Hipstercrite Life

The Plight of the Only Child

I’m a left-handed Jewish only child Gemini female from a divorced family.

Well, Taurus now if you ask whoever the hell came up with the new zodiacs.

I know what you’re thinking. After re-reading the first sentence, I’m thinking the same thing too.

She must be a lot of work.

It’s easy to think that if you believe the stereotypes regarding left-handers, Jews, former Geminis, females and only children.

Oy vey! Do they write nasty things about only children! Just the other day I came across an article where they describe only children as “narcissistic”, “self-centered”, “stubborn”, “autonomous”, “alienating”, “loners”, “aloof” and “odd”.

How dare they!

They left out “uniquely gifted”, “supremely intelligent” and “God’s greatest gift to the world”, duh.

What I read about only children both enlightened and scared the living shit out of me. Some publications try to give us the benefit of the doubt and state that the generalizations of only children are typically not true, but when I began reading the assumed traits, I found myself nodding my head in agreement not only for my own behavior, but that of every other God forsaken only child I’ve ever met.

As Woody Allen stated in Annie Hall about how outsiders view New Yorkers, he said, “Don’t you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here.” I can’t help but feel that everything they say about only children is true too. I’ve begun to believe what others think but are too polite to say out loud. I think of us as narcissistic, self-centered autonomous loners. And to quote another line from Annie Hall taken from the great Groucho Marx, “I would never want to belong to a club that would have someone like me as a member.”

Being an only child means you can smell others of your kind from a mile a way. As soon as you encounter a somewhat boisterous, overly confident, talkative or strong-minded person, there is a good chance that they’re an only child. Or high on coke. I’m not sure there are many non-similarities between the two. We are a distinct breed. Much like the Geminis, we wear our personalities on our sleeves. No secrets. You know exactly who you’re dealing with. And that is a mildly balmy person.

Can we be self-centered? Absolutely. It’s a little difficult not to be when you haven’t had to share a friggin‘ thing with anyone else. Can we be loners? Sure. You get used to spending a lot of time hanging out with stuffed animals as a child. Can we be stubborn? F yeah. We’re used to getting what we want and we don’t handle not getting our way very well. However, I can tell you firsthand that there is a misconception that we’re all selfish and bratty turds. Though often narcissistic, only children try to make up for their lack of large family by being very warm and generous to others. In other words, we desperately comb the Earth with our arms outreached hoping that someone, anyone, will take us in.

We can be interesting as all hell too. As children we often tried impressing the living shit out of adults because we falsely felt that we related better to them and we’re pretty well-versed in film and TV because we pretended to be any place other than alone in our bedrooms.

As dramatic as the generalization of only children often is, the role is barely discussed in birth order studies. I’d like to think this is because scientists and doctors can’t handle our shit. Our awesomeness is obviously so blinding upon exiting the womb that researchers just throw their arms up and say, “I’m spent.” All this attention is devoted to analyzing the effects of being the first, middle, or last child, while the only children are left quietly talking to themselves in the corner. If you’re the first child you’re typically the responsible one, the child you can rely on, who takes charge and is ambitious. If you’re the middle child you’re stuck in between the stalwart of the family (first born) and the baby of the family (last born) and this confusion causes you to become the black sheep and turn to huffing Reddi-Whip cans for comfort. The last born is typically the jester, the good-time kid, the one who coasts on the coattails of their older siblings.

Then there is the only child.

The red-headed step child to ALL OF MANKIND.

Hey, but what they say about only children is not all that bad though.

Time was nice enough to point out only children that helped change the world like Cary Grant and Elvis Presley. One guy who used to spank his wife and trip on LSD and another who ate himself into oblivion and died on the can at the age of 42.

Interesting reads: Only-child Myths Persist As More Parents Choose One Kid

What is your birth order and do you feel that it plays a role in your personality?

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  • Reply Allison January 18, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I had an experience with an only child roommate in my first year of university. I grew up in a family of four – mom, dad, and slightly younger brother. I was used to sharing stuff.

    She was not.

    We slept in the same room and had computer desks on opposite sides of the room…but apparently I typed too loudly for her liking.

    As the oldest child I tend to resent my brother a lot. I definitely feel like my mom favours him – even though we're all adults now. He's still a momma's boy.

  • Reply Nicole January 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    I'm an only child too. Sup.

    I definitely think being an only child shaped the person I turned out to be.

