Jessica Brown

The upsides to being a bit of a loner

It’s taken a while, but now I know there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with me that makes me incapable of friendship

Share

A new survey has found that we have the most friends – an average of 80 – when we’re 29 years old. I'm sure I'm not the only one surprised by this figure. The only way it can make sense is if you have a very loose definition of ‘friend’. I think of a friend as someone you can completely trust, someone who knows you really well, can share silence with you and hated all your ex-boyfriends long before you did. Do most people really have such a high number of people in their lives who answer this definition?

The survey got me thinking about my own friends. Although I'd never admit it to you in person, over recent years I haven’t had many. It’s not much fun having to go through difficult times without someone to listen to your complaining, answering your call in the middle of the night or turning up at your door unannounced with your favourite chocolate. After a while you crave the closeness only a best friend can offer, and you start vetting everyone you meet as a potential friend to begin filling the void Friends help us figure out who we are and give us the confidence to be that person. They make us feel important just by giving us their time.

There’s no doubt we put pressure on ourselves to have a giant friendship group, but the pressure isn't just internal. I was recently working with a colleague on a project that targeted people my age.

For a painfully long couple of weeks, she’d ask: “What would your friends say about this? If you were on a night out with your friends, what would they think?” If my imagination were a muscle, I would have strained it. But she can be forgiven, because loneliness is not the kind of thing you’re aware of unless it’s affecting you.

Not having many close friendships can eat away at your self-esteem: it’s difficult not to take it personally when everyone else around you seems to have loads of friends.

But as important as they are, having 80 friends really doesn’t sound very appealing, quite aside from the fact that you’d be at a birthday party every five days. It’s taken a while, but now I know there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with me that makes me incapable of friendship. And if you ever find yourself in a similar friend drought, it’s very likely there’s nothing wrong with you, either.

In fact, there are some upsides to being a bit of a loner. You can be selfish: think of how many times you'd have to do something you didn’t want to if you had 80 people to placate. You don't have to compromise, or pretend to be interested in three-hour conversations about interview outfits. You don’t have to go out when you feel like staying in, or settle for your second-favourite restaurant.

The survey found that adults make most of their friends at work due to longer working hours. But despite our busy lives, we mustn’t forget the importance of alone time – which is something you won’t be surprised to learn I have in abundance.

Getting on with life without the incomparable support of friends makes you resilient, self-sufficient, self-aware and brimming with stories from when you were looking at the world around you rather than texting. In other words, it makes you the perfect friend.

So I will embrace ageing and look forward to reaching the age of 29, just in case the survey is right. But despite verging on buying a fish just so I have someone to talk to, I hope I never have 80 friends. A friend is way too special to have in such vast quantities.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Representative

£15500 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This international company deve...

Recruitment Genius: Field Service Engineer - Basingstoke / Reading Area

£16000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established name in IT Ser...

Day In a Page

Read Next
People relax near Regent's Canal in King's Cross, London  

Nature Studies: Global warming – both the phenomenon and the phrase – is back

Michael McCarthy
 

Daily catch-up: the Greeks can stay in the euro or end ‘austerity’, but not both

John Rentoul
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue