Learning to Combat Only-Child Guilt After 27 Years

After getting SO much positive feedback after posting this piece on Instagram, I’ve decided to post it here on my blog! I hope y’all can relate — please share your thoughts in the comments! I’d love to hear from my fellow only-children!


Hi! I’m Jackie, I’m 27, and I’m an only child. Err…only-adult? I’m basically Harry Potter. I have a scar on my forehead and everything. Ask me about it later. Or now. Nah, read this first and then ask later. Sidenote: Did anyone actually LIKE Now and Later candy as a child? They were impossible to chew! It was like trying to eat a piece of concrete smothered in glue. So gross.

But I digress.

So, what is “only-child guilt” and what is going on and tell me more…

RIGHT. So, it’s only recently that I’ve realized that I have this “only-child guilt.” It’s weird and I don’t totally understand it and so, naturally, I feel compelled to write about it. Perhaps someone reading this will be like, YES, I GET IT! ME TOO! *raises fingers and feet and eyebrows*

A writer can only hope.

I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflecting lately…“why I am the way I am” and the whole bit. I mean, I already know that I have OCS (Only Child Syndrome). But, like, all of the good parts of it (independent, studious, extremely loyal) and none of the bad (selfish, bratty, etc.).

Written like a true only child.

I was curious to see if I’d coined the phrase “only-child guilt” – I really want to coin a phrase before I become one with Earth’s volcanic ash, bits of turquoise, and sparkly gems – but alas I didn’t. In fact, upon Googling, I came across many articles about parents suffering from “only-child guilt.” That is, feeling guilty about having just one child. Well, that’s a bit different because I am not a parent. Rather, I’m a child. An only one. No siblings here. Wait, do dogs count? And on we go!

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My siblings.

Only-children are stereotyped as many things…selfish brats who don’t know how to share, play well with others, or share. Did I mention sharing isn’t really our thing? I’m learning. Shh.

In fact, in 1977, psychologist Toni Falbo stated that the presence of siblings “is popularly assumed to have both positive and negative effects, but the lack of siblings is believed to have only negative consequences.”

Now, I don’t believe that to be entirely true– being an only child has been quite a positive experience.

DON’T TOUCH MY COOKIES. GET YOUR OWN YOU CRAZY MONSTER!

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Cookie in hand, per usual.

Deep breaths. There are enough cookies to go around. (We all know there aren’t.)

Growing up, I wasn’t just the only child in my immediate family. I was also the only grandchild on both sides of my family for the first nine years of my life. The only niece. The only nephew.

Wait, that’s not right…

You get it. I was the only baby-toothed rascal in a world of folks who were taller than me. (Spoiler alert: Nothing’s changed except those babies are now adults with fillings and crowns because I’m actually the cookie monster. Shhhh. Root canals are fun!)

I loved it. Being an only child, that is. (Root canals are NOT fun.) I never felt I was missing out by not having a sibling. I’d watch my friends fight with their brothers and sisters and think, Thank GOODNESS I don’t have to deal with that crap! Sharing is most certainly NOT caring!

I promise I’m working on it. Sharing is great. Except don’t touch my cookies.

SANTA, I’M LOOKING AT YOU.

As an only child, I was the apple, orange, mango, and kiwi of my parents’ eyes. Sometimes a persimmon if I was lucky, but let’s not get greedy. Sure, I was kept in a bit of a protective bubble but I was the only kid my parents had! I mean, wasn’t it fair that my mom didn’t let me join the high school tennis team out of an irrational fear that I’d break my wrist?

Or worse!

My parents had huge hopes and dreams and goals and all that good stuff for me. And I was the academic nerd who would deliver! Don’t do drugs! Sex equals babies! Babies suck! I’m an only child! Perfection is key! Roar, roar!

It’s a funny thing when you don’t have siblings. You’re not just one of your parent’s kids.

You are THE kid.

Golden-only-lonely-protected-in-a-bubble-safety-wrapped-for-preservation-little-adorable-picture-perfect kiddo.

I didn’t take many risks as a kid. I played it safe. I looked both ways before crossing the suburban streets riddled with squirrels and crunchy leaves. I never snuck out of Fort Knox– er, I mean my house. I studied and stayed home reading rather than going out most weekends. I knew that my parents literally lived and worked for me so who was I to do anything daring or rebellious, surely risking death or worse…cataclysmic embarrassment!