    I'm very independent. I'm responsible. I'm introverted. I'm shy. I like my alone time. I am a bit of a loner. And I have no problem doing anything by myself — traveling, going to the movies, eating out. I'm definitely not spoiled. I was raised by a single mother and we rarely had money.

    When I was young, I desperately wanted a sibling. I often wonder how I'd be different if I had a sibling growing up.

  • Reply Jessica January 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    I'm the oldest and definitely felt the assumed responsibilities of that role – always helped with dinner, chores, babysitting, etc. It was just how things were; don't really remember feeling "unfair". I enjoyed the extra expectations.

    I was a good student and athlete creating a lot of unfair comparisons with my younger siblings. I don't think my parents meant to cause so much strife between us, but even all these years, a few of my sibs (one sister is particular) still cannot let it go that she's not as "good" as I am. Of course I don't believe I'm better than her, but here we are at ages 30 and 27…still dealing with the same petty shit.

    She claims it's because she's a middle child. In my family, there's like five middle children…

    If anything, I think the size of my family had more of an influence than birth order (I have seven younger siblings). We never really learned to socialize with our peers nor sought out friendships because there were already so many children in the house. As we've become adults, I noticed that none of us can live with roommates and have great difficulty in meeting people.

    PS: That picture of you is too damn cute.

  • Reply LexiLluveras January 18, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I think I'm be really indecisive because I was the baby & my older siblings always made the decisions (what to eat, what kind of car or tv the family should get, how to spend the weekends). Because I looked up to my older brothers so much, I ALWAYS wanted to do what they wanted to do. My middle brother & I just moved in together this year & things are pretty much the same; I almost invariably like the movies & books he suggests. To do this day, I still have a hard time answering questions like, "What do you want to do today?" or "Where do you want to go eat?"

  • Reply theTsaritsa January 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    I really hate that phrase "red headed step child." People always be hatin on redheads, I don't get it.

    Regarding only children, I know plenty of self-centered twats who have older and younger siblings! And plenty of only children who are great friends and listeners. It's all about how you were raised, I believe.

    I'm the oldest and I am the responsible money-saving one, my little sister is a party animal. I guess some characteristics can be true.

  • Reply Hipstercrite January 18, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    @Allison- Awww! Yeah. That's an only child that gives them a bad name. I will be honest, I don't like sharing food, but I'm good at sharing other things. It takes a lot for people to bug/upset me, so I never understand why people get upset about common things like TYPING. Haha.

    @Nicole- Hey! That sounds like me! I love being alone just as much as I love being around friends. In fact, some things I prefer to do alone like concerts, movies, and some travel. Thanks for sharing your story.

    @Jessica- They say how birth order really shapes people for the rest of their lives. Isn't it interesting how your sibs can still feel that way after all this time? I think some things never leave us- even if we recognize them. And thank you!!!

    @Lexi- That's sweet though! Sometimes I wish I had an older brother to help me. 🙂

    @Tsaritsa- I do too, but I couldn't find a better phrase! Will you help me come up with a better one?

    • Reply grace b April 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm

      Just wanted to chime in,

      Concerts alone = AMAZING.

  • Reply Jenn - There's Your Karma January 18, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Only child here, hey.

    I'm almost embarrassed how I am when it comes to sharing. Especially food. Do NOT touch my food.

    I currently live with my only-child best friend, and he puts me to SHAME. When I acquiesce to him, I find myself saying, "Oh my God, you just out-Only-Childed me. You are the Alpha Only Child."

  • Reply One Blonde Girl January 18, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I'm still trying to figure out how all these sibling rules apply to twins. And then, of course, to blended families. I mean, if you started life out as the eldest twin, gained a younger sis when you were three, and then gained two older step-sibs at seven or eight, and then gained another younger half-sis at age ten, where do you really fall into the grand scheme of things?

    I'll tell you where, as the black sheep who was expected to be the responsible one, failed miserably at it and ended up as the "troubled" one who became isolated from the rest of the family but is now much happier and more successful (IMO) than all her other siblings.


  • Reply Angie January 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I'm second born, out of two, and everything I've read on birth order seems to be pretty accurate. I'm tougher and always "got away" with more shit than my older sister. She is more sensitive than I am, and usually more responsible. Usually. But it's hard to compare us to other siblings, because we're roommates, best friends, and familial soulmates. Most people think it's weird, but we just can't imagine any different way to have a relationship with a sibling. It's nature's way of giving you a default bestie.

