Do you know what is the biggest and harshest reminder that I am fast approaching my mid-20s? Not my slowing metabolism, the introduction of wrinkles on my forehead (my animated expressions are having a long term effect) or the fact that I have now been working full time for 5 years. Though sometimes these things do help me to consider how time has passed and that I’m not as young as I was.
But the real stinger and flashing red light that things are changing is my Facebook newsfeed. The news of engagement, weddings, pregnancy and then finally, birth (such a drawn out process, honestly!) I am happy for them, and I’m not saying that while simultaneously shooting daggers, I genuinely mean it. These stages are beautiful and a reflection of human development and growth. Eventually, intentionally or not, we expand our lives by starting families. I am in full support of this, especially since it involves men and babies and I like these two things.
Except, I’m not doing it yet so nobody else should be. Or that’s how I feel anyway.
I got into a committed relationship when I was 19, and most of my friends were still single and being “young”. I was young obviously, but lived a more settled and mature life. Though I was happy, there was an element of FOMO because I fell to the wayside of the fast moving London social scene. Now, I’m single at 23 and while a couple of my best friends are also unattached, a lot of people are paired up and if not engaged/married already, the aisle is in sight.
The problem is, kids, is that I’ve gone and done it the wrong way around. After being in happy-couple-land for a few years, all of a sudden I had no boyfriend and a lot of spare time. I was like “heeey where my gurlz at, let’s go out yo.” And they were like “ehh I’m gonna stay home with ______ tonight” and I was all “oh no, I’m too late, I’VE MISSED THE BOAT!” And then I died. Okay maybe not, but I realised that life had moved on and things had changed without me noticing. While talking (moaning) about all this to a fellow single friend recently and jokingly (seriously) abusing everyone for moving on with their lives (“how dare they”), she made a really good call. It was a refreshing slap in the face, if such a thing existed; “Yeah but imagine if we all stayed the same! How boring!”
How right she was. I wouldn’t wish ‘the same’ on anyone, particularly in such defining and amazing years as our twenties. If absolutely nothing – not your friendships, job, goals, motivation, beliefs or relationship status – has changed at all in the last five years, then dare I say it, you’re doing it wrong. If you have not developed, grown, challenged or expanded your mind in any way, that’s a problem. Life is about evolving and hopefully becoming better (not bitter) through experience of people, culture and occupation. Whether it’s from stacking shelves at the supermarket or working in parliament; it’s about learning. If it’s through recovering your broken heart or taking a risk with the person you fancy; it’s about using your heart.
This is why I am genuinely pleased to see my friends getting hitched and knocked up; because they’re taking big and beautiful steps in the grand picture of life. Steps that aren’t always easy, and that sometimes challenge their very core. They are growing. The selfish part of me cries out for our old friendship when they didn’t have such responsibility, but if all of my friends were still single and as selfish as me, I would be worried for all of us.
Whether people want to admit it or not, marriage and children changes the dynamics of friendship with singles. I’m a quality time person and 100% brutal, so I have considered just replacing every friend I have lost to the Family Epidemic (save yourselves!), but it turns out that they are too amazing to lose. Well I’ll be darned, it’s true love. So what I’ve learned in my early experiences as ‘the single friend’ is this: the friends that are worth it will make the time for me, and I can support them by being flexible and understanding.
Honestly when it all comes down to it, I just want to be the best friend I can be, regardless of whatever stage that we’re in. To share in their experiences and do life with them, from talking weddings to which crib to buy. I may not completely understand (“your baby needs to be fed HOW often?”) but I do care and I have a part to play. While I’m not quite there yet, I’m learning so much and am incredibly blessed by the families in my life. Plus, they love hearing the tales of my awesomely pathetic love life, so it’s the perfect trade-off!
I love babies and I love husbands, even if they are not mine. In the next five to ten years, things will change even more for my friends and I. I’m up for it, and I know one day it will be me that’s making the big decisions.
I know I’m not the only one in this position! Put your hand up if you share any of my thoughts. Do you have any advice for singles or couples on how to be good friends to each other, despite the different stage of life?