According to Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler theory, the birth order influences personality in many ways. He argues “birth order can leave an indelible impression on an individual’s style of life, which is one’s habitual way of dealing with the tasks of friendship, love, and work.” This theory, developed in early 20th century, has been further researched in today’s popular psychology.
Another theory, introduced by American psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman has been striking to me.
In his book “The First Born Advantage”, Dr. Leman emphasizes “firstborns were born to win. Clearly the natural movers, shakers, and leaders of this world, they can accomplish anything they set their minds to. They’re the high achievers, the benchmark-setters, the business moguls, the concert violinists, the heads of the PTA. But if they’re out of balance, they can be overly perfectionistic, driven, and critical. They can become controllers (everything has to go their way) or pleasers (exhausting themselves in meeting the demands of others).”
Being the first child, in my case, meant I have to break the ice and negotiate for everything – like first time going to a club, how long I could stay out, first summer high school job, going to the movies alone etc. I always thought that my sister, two years younger, had a much easier time than me, as I did it all first and she just silently followed. Looking from this perspective, she had a much better strategy.
However, my voice raised to fight for my “rights” has helped me later in life in many occasions, namely in the professional environment. I learned how to speak up for myself, when nobody else will, how to present my ideas, when there is no support, how to find opportunities, as there will be no other chances…my voice has also made me the voice of my friends who didn’t or couldn’t speak for themselves – in the classroom, in their families, in the office…Speaking for their rights, made me feel that there is a justice that needs to come into view, as I learned how to from an early age.
Here is an interesting ABC coverage on firstborns.