Masters of Independence: How Only Children Handle Quarantine

Masters of Independence: How Only Children Handle Quarantine

Daniela Garcia, Opinion Editor

2020 was not the ride that we all expected, but it will surely stay on our minds as a reminder that sometimes life has to slow down. Each individual spends their quarantine days differently, some are productive, while others have a harder time getting out of bed. Whatever the situation may be, we are all trying to stay sane during social distancing. Most teens are spending quarantine with their families. So this made me wonder, is every single child spending quarantine like me? Only children like myself are masters in the art of independence, and we are taking this quarantine as a journey of self-exploration and skill-building for the future.

Single-children have been subjects of common misconceptions for centuries. Since they are always alone, people believe that they have underdeveloped social skills and are afraid of the outside world. Adrien Mancillas, Psychology professor at California State University, decided to write a study about the benefits of being an only child. One piece of the research stated, “In a recent study, Roberts and Blanton (2001) examined the subjective experiences of only children by conducting in-depth interviews with 20 young adults. These adult-only children described the following self-perceived advantages of their experiences of being only children: They were thankful for the absence of sharing, fighting, and competing with siblings; they were appreciative of not having to share parental resources and attention with anyone; they valued and enjoyed time alone; they felt being an only child facilitated creative and imaginary play in childhood; they had the advantage of parental financial resources to allow them to participate in various activities; they had close relationships with parents; and they felt they developed more maturity in youth than their peers and thus had the ability to connect well with adults.” During quarantine, my friends don’t understand how I manage to enjoy time alone, but the truth is, being an only child is quite simple. Quarantine days consist of relaxing, self-exploring, and preparing yourself for the future. Of course, we have hard days like all humans do when they feel lonely, but we more than others can turn around a lonely situation and utilize it to our advantage.

Compared to people with one or more siblings, only children have the ability to entertain themselves, not having to depend on another person during quarantine to feel happy or accompanied. Prior to COVID-19, only children were already used to having fun by themselves and relied on independent activities. “I think that as an only child it is easier to develop independence because that is the environment they grew up in. Especially people that have working parents they have to learn to entertain themselves from a very young age,” Sophia Upegui, 12th-grade student and only child, said. As an only child, I’ve learned to enjoy my days without company.  I have taken this time to learn skills that can serve to my advantage in the near future, such as cooking, sewing, meditating, and organizing my living spaces. People may think that we are ignoring peers close to us because of the way we act and judge us for not spending time with our families as much, but I see this time as an opportunity to grow, and growth includes loneliness.

Quarantine has taken over all of our lives. Daily structures fluctuate but there is one constant: we are in lockdown. Most of my friends have siblings and don’t understand how I survive being alone, so I couldn’t help but stop thinking if the other only children of the world were thinking like I was. Being alone is not a big deal. “I mostly spend my days reading, painting, drawing, and baking too…I enjoy my independence a lot because I like spending time on my own, doing my own stuff,” Upegui said. Like Sophia, I am also spending a lot of time doing activities that only require one person. This not only allows me to have my own personal space at home but also allows my two parents to have their time and not be bothered. This, once again, makes me think that only children have an easier transition when independence is needed while growing up. However, this situation isn’t always true. Teens with siblings can also enjoy their time alone and experience independence.. Take Mathias Echavarria, 12th-grade student as an example, he barely spends time with his other two siblings, yet he still enjoys having the sense that he is not alone and has someone to talk to when he pleases.

Because of the way we grew up, only children can be mistaken for selfish, lonely people. However, truth be told, others are just jealous that when we grow up, we blossom within our own independence.