‘I Am Worm, Hear Me Roar’

Birth Order and I.Q. – Nature or Nurture? “A study released a little over a week ago, which found that eldest children end up, on average, with slightly higher I.Q.’s than younger siblings, was a reminder that the fight for self-definition starts much earlier than freshman year. Families, whatever the relative intelligence of their members, often treat the firstborn as if he or she were the most academic, and the younger siblings fill in other niches: the wild one, the flirt.

These imposed caricatures, in combination with the other labels that accumulate from the sandbox through adolescence, can seem over time like a miserable entourage of identities that can be silenced only with hours of therapy.

But there’s another way to see these alternate identities: as challenges that can sharpen psychological skills. In a country where reinvention is considered a birthright, many people seem to treat old identities the way Houdini treated padlocked boxes: something to wriggle free from, before being dragged down. And psychological research suggests that this ability can be a sign of mental resilience, of taking control of your own story rather than being trapped by it.” (New York Times )