Growing up, I was the most likely to have blazing rows with my dad, I sympathised with the underdog and I’m not a volunteer.
(At family get-togethers, I’m still the least helpful.) But a lonely outsider, struggling with an inferiority complex?
Through human evolution, birth order has determined who inherits power (the first-born) and who is sent to war (the youngest as he was the ‘spare’).
First born Historically, first-borns have been less likely to die in infancy, are less susceptible to disease and, as adults, are more likely to reproduce.
They are the babies of the family, and may grow up expecting others to take responsibility. ‘They’re more likely to put others in service.’ As the youngest of three, I can recognise myself in that.‘I lived in my older sister’s shadow, and was overlooked in favour of my younger sister,’ she says.‘I felt left out, and overcompensated by forging friendships outside the family.’ She also became a skilled negotiator. I still use those skills now, and I’m good at seeing everyone’s point of view.’ Last born The youngest children are more likely to question the order of things, and develop a ‘revolutionary personality’.These are all characteristics that fit Sarah Ruskell, 43.The eldest of three, she’s a successful academic, married with three children. ‘I had a younger sister and brother who were much naughtier on a daily basis,’ she says.For this reason, they feel like outsiders, distanced from much of life.The only child is thought to be extremely mature, aloof, someone who expects a special standing. According to Darwinian theory, they lose out as they are neither the precious, able, oldest, nor the vulnerable youngest.Whether you’re a confident but controlling first-born or a resourceful yet restless middle child, your positioning in the family can affect everything from your choice of career to how successful your marriage is The order we’re born in – first, middle or youngest child – is outside our control.So it can make us uncomfortable to think that our birth order can play a significant part in our success, our personality – the direction of our life.‘But if I was pushed, if they messed up my room or touched my records, I’d rage.Any threat to my power, I suppose.’ Another characteristic of first-borns, according to Frank Sulloway, author of Born to Rebel (Abacus), is caution and aversion to risk.