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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Cloris Kylie says
I agree, Dan! I would add that being an only child allows us to naturally learn how to be leaders and how to make decisions independently, which are 2 key factors of success. Thank you!
Dan, I just finished listening to your audio book “Promote Yourself.” I took a lot of notes and look forward to promoting myself now. I too am an only child, born in Brooklyn, and spent 40 years of my life in Southeast Asia doing missionary work and doing humanitarian aid work. My husband and I came back to the States which was a shocker and we worked at a foundation supporting 50 humanitarian projects in 30 countries. I am now working for a non-profit agency and have been there for over a year. My position was (and still is) lead receptionist/general office clerk. They had to ask the Customer Relations Specialist to leave as the budget couldn’t afford having him. Then they asked me to take his job with a 40 cent raise, and still do my other jobs until they get someone else. I love the cause and the work I do, and the challenge of doing this new job, but I honestly feel I should be making more money which I need. So I have found my passion, but financially it looks like they won’t be able to give me a raise and my salary is quite minimal for the work I am doing. Any advice you have would be appreciated. At this time I am thinking of asking for a raise when i come back from my vacation at the end of September, and I will also start looking for another job at that time. Thanks so much for the information you shared in your book. It really hit on a lot of things I need to do and I am praying for the right direction to take in my life.