My name is Jack. I grew up an only child. I was also an only grandchild on both sides. The youngest of all my cousins and the only child in a small neighborhood that consisted of a bunch of adults, I never really learned what it meant to just be a kid. And I certainly never learned how to relate to other children.
Accustomed to being around primarily adults, I was always mature for my age. Even my own friends often annoyed me during my adolescent years. I had a lot of people who invested in me, and I excelled at most of my many and varied hobbies. I did well in school, often knowing how to do complex math problems before the concept had even been introduced to our class. Looking back, I’m sure I was quite smug, although I didn’t realize it at the time. Unfortunately, self-awareness wasn’t something I learned until many years later.
In high school, I began to tire of the pressure placed on me by my family and their high expectations. I gradually stopped my extra-curricular activities, including music and art lessons, and chose to work instead. I graduated at the top of my class, although I wasn’t valedictorian—perhaps because I didn’t want to give my overbearing family the satisfaction. And then I chose a large public university a lot farther from home than the small private college my parents hoped I’d attend. I wanted to be a small fish in a big pond for a change.