Learning to Combat Only-Child Guilt After 20-Something Years

Hi! I’m Jackie, I’m 28, 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?

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 felt 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.).

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 11.28.21 AM.png

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!

198059_6349220117_1715_n
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 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.”

Are you fucking kidding me, Toni?
Being an only child has been quite a positive experience.

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

1923378_13048980117_3492_n
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. Ever.

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?!

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.

20181008_195953

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 earned good grades, was admitted into an excellent university, landed an incredible job in my chosen career, and was very much the picture-perfect epitome of what it looked like to “make one’s 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. Ugh, that sounds hella privileged, I KNOW.

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.”

10152327887910118
NERD ALERT.

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 in recent years, I’ve felt this only-child guilt more than ever. I’ve been given so much and felt as though I wasn’t living up to what was expected of me. But climbing some elusive, imaginary ladder seemed so lame! I’d rather climb real mountains! Hoorah!

But then the guilt creeps back…

Why am I not happy where I am?, I thought ALL THE DAMN TIME. 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 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 wrote the original version of this piece in October of 2018, after having a conversation with my parents about potentially moving from New York to Montana. I received a lot of pushback from my folks during this conversation which surprised me. I mean, they had always supported my travels! But then I realized they also knew I’d always come back.

I may be a Runaway Rapetti but I always seemed to run back to NY.

And then I found myself feeling guilty about the prospect of moving to Montana: Why don’t you just go back into broadcast? 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?

image
The face you make when you are FED THE FUCK UP and NEED A DAMN CHANGE. Jk Ty was just taking forever to take this damn photo. Love you GURL.

But I want a storied life. I need it.

For years, I appeared to never know what I was doing because I felt guilty about actually diving full-steam ahead into what I truly wanted…which was never the same as what my parents wanted for me! I may not have realized that ten years ago as I embarked on my college career, but I’m finally learning.

I spent too many years denying my innermost desires in an effort to stay close to home. The thing is, I didn’t choose to grow up in suburban NY. But I can choose where I go next. And I did!!!

fullsizeoutput_c1c
MONTANA, YOU PRETTY THANG!

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, just mayyyybe, 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 you may want for them. You can’t expect 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 embracing 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.

Screen Shot 2018-10-18 at 4.41.00 PM.png

I will continue to be their ‘Wacky Jackie’ from all parts, near and far.

Spread kindness and cheer, xo
Jackie

The Mystique of Missed Connections

Ever locked eyes with a handsome stranger in aisle 1,467 of Walmart as you reached for those Slipper Genie Dusting Slippers that you saw an infomercial for that one time as you sipped your rosé and laughed to your cat named Smittens, thinking, those are SO silly! but then you awoke to cold feet and a lackluster floor and, well, here you are. Wait, where are we? Ah, yes, the handsome stranger! Unbeknownst to you, mystery Joe over there is making a mental note of not only your velvet scrunchie and neon Skechers but also your seemingly pathological indecisiveness when it comes to choosing a color! He laughs to himself as you muse aloud, “Ooh, lavender might be nice. Calming, even. But I do LOVE green.”

Green it is. You grab the box, smile politely at Joe, – whoa, are his eyes BLUEGREEN?!?!? – and make your way back down the 1,467 aisles, among all the people of Walmart, to fork over the $10 that you were going to spend on another three bottles of wine but the slippers just seem more important right now. Your floor IS dirty.

And then there’s Joe. Ah, Joe. He’s moved on to aisle 837 (socks) and is now kicking himself that he didn’t say anything to the brunette in the cat-hair-covered sweats in aisle 1,467. In the 6.43 minutes you spent choosing slippers, Joe was cooking up one-liners as he mindlessly picked up and put down various items in the As Seen On TV aisle (aisle 1,467, to be exact).

Hmm, maybe a Bacon Wave would be nice, he ponders. Then, you make your lavender comment and Joe stifles a laugh. He’s thinking of something to say, something like, You know what’s a foot long and slippery? A slipper! Good God, Joe, could you BE any creepier?! He keeps his mouth shut, puts down the Bacon Wave, picks up a Quick Taco Baking Rack because why the hell not and, well, here we are.

Two people and a silly shared moment. Two people noticeably noticing one another, yet not sharing a word. In the olden days, perhaps a mail carrying pigeon would be sent by one in hopes of finding the other. But, alas, we live in the modern era – oh, joy! Oh, JOE. He can’t get the scrunchie-sweatpants gal out of his head.

THANK GOODNESS FOR CRAIGLIST MISSED CONNECTIONS.

Joe, 28, scurries home to let out grandpa – his dog, not his relative – and then sits down for a nice mindless scroll on the ol’ Insta, @yoitsjoe747. He has a new follower, @itsmefromcraigslist. (Oh, wait that’s ME. #shamelessplug) Huh, people still do this? Maybe I should…nah, that’d be WEIRD. Ah, what the hell. *chugs another beer* 

Joe types:

Subject: Walmart, Aisle 1,467, Anywheresville, USA

“To the brunette with the scrunchie – was that velvet?? – and neon Skechers picking out those silly “As Seen On TV” dusting slippers this afternoon. I didn’t need a TV to SEE you. I think I might be in love with you. I’ll give you a mess to clean up!

GOOD GOD, JOE, GET IT TOGETHER. 

I think you’re lovely and I was amused by your delight in picking out those slippers! I ended up buying some ridiculous taco shell maker thing myself. Perhaps we can have an As Seen On TV date! Fish tacos, anyone? Let’s taco bout it soon! Oh, by the way, I’m Joe!”

*uploads…aaaand it’s live. 