I didn’t know it as a youngin’ but all of this craziness would stir into a mad mix of bubbly emotions that I’m now calling “only-child guilt.”

I got good grades, was admitted into a great university, landed an incredible job in my chosen career, and was very much making my parents proud. But I felt lost and unhappy a lot… as if I was living a life that wasn’t really mine. It was the one chosen for me. Purchased for me. Where I grew up, it was common to be told you could do and be anything with the underlying expectation that that really meant moving into the city (New York, that is) and working your way up the corporate ladder of whatever industry to be “successful.”

And that sounds hella privileged and I realize that but my feelings shouldn’t be discounted because of the situation I was born into and please know that I am absolutely cringing writing these words but I hope people can relate to it and know that not everything is so very black and white. UGH.

In having just one child, my dad could afford to put me through college and I’m so grateful for that. I can’t imagine having to pay back student loans on a writer’s salary (we can’t all be Carrie Bradshaw, folks). But now I feel this only-child guilt more than ever. I’ve been given so much and often feel as though I’m not living up to what’s expected of me. But I don’t want my life to be about climbing some elusive, imaginary ladder and I don’t care about making much money. I rather climb real mountains! Hoorah!

But then I feel guilty that I’m not making the most of the resources I’ve been given.

Why am I not happy where I am? I just want to give everything away and go somewhere new and different. Away from everyone and everything I’ve ever known based on a feeling. A warm, happy, incredible, adventurous, magical feeling that I want to chase chase chase.

But, you see, my parents are my parents. And sometimes I worry that that’s the only identity they have, especially since they had me while they were still so young. I’m not sure they know who they are without me. That’s a lot of pressure. And I don’t have a sibling to offset any of that pressure.

I’m SO different from my parents in so many ways and I often feel bad that they don’t have a child who is more like them.

How the hell did they end up with such a weird unicorn of a child?

Not that I don’t have anything in common with my mom or dad, but I do have a compulsive need to travel and go go go go go that neither one of them really shares. I mean, my mother has never even been on an airplane.

I KNOW.

It’s weird to share my DNA with people who I’m so completely different from.

Writing this piece stems from a conversation I recently had with my parents about me moving. I’ve lived in and out of NYC since graduating college (as expected) and I recently moved back home to save money while I figure out my next move (as very much not expected). And now I’m thinking that my next move will be farther than either of my parents had ever imagined.

I received a lot of pushback from my folks during this conversation which surprised me; they’ve always supported my travels but they know that I always come back. I may be a Runaway Rapetti but I always seem to run back to NY.

On top of that, I have folks telling me that I shouldn’t move because it’s so far away and what if something happens and family is the most important thing and what the hell is in Montana and your degree will go to waste and you won’t have the same opportunities and it’s SO far away.

And then I find myself feeling guilty again, asking myself: Why don’t you just go back into TV? Why don’t you find a company you actually like enough to stick with and make enough money to live on your own and create a life in NYC? Why can’t you just be happy here, near your family? Why can’t you just be everything you were ever expected to be?

And then I realize it’s because I’m not happy here. Sure, I’m ambitious and smart enough to climb the corporate ladder if I wanted to…but I don’t. I’ve been ambitious enough to create a living for myself without having to report to an actual office every day — I’ve hustled and worked hard for the nomadic life I’ve created for myself.

I want a storied life. I need it.

My dad calls me a whirlwind because I’m always changing my mind about things, which is absolutely true. But I’m learning now that my “only-child guilt” is a major factor in every decision I’ve ever made. I’m a whirlwind because I keep coming back! I appear to never know what I’m doing because I feel guilty about actually diving full-steam ahead into what I truly want…which isn’t the same as what my parents want for me! I may not have realized that ten years ago as I embarked on my college career, but I’m finally learning.

It’s like I’ve been denying my innermost desires so that I can stay close to home and try to live up to my parent’s expectations. The thing is, I didn’t choose to grow up in suburban NY. But I can choose where I go next.

I love my parents and am thankful for the life they’ve given me but this is not just a new chapter in my life, this is a new BOOK. And maybe they need a new book too.

People need to know that they can’t have children and expect that they will want all the same things that you may want for them. You can’t expect that they will think and act and be just like you. And you can’t expect them to stay stay stay because just like stagnant water that shit can be HAZARDOUS.

