I Need My Personal Space (Only Child Syndrome and More) feat. The Most Interesting Man in the World
I had just finished dropping some groceries off at my grandmother’s house when I said in frustration, “I actually have to get going because I got a million errands to run today, I’m about to take my phone home and leave it there.” The only part that was frustration was the fact that I didn’t have a million errands, probably had closer to like four. The problem with those errands is they had nothing to do with me. But sensing that frustration my grandmother responded, “OK, I’ll let your mother know.” Funny right? My family actually has gotten used to all the things that I do to assert my independence and privacy. Would you have realistically ever thought that in 2011 a person with no house phone or “black” phone would be able to get away with leaving their phone home on a Saturday?
Go Dr. J:
A few things about me; I’m an only child, and although I love the company of other people, outside of hanging out with those people who I can truly be myself with (and that’s only two people), I love my personal time a lot more. I could give you tons of reasons why I am the way I am, but I thought that would be too cliché, so I thought it would be more thought-provoking to talk about the need to take personal time in certain situations.
With Family – This may surprise some, but being an only child typically means that it’s always you and your family. Well, the complicating factor is that I’m the only man in my immediate family. Most of the women in my family are divorced or their husbands have passed. This can be overwhelming because you end up being the man in all of their lives. Therefore, from time to time, I feel the need to get away from all of it and just spend time away from the pressures of being the husband, son and handyman of about twelve women.
With Friends – As an only child I’ve learned that you are expected to be social when around people. This is probably why I enjoy being around strangers so much. It’s the perfect opportunity to just stop and be quiet for a while. I love to take advantage of that time, but when I’m with my friends they tend to look to me for excitement. Honestly, in real life I’m much more reserved and tend to take breaks from hanging out with friends to spend time alone being me.
With Coworkers – Coworkers are NOSY as hell. I know that everyone means well, but they will nag you on end for details about your personal life. I know that they don’t have a problem sharing information about their marriages, homes or children, but I need to keep them at a distance from that part of my life. Funny story, my fake baby mother at work came to me one day and said, “Ladies at work are starting to wonder things because you don’t talk to any of them.” Actually one of them started this rumor because I literally just did not want to hang out with a female coworker outside of work, but she was convinced we should “hang” out. Anyway, I responded, “Let them, they don’t need to be that close to me.” I’ll probably never understand why people spend every day from 9-5 with you and then turn around and want to spend more time with you.
With Routine – Routine is a double edged sword. Many people probably sleep on the same side of the bed each night, they probably roll out of the same side too. Most people have their ways and they are stuck in them. But you will become too monotonous if you never take a break from your routine. My mother has the exact same ritual every day when she comes home. She picks up the mail, goes into the kitchen, rinses out her water bottle, sits down at the kitchen table and starts going through mail. As a kid, I started messing with her by putting the mail in random places to see if she would open it elsewhere. She never did though, I could put that mail on the moon and she’d bring it back to the kitchen table. I just couldn’t imagine going through years of my life doing the same thing every day. At times, I go a different way to work or leave my cell phone at home, just to avoid routine.
I got to run — Most, come alive in the summertime!
Besides all of the above, one of the biggest ways in which Only Child Syndrome effects people is when it comes to romantic relationships. When it comes to romantic relationships, being an only child can dictate a great deal. My experience is similar to Jax’s except, I’m not an only child, I just grew up as one. Like him, I grew up around a bunch of women, and like him, I was the primary male in their lives. There are a couple positives that came from this unique set of circumstances:
Maturity – When you’ve grown up an only child you have an increased ability to listen and understand what people need. As an only child, particularly if, like Jax and I, you’re surrounded by women, you get lots of attention from the adults around you. Instead of always being treating as one of the kids, you eventually get to the point where the adults accept you as one of them. They share with you things adults wouldn’t normally share with children and you gain a certain sense of maturity not typically ascribed to those of your peer group.
Self-Sufficiency – When you’re an only child, a great deal of your time is spent alone, so you become an expert at entertaining yourself. I remember sitting up in my room as a child creating whole worlds of fantasy. I had an immaculate toy collection that included 12 inch versions of each of the X-Men and the primary X-Men villains. You can’t imagine the mutant universe I created. The comic book plots I acted out … I’m getting on a tangent. The point is, being an only child I was forced to learn to enjoy quiet moments spent with myself. I was forced to think outside of the box and I was forced to solve problems on my own. This can be great in relationships because your happiness is never dependent on your partner.
The other side of the coin is that sometimes, being an only child can be a bit damaging. For example:
My way or the highway – As kids, your parent’s pretty much rule the world, there are very few decisions you really get to make on your own. But, when you’re an only child and those rare situations arise, you get to make those decisions without having to consider the feelings or desires of anyone else. Over time, you kinda get used to that and it can be a difficult adjustment when in a relationship. The idea of considering someone else in your decision making is often foreign to an only child. (Dr. J – This leads many only children to be leaders in their environments. If you’ve ever seen Godfather II, watch the way Michael Corleone was raised, he was practically an only child.)
Please – leave me alone! – When my wife comes home from work, she tells me about her day. When I say she tells me about her day, I mean, she walks me through each and every event that took place from the moment she walked out the house. Her day and the amount she wants to talk have a correlative relationship. The worse her day, the more she wants the talk. She’s a twin – makes sense. Me, it’s the opposite. If I had a really really bad day, I don’t want a hug, I don’t want consoling, all I want is for you to leave me alone. Some of this is just personality differences, but a big part of it is born out of being an only child. As an only child, I always had to work though my own issues. The adults were too busy being adults to worry about my kid problems as a result … I needs my space – unless you’re trying to crush. In which case, an exception can be made. But after we’re done, gimme my space back – I’m still stressed and need to think things through. (Dr. J – *waves church fan*)
SBM Fam, are you an only child? What are some of the more interesting aspects of your personality you directly attribute to the fact that you have no siblings? If you’re not an only child, have you ever dealt with one? What kind of impact did their upbringing have on the relationship?
NBA finals are over … kinda sucks. Difference between Lebron and Dirk: when sh*t got hot and it didn’t look like he could win with squad that drafted him, Lebron took his talents to South Beach. Dirk, well, Dirk did what you’re supposed to do when the drama pops off…
stay low and keep firing.
If you’re in DC this Friday and Saturday, (June 17th and 18th), I want you to check out something. “Sketches of a Man” is a collection of Monologues featuring 7 different men who have experienced a major event in their lives and how they were forever changed. These are their stories…stories of Love, Passion, and Vengeance!
Dacron, the ladies man who learns the hard way that Karma is real! Nigel, who plots the ultimate revenge! What will he do when given the opportunity? On that historic day that changed the world, Thaddeus made a decision that put him on a journey to the unknown. A lost and tortured soul, Mason suffered a horrific ordeal as a child and lived to tell about it! A loving father, Xavier turns tragedy into triumph and learns to help others along the way. Corey is pure evil – but he wasn’t always. Find out what changed this boy next door into a monster! And finally Dexter; successful, handsome…he has it all. He will do whatever it takes to maintain the perfect image!
I’ll be there on Friday, get your tickets here: http://www.eventbrite.com/event/1499257319