As weddings have taken up so much of my life lately, I figured maybe they should take up a lot of my blog as well. Here’s a special wedding season series – some questions I get asked (or ones I don’t), some things I survived, some truths I’ve been learning. And, an extra bonus: one very special wedding!
“Is it hard hanging out with so many couples??” This is the question I get asked, year round. But during wedding season, it morphs into something else:
“What’s it like being the token single friend among spouses?”
“How does it feel for all your friends to get married before you?”
“What’s it like to watch all your friends married??”
What is it like? How does it feel? Let me let you in on the biggest secret of Krysti’s Wedding Season 2016: normal. I don’t know how else to describe it, because it’s just my life. It’s all I know, really. It just happens to be where I’m at right now. I’m pretty sick of society telling me over and over again that I’m supposed to hate it, I’m getting pretty tired of having to explain to people I actually don’t detest my current reality.
At it’s very best: it’s incredibly wonderful. My friends have found the person that makes them come alive, makes them better, makes them brighter. My friends have navigated the hard conversations, put in the effort, and now have found someone to promise forever to. That’s exciting! That’s wonderful! I get to be a part of this treasured season, I get to celebrate with them on one of the most special days of their lives. That’s great. That’s an honor. That’s to be cherished – no matter my relationship status.
At it’s very worst: it’s incredibly unsettling. My friends have found their other half, and I’m not sure where I fit in the equation. Their lives are now characterized by compromise and communication and putting one other person before themselves – I’m in the season of life where I get to be selfish, focus on my needs, and do whatever I want. While they can be the most important people in my life, I know I’ll never be the most important one in theirs. They go home at the end of the night to a built-in best friend; I go home alone. They’ve found someone and I… haven’t.
Typically, its right in the middle: it’s incredibly confusing. Sometimes I see their relationship dynamics and I am so grateful I am single, sometimes I see their relationship dynamics and I really wish I wasn’t. At times I feel so loved and so secure in my friendships, other times I feel constantly put on the back burner, constantly forgotten about. I am loved in my singleness, and yet I am constantly set up, introduced, and nudged to be not single. I try so hard to care about marriage problems and empathize with things I know nothing about, but my single problems and issues can feel brushed aside and not as important. That boy texting me?? Psh, what about her husband.
I don’t feel less than, I don’t feel unloved, and I definitely don’t feel like something is wrong with me. But watching all your friends get married while single is like what I would assume watching all your friends graduate college is like, when you never had the chance to go. Are you any less intelligent? Are you automatically less than? NO. And yet… it can tend to feel like that at times. When you’re all the same age and yet in very different life stages, it’s easy to feel a bit behind.
I’m recovering from wedding season busy-ness; friends are recovering from their honeymoon. As I’m falling back in old routines and familiar patterns, friends are trying to create new rhythms and seeking new routines with their new spouse. Like getting rejected from your dream school and having to watch friends live the life you always imagined, I see my friends living out a life stage everyone assumed I would be in by now.
It’s like a lifelong conversation about a place everyone in the room has traveled to, except you. Everyone has had this experience, has seen these places, and you’ve only heard about them. Although you’ve traveled as well, although you know things about traveling, although you’ve had so many conversations about traveling to this place, you can’t speak into it. You can’t talk of your experiences there. You haven’t been given a visa yet. You can try all you want, with all your advice and stories and assumptions, but some people will never take your word because you haven’t seen it. You haven’t experienced it. You haven’t been there.
Yet at the same time, they still feel so entitled to speak into your travels. Ah, you haven’t been to Marriage Land, so clearly you don’t know what you’re talking about. But they traversed through Dating World, so they can speak with authority on the subject! They can tell you what to do. They escaped, so clearly you should follow their same exit route, right??
Sometimes, all you want is to talk about something other than traveling. Something you’re all on the same footing in. But it seems to affect everything – everything! The soil from Marriage Land seeps into their clothes, stains all their belongings. Where can you go that feels safe, neutral?
Sometimes, it seems, nowhere.
I know it’s not the same thing – but moving back from Malawi, I felt like no one understood, no one knew exactly what I was going through. All my friends were wonderful and well intentioned, but no one knew. And did I push them away and claim we couldn’t be friends because we had different life experiences? Did I shut them out and try to find new friends who might understand me better? Did I decide I could only be close to other ex-expats from here on out? Did I give up on our friendships because we were at different places in life? Of course not.
I try, over and over again, to emphasize that my friends are my friends – single, married, male, female, whatever. I’m beyond blessed that the majority of my friends have married wonderful, wonderful people that have since become my friends. I understand this isn’t always the case, and I get that it’s hard when someone you’re close to marries someone you aren’t – and probably will never be – close to.
I’m part of a group of five – my two best friends and their husbands – that I hang out in all the time. All the time. People always ask me, in hushed tones, about how hard that must be for me. How is it, really, constantly hanging with two couples??? It’s the best. Because they’re my people. It’s not my friend and her husband, its my two friends. It’s not Krysti the Single and Them the Couple, its spending time together. It’s not uncomfortable, awkward third wheeling, because it’s equal give and take. Why should my friends’ marital status – or mine – determine how much I love, care for, or invest in them??
Some days, I don’t even notice it. We sit on the couch and we all catch up and we all make fun of each other. We all love each other so much and we all know each other so well – it isn’t Krysti and two couples, it isn’t us and her, it’s a group of friends. It’s my team. We get up to say our goodbyes and its two by two by…. oh, just one. Just me. And it’s okay. I’m okay. I get in my car alone and I drive home alone and I go to bed alone and I’m fine. I’m really, truly fine. It’s my life.
And other days, it’s all I notice. I sit on the couch and talk about weddings and couples and grocery shopping together – things I don’t quite have a voice in. It’s hand holding and discussing communication patterns and laughing about fights we’ve had… uh, they’ve had, and it’s marriage talk. And I’m thankful to be a part of it. I’m glad I’m not shunned from this insight, I’m grateful my friends love me enough to give me the real life, front seat version of their happily ever after. But then we part ways and I get in my car alone and drive home alone and get in bed alone and I can’t help but think they aren’t doing any of these things alone…
I don’t know how long this will be my life. How many more weddings will I go to before it’s my wedding? How many more proposals will I help plan before a boy gets down on one knee in front of me? Will that ever happen? I don’t know.
But I do know there are far worse things than being the single friend among marrieds. There are worse things than feeling, at times, like the odd one out. Not having these people in my life. Losing these cherished relationships. Choosing to focus on our differences and therefore pushing away our similarities – that would be so much more painful, so much more disheartening, so much more unsettling than dancing solo at all these weddings. Even during the slow songs.