I may be 100% of their combined DNA but I’m also stardust and light and adventure and I’m no longer the kid who is content with sticking to what’s “safe”. I’ve always been a bit weird and quirky and I’m finally ready to embrace that completely, even if it means following pursuits that my parents don’t fully understand. They don’t have to.

I am not my parents and no longer do I have to feel guilty about that.

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I will be their ‘Wacky Jackie’ no matter where in the world I am.

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

 

I Asked My Tinder Matches THIS Question and Their Answers Surprised Me

This post is for all y’all transitioning from divorce to dating. And it’s also for those looking for a bit of entertainment… 😂

Alright, so you may or may not remember the time I eloped. TBH, not many people do…

Exhibit A.

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Exhibit B.

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Alright, I get it! Y’all forgot! Probably because it was extremely short-lived and every time someone said ‘Congratulations!‘ I wanted to hurl be like…uh, for what?

I don’t regret it but I’ll be the first to say it was a mistake. Like, attempting to cut your own bangs or sharing highly personal information on the internet! Oh, wait… Whoopsie!

To me, marriage is not a big deal. It’s not an accomplishment. It’s not something you should aspire to do just because. But, I realize not everyone agrees with me on that.

And it’s a huge deal to some people.

So, as I dove back into the dating world (Lord, help me), I was curious what guys would think about dating a soon-to-be divorcée (I’m still technically married on paper but literally that’s the extent of the relationship).

I embarked on this social experiment because so many friends have asked me if I’m going to tell these dudes about my situation. I’ve thought about it myself…like, I’m not technically divorced yet so how do I bring that up? Like, at the end of a date should I say, “Surprise! You just went on a date with a married woman!”?

😂

Probably not. So, I decided to ask these guys straight up and their answers (pleasantly!) surprised me!

First, there was Noah.

He’d been burned before and was a bit cautious about the whole thing…but he seemed to get over it relatively quickly.

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Then there was Cody.

His opening line was lacking but he ended up asking a lot of questions which led to a great conversation.

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He proceeded to ask what kind of ceremony I had, what my parents thought about the divorce, etc. He seemed very intrigued by it all and ended up asking me to dinner by the end of it. 😂 Dinner is pending, as is my divorce.

Adam was next.

Though it was something he’d never considered, he seemed extremely unbothered by it.

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Andrew didn’t seem to care much either.

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Never, Andrew. The answer is never.

Now, Duncan.

He was the first to give me the answer I had honestly expected more of…

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Granted, he did change his perspective when I expanded on my current situation…

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Honestly, I was expecting an “oh hell no” somewhere peppered in these responses, but nothing! These guys truly surprised me!

I then “met” Brendan and asked him the same question. His answers were long and thoughtful, and my favorite. It was no surprise to find out he’s a fellow writer.

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Isn’t Brendan the best? I mean that flower comparison, come on!!

So, there ya have it! If you’re going through a divorce, don’t worry what others will think. I figured guys would unmatch me after getting this question (some might’ve, I didn’t notice), but I really enjoyed reading their answers! Granted, some didn’t reply at all…probably afraid of why I’d asked. 😂

Disclaimer: I’m not coming out of a long marriage with tons of baggage (no kids, well, no dogs in my case, etc. etc.) but even if I were, in Adam’s words, “Everyone’s an adult, we all have a part. Past.”

Thoughts? Comment below!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

A Commitment-Phobe’s Commitment to Travel

Jobs, relationships, apartments, vegetarianism . . . these are all things I struggle to commit to.

Heck, I still even question the college I went to . . . and I graduated 5 years ago! 😂

Always on the hunt for new opportunities and experiences, I fear getting stuck in a rut.

The term “settling down” gives me nightmares.

I recently met up with a fellow traveler I met three years ago during my first solo expedition and we talked about our insatiable need to explore and see the world. I confessed that sometimes I wish I had no desire at all to travel; that I could simply be happy in one spot – stable, committed, and satisfied.

But el oh el then I wouldn’t be RUNAWAY RAPETTI!

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While some people can commit to jobs and places and people for years and years and years, I can commit to something too . . .

TRAVEL!!

Planes, trains, and automobiles – if there’s a ticket in my name, you can bet I’ll be there.

Not only that but it also goes hand in hand with my commitment to always be learning, dreaming, and growing. As much as I loved school, I’ve learned that the best classroom is somewhere right outside of your comfort zone.

