my inner only child and throw a major tantrum. Well, not really. Since I’m a grown-up, I usually just shrug my shoulders, cross that person off my “list,” and reward myself with an outing by myself, a good book or do a little “retail therapy.” I’ve also learned that there’s one guarantee in life: People will disappoint you.
- I can do “all by myself.” Though my childhood was lonely, it taught me that I can be by myself any time and enjoy the solitude. I know a lot of people who can’t dine in a restaurant by themselves. To me it is a great joy to sit in a restaurant with a good book or my journal and have a great meal. Not having someone there clears my foggy mind and gives me a fresh perspective of my own life. I also know a lot of solitaire card games.
- I wasn’t religious growing up, but now that I am, attending Mass by myself has been a blessing in my life. Attending Mass with my husband and participating in choir is restorative to my soul, but there’s something about sitting in a church for daily Mass that returns the miracle of the Eucharist to me and opens the scriptures to me as if I’m hearing them for the first time.
- I’m fascinated by the sibling relationship. Growing up I would probe my friends with questions about their siblings and ask them what it was like to have that relationship. To this day it hurts me to hear about siblings who don’t speak to each other for years. Or worse, parents who deliberately divide their children against each other. It’s like a knife in my heart when I hear those stories. I’ve often wondered if my childhood might have been different if I had had a sibling, but I kind of doubt it. I’ve learned that I have people in my life that are as close to that sibling relationship as I’m ever going to get and I’m thankful to God for putting those people in my life’s path.
- Being an only child taught me independence at an early age. I moved out at 19 and lived alone for years before I got married. I taught myself how to cook (with the help of my BFF) and run a household. I’m grateful for those years and the hard lessons I learned from them.
There were times in my life when being an “only” was difficult. As the years went by, I realized that what I learned from that experience was a blessing and I was able to grow in faith from that.
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