  • Reply Hipstercrite January 18, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    @Jenn- Hey-o! OMG I love it! I can just picture the interactions. I'm also glad to know I'm not alone on the food thing. It's almost primal, right?

    @One Blonde Girl- Sometimes I wish I had sibs and sometimes I thank God I don't. Especially lots of sisters. I think it can go one of two ways- you're all best buds, or y'all compete etc.

    @Angie- Hey Angie! Yeah, you two seem pretty lucky! It's so nice to hear about sisters who genuinely love being around one another. good for you!

  • Reply Claire Marie January 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I'm a first born, as is my boyfriend, and I think the stereotypes fit pretty well. We're both more confident leaders, confident around adults, responsible, and have had a lot more attention and expectations put on us from our parents. I've always been incredibly interested in birth order, thanks for posting!

  • Reply Whitney January 18, 2011 at 11:24 pm

    I doubt it surprises you at all that I'm also an only child. But I recently had the experience of spending 7 days, including Christmas, with my boyfriend's family. His family has SEVEN children. What surprised me was that they kept calling me–practically the most social person on the planet–shy. Still haven't quite figured that one out 😉

  • Reply laurenne January 18, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    YES! So glad you wrote about this. I HATE HATE HATE those stereotypes. If a guy mentions something about me being an only child on a first date, I NEVER give him a second date.

    It's almost always like this:
    "Oh, you're an only child. I bet you're spoiled, huh?"
    And then I club him.
    I agree with you on most accounts, but I think that so many others with siblings could carry the same labels.
    I feel like I've always bent over backwards so that ANYONE would take me in.
    And I'm dying to live in a family-like community where we cook dinners together and look out for each other. Because I'm willing to GIVE to that community.
    Yeah, I like my alone time, but so do some people with tons of siblings. Just like people with siblings can also be narcissistic and selfish.

    I don't understand how someone can get fired for saying 'White people can't dance,' but we're A-Ok with generalizing about people without siblings. Even if they're sometimes true.

  • Reply Scribbler January 19, 2011 at 1:35 am

    "If you're the middle child you're stuck in between the stalwart of the family (first born) and the baby of the family (last born) and this confusion causes you to become the black sheep and turn to huffing Reddi-Whip cans for comfort."

    My entire life suddenly makes sense. Seriously!

  • Reply Christopher January 19, 2011 at 3:53 am

    I only got to be the only child for four years before 3 others eventually showed up. Having been an only child for 4 years and getting what I want, I think, might have contributed to the conflict with my nearest sibling that really lasted until we no longer lived together. I'd kind of like to see a study about that sort of thing to prove that I didn't just make up this theory right now.

  • Reply Hipstercrite January 19, 2011 at 4:11 am

    @Claire- It sounds like you met your perfect match! 🙂

    @Whitney- HAHAHA! When I first saw your comment in my inbox, I laughed so hard. Just picturing it…

    @Laurenne- To my only-child soul sister in LA- who got fired for saying that white people can't dance?

    @Scribbler- 😉

    @Christopher- That's a good point. One Blonde Girl brought up about blended families too. There are a lot of other variables to consider as well.

  • Reply Melanie's Randomness January 20, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Heall yeah to the only children! I'm an only child, my best friend is an only child, & it just happens I found a boyfriend who too is an only child & my last ex was only child. I don't know but I have a posse' of them. People say I don't act like the typical only child but I do. I'm very independent & I march to the beat of a different drum. People think its weird that I can go to a diner and eat dinner by myself & not be freaked out by the empty chair next to me. Nope. I'm good with it. =)

  • Reply whatsername January 22, 2011 at 8:06 am

    ONLY CHILDREN UNITE !!!!!!!! XD obviously i'm an only child. i always wanted siblings as a child, and i still do even though mi parents are now too old to have anymore. A lot of the stereotypes seem to fit me. i always had more in common with adults, i'm super, i was a loner, and i always got what i wanted. However, i always share, i share so much that now everyone takes advantage of me. Also, i think being an only child and being alone almost all the time definitely had an effect on who i am today. I have severe depression {i wanted to commit suicide at age 9} and social anxiety disorder so i'm pretty much screwed when it comes to social interaction. i still have more things in common with adults, especially mi teachers. i have no true friends because they all use me for money, or food, or anything they can mooch off of me because i'm so desperate to have someone because i'm sick of being alone. *sigh* i apologize for the the depressingness. )B Just goes to show that i'm an example of what can happen to us lonely onlys. We can get so isolated at such a young age that we spend the rest of our lives trying so hard to find meaningful connections to people but they always seem to fail. We don't quite fit in anywhere, but we don't want to be alone anymore. The most terrifying thing, that i worry about all the time, is what if i'm not good enough to be loved by another person that isn't forced to at least like me because of family ???? what if us only children are destined for a life of failed relationships ????

    sorry for rambling……..