I’m a textbook INTJ and yet I choose to travel solo because it gives me two things:

  1. My much-needed alone time. Hallelujah! 😂
  2. The push for ‘extroverted Jackie’ to come out and meet new folks!

Whether you’re a vagabond, a gypsy, or a runaway like me, I hope you enjoy every minute of your journey – and don’t forget to spread kindness and cheer along the way!

Next Stop: Grindavik!

Will you run away with me?!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

Picnics and Conflicts: Life at 26

Hi y’all! Rapetti Review had quite the hiatus but is back with a fun rebrand — say hello to the new and improved Runaway Rapetti!

GUYS. My twenty-sixth year around the sun has been a little nuts – from dealing with my first break-up (See? I wasn’t kidding about being a late bloomer…) to moving back home after a short-lived stint in Astoria, I’m still very much figuring out what’s next for me. Life isn’t always the picnic folks make it out to be on Instagram (myself included), but it’s all a learning experience, amiright?!

Recently, I attended my cousin’s Sweet 16 party (sidenote: when did high schooler’s get so grown-up looking?) the other night and couldn’t believe my own was 11-years-ago this September.

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My Sweet 16, circa 2007

If somebody had asked me back then what I’d be doing 11 years from now, my answer probably would’ve been: “Living in NYC, working for a fashion magazine, aspiring to be the next Miranda Priestly.” If you had asked me a year later, during my senior year of high school, my answer would’ve been less fashion-y, more news-y (I became enthralled with Anderson Cooper and had high hopes of working alongside him as a broadcast journalist).

 

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My cousin Jess’ Sweet 16

Since graduating college, I’ve had a number of jobs…from working at Barnes & Noble…to ABC News and NBC News…in and out of NYC…trying to figure out what I liked and what I didn’t.

And there was a lot that I didn’t…😂 

I realized traveling was a true passion of mine and I didn’t want to be another cog in the machine, waiting for my vacation days to accumulate… only to jet off and come back to a dull desk job.

So, last year I decided to ditch the desk and work for myself, full-time! I’m a freelance writer, editor, and so-called ‘Jackie of all trades.’ I have tons of great clients and I occasionally write for travel sites, including The Vacation Times.

I’m always looking for my next gig so if you’re in need of a content creator, check out my ‘Hire Me’ page here

I originally started ‘Rapetti Review’ while working at NBC News back in 2015 and the reviews were to be food-related. That aspect of the blog faded as I traveled more and then turned towards a pescetarian diet in 2016. I’ve always enjoyed a good bite to eat but focusing my blog around it wasn’t me.

So, I welcome you to the new Runaway Rapetti blog! If you’re new here, check out my About page to learn a bit more about the gal behind the words!

I’m excited to share my adventures with y’all … in fact, I’m heading back to Europe this Friday! I’m flying to Scotland (with a 20-hour layover in Iceland) and then I’m off to Copenhagen, London, and wherever else the wind takes me!

Will you run away with me?!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

 

 

WOW: A Dream Job!

Hey guys! It’s been a minute since I’ve posted anything new for y’all — it’s already May and I have yet to hop on a plane in 2018! Eek! Something’s gotta change! Speaking of . . .

This month, I had planned to book some trips for the summer, as well as a trip to Montana for my 27th birthday in September. While I still plan on doing Montana, my pending summer plans may change. Why?

Have you heard about WOW air’s Summer Travel Guide competition? No? Check it out here! It’s an incredible opportunity to create content for this wonderful budget airline, all while traveling the world with your best friend! So, naturally, my bff Spencer and I made a video of our hometown: New York!

I can’t imagine a better way to spend the summer! In fact, I feel like I’ve been training for this very job over the past couple of years. I’ve been writing a lot of content for The Vacation Times as of late (you can always catch my recent posts here) and I’ve been attempting to step up my Insta game as well!

Remember my trip to Iceland back in 2016? I flew there via WOW air from Boston for $99! Doesn’t get better than that. Plus, who doesn’t want to fly in a bright purple airplane?

imageI’m still convinced I have Icelandic blood running through my veins (forever in denial about these DNA results of mine). I prefer the cool weather anyway (I’m currently melting in this NY heatwave we’re having ughhh)! Watch my video, subscribe to my YouTube channel, throw us a ‘thumbs up’ or a comment, and I’ll be forever grateful!

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie