Head strong? Determined? Motivated? If you are a first born child, chances are you’ve heard this before. First borns everywhere will nod in union when they hear themselves generally being described as children, teenagers and adults who want to succeed, do the right thing, be good at what we do. Sometimes we are early achievers. Sometimes we cannot deal with doing a job, unless it’s done well. It’s no secret that your birth order can have an effect on your personality and your relationships . As a first born myself (I’m the eldest of four), it really has made me think about the way I interact with others, but also the way I feel about myself. It has made me accept certain things, but also feel frustrated about the way I behave.
According to parenting.com, as leaders of the pack, first borns tend to be:
At first glance, these traits can mostly be seen as positive. However there are also some traits that find us feeling frustrated, cautious and stressed. First borns can be perfectionists, afraid of failure and overly worried about making mistakes. As a first born I have always wanted to be the best at what I do. I’ve never been good knowing when I’ve done a good job, and have always really relied on praise and feedback from others to help me know that I’ve done well. This has been frustrating as I know that external affirmation of work is not always possible. I need to be able to feel good about what I’ve done in myself, and in my own heart. Some people might see this as needy, and I do too. It’s annoying that I need to be told that I’ve done a great job, in order to feel that I’ve done a great job. Whether it’s work, cooking a meal, designing a print. I’m always searching for someone to tell me it’s great, in order for me to think it’s in fact…great!
This has made me think about Ella. In her I see much of myself. This is obvious I guess, but her being a first born girl, just like her Mum has made me aware of traits in her that are positive, and traits that are not so. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I’m motivated and always up for a challenge, but I also don’t want my daughter inherit my need for praise. I see her wanting to be a ‘good girl’. I see her wanting to get things right and not dissapoint anyone. There is a fine balance, and as a Mum, as a First Born daughter who is also a Mum, I want to make sure that I raise her to feel empowered and powerful in her own abilities. To trust her judgement. To know that she can achieve anything, but to also feel good about herself and her efforts. Not worry about what others think.
Ella is also highly emotional, just like her Mum. I don’t know why but there must be something inate about feeling every emotion, about crying at the drop of a hat. All I know is that both Ella and I are females who cry. We cry about everything. Whilst this helps us to be sensitive towards others, it also makes life hard when we feel every thing. This first born trait is one that can cause a great deal of stress, especially when you are aspiring to be good at what you do.
A few years ago I did the Myers-Briggs personality inventory and for those of you who know it, my profile came us as ENFJ.
E = Extrovert (I get my energy from around people)
N = Intuitive (I am big picture, I don’t worry about specifics)
F = Feelings Based (I make my decisions based on what I feel, not on what it logical)
J = Judgement (I make decisions quickly, not dwelling)
This has honestly changed my life, particularly at work. It has helped me to understand myself, the way I make decisions and the way I work with people. I would recommend it to anyone. Being a Mum, it has helped me to understand that I need to foster these traits in my children, but also help them to move on from them. I need to help my children to be aware of feelings, but also to understand logic and reason. I want Ella to be able to trust herself. I want Ella to be able to make decisions because they are the right, not because they please people.
I am really proud of myself in what I have achieved. I’ve done my Masters, become a Deputy Principal, created two small businesses, I’ve got a beautiful partner in my husband and we are raising a beautiful family. I’m a great friend, and love my family with all my heart. I’m a good person and always try to do right by others. In many ways being a First Born, raising a First Born is both exciting and frightening. I want her to be like me, and yet I also don’t. Particularly in the way she feels about herself, and feeling good enough about her own self worth. Not needing validation from others. This is something that I’ve grown to know about myself that I want to improve. That I am enough. It sounds deep, but it’s really important.
I want her to feel proud of herself and not to worry if she stumbles along the way. Maybe she can teach me a few things in the years to come.
*Photography thanks to Kate Di Blasi Photography