There has always been a stigma around being an only child ever since I was born. Whenever I meet someone and they ask if I have any siblings, they always roll their eyes when I say “no”. They immediately think that an only child is selfish, spoiled, can’t share, and is attention crazed. As an only child, I do agree with those sentiments because my parents only focused on raising me and wanted to support me because they had no one else.
An example of the level of attention that I sought was when I was eight years old. I would stand in front of the TV and dance, while my family watched me instead of CNN. Now, if you combine this with being a millennial, having received more than a dozen soccer trophies I probably didn’t deserve, then you can see how that might have a negative impact on my upbringing. While some only children don’t work hard and have everything handed to them, my situation was different, thankfully.
I was pushed into the workforce at the age of thirteen by my parents. My father, and his family, were extremely hard workers and built their businesses from scratch, while my mom grew up with a father who worked over a hundred hours per week. When people immediately judge me for being an only child, my defense mechanism is that I’ve been working since I was a teenager, and was proud of my jobs as a camp counselor, a caterer at my temple, and getting coffee for CEOs during various internships.
Looking back, I view being an only child as my competitive advantage because it was natural to seek attention, promote myself and my abilities and establish my “brand”. Since the main focus was on me, that continued through adulthood, and is part of the reason why I can get my name out there through various media. It’s the reason why I can start businesses without any partners or capital. I’m so used to being independent, and getting attention, that marketing and promoting a website or a book became natural for me.
With my time focused on helping people establish personal brands, I found that their top concern was the idea of “self-promotion”. They are afraid of putting themselves out there and talking about their abilities and achievements. As an only child, my family has always expected me to showcase my skills and talk about what I’ve accomplished. I used to have regular calls with my new deceased grandfather who would always expect me to have accomplished something, regardless of how big or small that was. I always instinctively felt like I had to be doing work that would impress him.
While not all only children had the same upbringing as I did, it’s safe to say that being an only child can have more benefits than people think. In a world where you have to make a name for yourself to build a successful career, being an only child is a competitive advantage.
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