I grew up as an only child with involved parents, which was great. My parents gave me all of the tools I need to succeed and throughout my life, they always kept me accountable. Throughout my childhood and high school, I never had to think about what success really meant for me or how I could become successful because my parents laid that framework for me. I did not motivate myself or work for myself. My parents knew what they wanted for me and I did not question it. When I went off on my own, I realized my parents were not there to tell me how to succeed every step of the way.
Only Child: Accountability For Self or For Others
Going off to SMU taught me how to keep myself accountable and to succeed for myself, not others. As an only child, I never had the motivation to excel in school because I did what others told me. I was never sure what I was exactly working toward. I did well in high school but did not remotely tap into my full potential. Then I got to SMU. I saw people working hard all of the time without anyone telling them to do so. I realized how hard I needed to work to do well. Learning became enjoyable, especially when I understood a new concept and achieved better grades. Most importantly, I could finally conceptualize my own idea of success. SMU gave me a space to learn who I am when others aren’t around.
Finding My Interests
Almost everything my parents taught me was true, including their conception of success for me. What SMU allowed me to learn, though, was how I would go about succeeding. I became an “only adult” rather than an only child. Quickly, I determined I can succeed in areas of life that I am most interested in. Soon, I figured out there are different ways to go about reaching your goals, and what works for one person might not work for you. If I have to do something I don’t like, it’s hard for me to put the time and effort into doing it that is needed to do well.
My interests, as you would expect, differ from my parents’. Focusing on my interests and learning as much as I can about those interests has led me to not only do some of my best work but also fuels my passion further. When I am able to focus on my interests, I do much better academically, but I am also more content in my own life. I was able to learn that my academic or work life is tied inextricably to other areas of my life, which is not the case for everybody. When I work hard and produce good work, I feel like I add more value to myself as a whole.
Final Thoughts: Parents Were Right
As an only child, my parents have always been leaders in my life. Like many parents, they wanted me to succeed in all aspects of my life. While I understood this desire, I never truly knew what it meant until I was off on my own. I figured out quickly that what works for my parents doesn’t necessarily work for me. Every person has their strong suits, and I now know how to harness my own strengths to do well in life rather than relying on what works for others. I learned that my whole life I was marching toward my parents’ conception of success for me but was unsure why. Being on my own has helped me realize what success means to me, which funnily enough, is the same conception of success my parents have wanted for me my whole life.