Essays & Confessions

Confessions Of Being The Only Single Friend (& 4 Lessons I’ve Learned)

By Monday, September 13, 2021

If you’re a single gal, marching to the beat of your own drum, grab your cup of coffee and get cozy. I have a pep talk for you. If you’re the type of person who puts everything into friendships and values those few, close-knit relationships, you understand how important those people are. 

I’ve been fortunate enough to have kept the same group of best friends around for a decade, and we are inseparable. They are my “ride or dies,” the Leslie Knope(s) to my Ann Perkins, the Serena(s) to my Blair (without all of the riches or drama), and I love them dearly. 

As we enter our late twenties, we now all have different careers and schedules, a few are in relationships, and a few are married and even expecting babies. Varying relationship statuses never made me bat an eye until recently. As someone currently single and okay with this, it can be a transition when close friends begin to move into a very different stage of life. 

The good thing about good friends is we love celebrating each other’s respective milestones. Nonetheless, change (even when it’s not your own) is change, and it’s helped me learn some really valuable insights about myself.

Here are four life lessons I’ve learned as the only single person in my friend group:

It’s okay to have different values 

Something that I love about my girls is that while we share some similar interests, we are so beautifully different. Our jobs, talents, or favorite TV shows aren’t the only things that set us apart – we also have different goals for ourselves in our twenties. For a few of my friends, fulfilling these dreams means getting married and starting a family. While that is something that I hope to do someday, it has not yet been a priority. And that is okay.

At twenty-eight years old, with my first two friends pregnant and others in committed relationships, I am learning that it’s important to celebrate my priorities too. For me, investing in friendships, learning about myself, and striving to succeed in my career are what fills my cup for now. The cool part? There is no right or wrong. It’s okay to value these things independently. It’s also okay to value these things with another person. And, it’s okay to have these priorities shift as you start a family. Our different priorities might mean that we can’t attend every girls night, but there is still so much we can learn from each other.

Our financial situations are our own

I am a renter and probably will be for the next couple of years. A few of my friends are homeowners. It’s easy to play the comparison game, and it only took me two decades to realize that this game is always lose-lose. When comparing myself to friends who might have a higher-paying job or the support of two incomes, it’s easy to get down about not having more in the bank. Yet, when I look at my spending habits and savings account compared to my early twenties, I am reminded of how far I’ve come and how quickly I’m growing.

Remember those different priorities we discussed? The things you value also impact where your money is going. As my friends bring their sweet kids into the world, their budget will undoubtedly change to support their new bundle of joy. Living on my own, I am only supporting myself (and my cat child), further proof that not all budgets are created equal! 

I am not alone

My besties’ relationship milestones are something that I genuinely love to celebrate (seriously, all of their significant others are vital additions to our extended friend group.) Occasionally, despite being okay in singleness, I fall prey to asking myself one very nasty question: “Am I behind?” Thanks to society and the power of a good 90’s rom-com, it’s easy to dig yourself into this hole. The ironic part is that I’m not asking myself this question because I feel I haven’t accomplished personal goals; it’s just because I am surrounded by friends who do different things. 

While it’s not a feeling I have often, I’ve learned that a change in perspective is vital when my mind begins to spew lies. No, I am not falling behind in life, nor am I *gasp* the only single person in the world. In fact, I know that there are thousands of singletons in their twenties and thirties in my city alone; and if more of my girlfriends were where I am, I’d feel differently. 

The solve? Go to happy hour with your fellow single friend! Talk about work and the trip you’re planning and the book you finished. While I wouldn’t trade my girlfriends for the world, I am learning there is merit in expanding your circle to others in the same life stage! 

My milestones matter too 

Let’s begin with a caveat: I don’t think my friends discount my accomplishments – I think sometimes I discount my accomplishments. When your friends are literally in the process of creating a human being, it can feel trivial to share that you’ve finally finished your re-read of all seven “Harry Potter” books. Okay, there’s no real comparison between the two things, but it’s okay to feel proud of personal accomplishments. 

Publishing your writing, getting rave reviews from your boss, or cooking a new meal might not be long-lasting successes, but they might be the best part of your week or month, and that counts for something. Such a big aspect of solid friendships is sharing the little things, and it’s a special bond when you can find people to celebrate these things with you. 

The best part about best friends is that we have built-in people to cheer us on for victories both big and small. Our victories might start to look different for a little while, but one thing remains the same: it’s worth popping open that bottle of champagne with the girlfriends.

Kailey Hansen is a communications specialist in the greater Chicago area. She enjoys yoga, reading, and Swiffering her apartment.

Image via Unsplash

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