  • Reply frank June 15, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    I recently noticed that the girls I go crazy for (i.e., fall in love with, have longstanding crushes on, drive thousands of miles to visit) are all Jewish and Gemini. decided to google "jewish gemini girl" and found this article. after several minutes of browsing your blog, I think that there really must be something about Jewish Gemini girls that drives me wild. just thought I'd share the results of my haphazard experiment/theory.

  • Reply The Lonely Child | Hipstercrite October 24, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    […] written about being an only child before, but I mostly focused on the humorous aspect, like how we’re all a […]

  • Reply april dawne April 11, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I hope this post means that my FB post was a true inspiration.
    Me; I’m an only child thru and thru. I’ve always thought there were 2 kinds of only’s. 1- the kind that are independent, social, extroverted and can talk to anyone they meet and probably get along with them (ME) and then 2- the kind that were introverted, not socialized at all.
    We’re all usually sort of loners deep down and find comfort in eating, seeing shows, movies, and the like by ourselves. I love to sit at a bar alone and watch people (self-proclaimed anthropologist) and I have discovered my love for traveling alone since my divorce.

    As often as I meet people when I’m out and about by myself, I don’t consider it a hindrance at all. And honestly, you people are fucking lucky to be graced by my presence when you DO see me because I’m so busy meeting people and having fun.

    The only bummer I’ve found so far besides what society thinks of us is when you lose a parent. I was close to both of my folks and it’s really hard to grieve for your dad (or mom) when you have to try to be strong and hold up the other parent that is left behind. Def put me back years in my grieving and my (in)ability to move forward in a positive way. Even the eulogy was up to me.

    Thanks for writing this, Momma and I’m proud to share this unique social standing w/you.

  • Reply Libby April 11, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    This is great. I always try to keep my only child negative traits in check — esp when I feel them come out. But I have a love hate relationship on being an only. As a kid, I was fine with it but as I’m getting older–it would be nice to have siblings to help balance out not living close to my family.

    I’m totally okay hanging out with myself and getting to know myself and I think that’s because of being an only child.

  • Reply grace b April 11, 2013 at 2:00 pm


    Seriously I don’t give a crap about the “new zodiac” lol.

    I’m a first-born Gemini and so is my boyfriend. There are four of us lol.

    Honestly Lauren, I never would have expected you were an only child. After some nasty experiences in high school and college I avoided only children like the plague. Now I care a lot less but I still feel a lot of pride as an oldest. Have a problem? I will fix it.

    I could go on and on about being a Gemini though. Last year I had EIGHT Geminis in my social circle (and I lived with 3 of them)…damn that was fun. And since my boyfriend and I have birthdays 4 days apart we are going to do some big party together this year I think.

  • Reply Nicole B. April 11, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    I totally chuckled at this post. Not only am I an only child, but I have only one kid. This fact was the cause of lots of introspection, especially reading how to parent an only child and realizing all the shit I brought to the table.

    Whenever people find out I’m an only child, they always make some comment like “I never would have guessed you are an only child!” which I guess is supposed to be a compliment.

    Whatevs. We rule.

    • Reply hipstercrite April 13, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      I’ve been reading a lot of articles about how only children are on the rise. I used to think that if I ever had kids, I wouldn’t want one. Now, with the way the economy and the future of the human race look, I think one is plenty.

  • Reply Tyler December 18, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I’m a left-handed only child. Also I’m from Texas and I live in Philadelphia. People from Texas judge me for living here and people here judge me because of where I’m from. All that plus the upper middle class stigma means I am at best being quadruple-judged at any given moment. This has only made me stronger, smarter, and more handsome. It’s time to declare our innate superiority and destroy those wrong-handed litterling scum! Viva la larger corpus collosum and symmetrical brain!

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