Party of One: How Being an Only Child Impacts Your Career|
Growing up it was always just my mother and myself. From as early as my time in pre-K, I remember being told by my peers that being an only child meant that I was spoiled, a brat, selfish — you name it. If you’re an only child, I’m sure you’ve heard the same story. Despite the stereotypes and lack of easy access to playmates, growing up as an only child wasn’t so bad and even prepared me for my career. Here’s how:
One of the most obvious aspects of life as an only child is the absence of brothers and sisters or playmates by default. This means I always had to make up my own fun growing up. I was in charge of making sure I enjoyed what I was doing with my time — whether it was with toy props, a bike or computer games. At times, it meant recreating some of history’s biggest battles and ending them with my desired outcome. On other days, it meant making toys out of household items. With each game came a new challenge that I made up. I don’t make up games or toys anymore, but having to find ways to entertain myself as a kid definitely gave me a sense of creativity. I’m no Adobe wiz, but having to make my own fun as a kid helps me break out of functional fixed-ness with little trouble.
Escaping boredom as an only child who grew up without video games was a never-ending challenge — one that I got used to and started to enjoy. With each new activity came a challenge that I often had to mitigate alone. I quickly learned to appreciate challenges as a part of the process. The fact that I was constantly challenging myself as a kid helps me deal with current challenges with a positive attitude. It also helps me find ways to keep my work fun.
Out of being responsible for my own fun and coming up with new challenges for myself came a sense of independence. I became very comfortable being in my own space. Not having siblings to impress or to try and fit in with allowed me to develop my own thoughts and opinions. Moreover, I was able to be myself without worrying about being teased by older brothers and sisters. As I grew up, this made it easier to be myself in environments where I might clearly stand out. At work, this has allowed me to be myself and feel confident in what I bring to the table.
Oddly enough, my favorite aspect of being an only child was the amount of alone time I had. Without siblings to talk to, I spent a decent amount of time talking to myself. While this sounds crazy at first, it’s actually a big part of what keeps me sane. Talking to myself gives me time to filter out unnecessary noise and hear my own voice. As a relatively new employee at my company, this serves me well. I make sure to think things through before asking questions that I’m able to answer on my own. This also ensures that I’ve thought of possible solutions to the issues I’m bringing attention to.
It’s not hard to see how people can mischaracterize only children as selfish, spoiled brats who may at times be antisocial. However, if this were the case, there would be many more of us only children who would be out of a job, myself included. Yet, that is not the case. If you remove the stigmas associated with only children, we have a lot to share.
Are you an only child? How has it helped or hurt you in your career? Tell us in the comments!
Photo courtesy of Social Bliss