By Cogie Celzo ‘22
“… How about you, Cogie? Do you have any siblings?”
“No, actually, I’m an only child.”
“Reaaallyyy?! You don’t strike me as one!”
There is a certain mystique surrounding only children and the ways in which we perceive ourselves versus how others do. The psychology behind how only children are raised is fascinating, indeed, but after having gone through my first year @ Pomona as an only child, I just want to share a few… interesting observations with my fellow only children (incoming, especially) or those who just find themselves interested in the topic.
- Your familial relationships/habits will be amplified. On move-in day, my dad told me that many incoming college first-years will resort to sticking to their routines more closely than ever to try to avoid crumbling under the pressure of losing themselves in college. In a very small nutshell, what he meant was that Type A’s become even more Type A, while Type B’s, more Type B. When talking about family dynamics and communication, if you were very close and kept in constant contact with your family before college, you may probably be even more in-touch with them once college gets going, and vice versa if you weren’t necessarily the closest/most open with each other to begin with. Simply being aware of such a trend, my dad advised me, helps with adjusting certain behaviors should you want to adjust them + lightly reducing the shock factor of coming into college.
- Your sponsor group experience may be your first time experiencing what it’s like to have even a semblance of having a SIBLING (multiple, actually…), and it will teach you multitudes about your personality! Much of what you learn will be parts of your personality that you haven’t necessarily visited/explored before, as you probably didn’t have to do so in the past, so it’s sort of like cultivating a whole new you, essentially. After having gone a whole year with my sponsor group (Mudd 2 FRONTTT), I learned that, although I did find my spiblings to be a bit too overbearing and plain loud at the beginning of the school year, I realized that it was really just my inexperience with having siblings that led me to believe so. By the middle of my first semester, I LOVED keeping my door open whenever I could just so my spibs/friends knew I was available to talk/hang out/buy my 3rd Thai Tea of the day @ the Coop, etc. One of my spiblings (who’s also an only child) learned that she really was just always 100% down for spontaneous outings with us & her friends. It’s an eye-opening time, learning about new areas of your personality that come out when surrounded by sibling-like figures, especially for only children, and it’s definitely something to take advantage of your first year.
- We’ve learned to do it all our lives, so do NOT lose your contentedness with being ALONE!! While your sponsor group, affinity groups, Orientation Adventure groups, Critical Inquiry Seminar classmates and all that are a great way to jump into college, do not feel bad for sometimes wanting periods of time just for yourself. Never feel like you need to devote all your time plus a few moments to all the amazing people you’ll meet at Pomona. It really is ok to just take a breather and want to be alone. Being happy while alone, quite frankly, is a skill that not everyone has, but only children have had to acquire it for emotional survivability, period. Be aware of when you need to take a quick step back to let that social battery recharge for a bit.
- Keep your parents’ transitions in mind as well. A milder onset of separation anxiety ensues when students go away to college, and while this is true for most parents, it is especially and painfully true for parents of only children—it goes both ways. With that being said, keep yourself and your emotions in check, but at the same time, be mindful and cognizant of how your parents are doing while you’re away. Children and parents alike are bound to experience some sort of separation anxiety, but parents are almost always the ones who are hit the hardest, so I urge you and your parents to simply be there for one another during your first year. Send a text, call, Facetime, or even write a cute little letter to them when you have the time to do so. As an only child, you are your parents’ gravity, hands down. Help to keep them grounded as they have helped you.
- You are NOT alone! You will be the furthest thing away from being alone in your first year, like point #3 gets at. At first, I really thought I’d have a hard time connecting with people at college because I came from such a desolate town and a small high school (which is a subject for another blog post :3 ), but I want to emphasize that you have MANY opportunities to meet other people who are on the same wavelength as you are. The facilitations Pomona has in place during the first-year transition will be very helpful for only children and those with siblings alike. One of my good friends, who also happens to be my co-sponsor for the next school year, is an only child; my mentor for my Intro. to Psychological Sciences class is an only child; and even one of my dearest friends from my first year is an only child AND is also from the Philippines AND also went to Yosemite for OA, AND is also a prospective Neuroscience major. I assure you there are many more of us than you may think, and there will be an ocean of magnetic people you will be able to relate to when you come here.
I always told my parents how I would’ve loved to have a sibling, and while my badgering has not been fruitful (obviously), I did get a sense of what it’s like to NOT be an only child for a school year @ Pomona, and I will say, maybe having siblings does have some perks of its own.
Take care of yourselves.