And wouldn’t you know it, our mystery brunette, Daria, 26, is a fellow weirdo who LOVES a good missed connection. In fact, it’s a bit of a nightly ritual for her to read through the posts from Anywheresville, USA. She’s just finished dancing/dusting around her studio apartment – Smittens looking on in HORROR – and she curls up with her laptop. And that’s when she sees it:

Walmart, Aisle 1,467, Anywheresville, USA” 

Daria is SHOOK, as they say. She reads the post, immediately recognizing herself in it. She laughs, it’s silly, but oh, good God, what the f–

Fish tacos, seriously?? Does this ass think he’s being FUNNY? 

RE: Subject: Walmart, Aisle 1,467, Anywheresville, USA

Are you serious, Joe? Fish tacos? Are you some kind of pervert who hangs out in aisle 1,467 just for funsies? I bet you’re the type who would make some sick joke like, “You know what’s a foot long and slippery? A slipper!” But you wouldn’t be talking about a SLIPPER, would you, Joe? I AM SO GLAD I MISSED OUT ON YOU. 

Well, we showed him Smittens.

A reply? Already? *clicks* oh my God, oh my God, I am an IDIOT. Fish tacos, I literally meant FISH like– oh BLOODY HELL. I do wish I were British so I could say that more often. UGH BUT WHY DIDN’T I JUST SAY CHICKEN. JEEEEZUSSSS. I KNEW I SHOULD’VE WENT WITH THE BACON WAVE. 


Or, Joe could’ve just said something in-person?! Gah, I’m endlessly amused and fascinated by the Missed Connection section on Craigslist. In fact, yes, I recently made an Instagram dedicated to these poetic posts. It’s as sad as it is heartwarming– all of these lost souls, exchanging sweet smiles and small talk at gas stations, bodegas, and dog parks around the world (JK, we’re all just looking at the doggos and puppers there). I’m a weirdo; equal parts cynic, equal parts romantic. I mean, I married my first fucking boyfriend because HOW ROMANTIC but in retrospect, so silly omg (it didn’t work out, most marriages don’t – THE CYNIC IS BACK YAY). ANYWAY… I used to dream of the person who’d finally fall madly in love with me and how it could literally be anyone and I’d walk around thinking, could it be him? That guy stocking shelves in Trader Joe’s! He was humming…a JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE song?!?!? Señorita?!!?! And he smiled at me! And omg I’ll never see him again but WHAT IF IT’S HIM AND IT’S MEANT TO BE. *posts a note on Craigslist* JK, never did that, but I LOVE the people who do. And SURE there are creepers like fictitious Joe out there, well OK, maybe he actually wasn’t being gross but Daria will never know what really lies behind those blue-green eyes, will she?! But there’s something weirdly romantic about someone taking the time to write something out, to try and get your attention, to say “hey! I noticed you! did you notice me noticing you? will you notice me back?” When I worked in NYC, I thought about this OFTEN, like WAY too often, as I rode Metro-North to and from Grand Central every day. What if, instead of a quiet car we had a social car?! These are things I’d think about. ALL THE TIME. And I still do, tbh. As introverted as I am, I wish folks were more social and less weird about, well, being weird. But, I guess it IS easier when alcohol is involved. C’est la vie. In closing, (lol am I writing a fucking dissertation? idk), here are some curated Craigslist Missed Connections for ya – a lot of y’all are missing each other at various marts of Wal, FYI.


screen shot 2019-01-22 at 11.43.09 pmscreen shot 2019-01-22 at 11.44.09 pmscreen shot 2019-01-22 at 11.45.25 pmscreen shot 2019-01-22 at 11.46.19 pmScreen Shot 2019-01-22 at 11.47.31 PM.pngscreen shot 2019-01-22 at 11.48.47 pmScreen Shot 2019-01-22 at 11.49.32 PM.pngscreen shot 2019-01-22 at 11.51.21 pmScreen Shot 2019-01-22 at 11.52.04 PM.png

From Hawaii to North Dakota, folks are just trying to find love at their local Walmart. Follow @itsmefromcraigslist for alllll missed connections, not just Walmart.

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.

1923362_11947435117_3405_n.jpg
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).

 

36536855_10160624192800118_7254792923697381376_n (1).jpg
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

 

 

Reykjavík Vlog

Hey, y’all!

If you read my last post, then you already know I’m applying for WOW air’s Summer Travel Guide competition. I could not be more excited about this opportunity! The chosen winner will live in Reykjavík from June 1st to mid-August — with their best friend!

Oh, and the pair will travel to not one, not two, but EIGHT WOW air destinations during their time abroad, creating unique and entertaining travel guides along the way!

AND . . . the chosen pair will get to actually PICK where they’d like to go. From Alicante and Amsterdam to Salzburg and Warsaw, WOW air flies to SO many incredible places.

The airline is looking for a “dynamic duo, ideally two content creators” to embark on this journey. While I don’t have a massive YouTube following by any means, I am a content creator by day (mostly written content), but I actually really enjoy video editing.

After editing and uploading my WOW air submission video, my creative juices were still flowing and I put together a short little piece about my time in Reykjavík. I went there for just a couple of days back in Feb. 2016 and fell in love with this quirky little city. If you want to see what I thought of eating fermented shark and sheep’s brain, definitely watch the video for a laugh!

Disclaimer: This was before I chose the vegetarian life!

And, if you haven’t already, please watch my local’s guide to NYC!

Give it a thumbs up, comment, and subscribe to my channel!

I plan on posting some more short vlogs from past travels — and hopefully more from upcoming travels this summer!

Thanks for joining me on this journey!

Let me know what you think of my NY local’s guide — did you already know about these hidden gems? What would you recommend folks see in NY or in your own hometown?

Let me know in the comments!

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