When my only sibling finally moved away to college, all I could think was “Yes! No more arguing over what to eat for dinner! No more arguing over which TV show to watch! This is the good life!” Even though we were a mere 1 year and 4 days apart, we were like night and day: neat and messy, optimistic and pessimistic, and etc., for almost any category. I figured the end of her time in this household was the beginning of my time of freedom.
While yes, my new freedom was empowering (now I could finally blast my music without needing her permission!), I missed the one thing I thought I wouldn’t: her. Since I am younger, I’ve literally had her by my side for my whole life. Whether it was attending concerts together or asking her for advice on the daily, I never realized how much of a hole she would leave. In essence, I had to learn how to live as an only child. My newfound independence came with a newfound loneliness that I didn’t expect and didn’t know how to handle. Here’s how my life has changed since her departure:
1. I’ve become more responsible
Though I would never admit this to her face, I wholeheartedly thank my neat-freak sister for nagging me about changing the toilet paper roll, vacuuming my room, and washing the dishes. For the first month of my temporary-only-child experience, my room was nearly a pigsty. With her gone and without her reminders, I had learn how to constantly enforce more self-discipline upon myself (which is pretty good practice for when I live alone at college, too).
If you are the so-called Neat Sibling, you probably won’t experience this particular shift. But, I speak for all Messy Siblings when I say “thank you” for your much-needed service.
2. I talk to my parents more often
While I am still no expert on the subject matter, I’ve noticed conversations with my parents have become increasingly more often ever since my sister left. Before her departure, I constantly went to her for advice, for laughs, and just for someone to talk to when I was bored. Now with her absence, I constantly go to my parents instead.
I know, I know, it sounds horrible. Typically, I only converse with my parents if they’re telling me what to do or I’m asking them for a ride. But with my sister gone, I’ve been encountered more opportunities to talk to my parents, not just on a child to parent dynamic, but also on a friend to friend dynamic, since I now ask them for more personal advice that I would’ve typically discussed with my sister.
If you are about to become a temporary only child, I warn you now: you will be bored. You will have no one to talk to at home. You will start talking to your parents on a more casual level. Maybe you already have a great relationship with your parents and nothing will change, but as someone who’s attempted (many times) to bond with her parents over the years, this shift worked out quite well.
3. Extended family gatherings are even more terrifying
The one downside to my sister’s absence is extended family gatherings. All of my cousins are either out of college or still in elementary school, thus my sister and I typically stick by each other’s side the entire event. We would sit back and observe the children playing video games or the adults drunkenly singing karaoke, and we would back each other up when our relatives asked the typical barrage of intimidating questions (eg. “Do you have a boyfriend? Where are you going to college? What are you majoring in? Do you have straight A’s? Do you have a job?”).
With her gone, I am left to fend on my own during these tough times: too young (and too underage) to sit at the adult table, but too old to watch Teletubbies at the kid’s table. I feel like Katniss without Peeta, and my relatives are the other tributes, ready to rip me apart.
Without my sister, I’ve had to become more independent. Whether it’s reminding myself to pick up my hair in the shower drain, or staying strong during those mini-interviews at extended family events, living without a sidekick has been a learning experience. To all those only children reading this right now: I admire you.