Your mid-20s are a time of growth and self-discovery, but they can also be full of uncertainty and loneliness for a lot of people. Especially when you’re
single in your mid-20s — a time when many of your friends might be coupling up and settling down — it’s easy to feel left out and alone. But being single comes with its own amazing advantages and lessons, and even when it’s hard, it’s important to remember how much joy it can bring.
I know well the feeling of being surrounded by friends in relationships when I’m struggling in my own dating life. It can be demoralizing, and there are times when you’re so tired of seeing social media posts tagged #couplegoals that you could throw your phone into a gutter. But being single in your mid-20s also allows you to
pursue your dreams with freedom and intention, and to invest in friendships that will teach you more about yourself. I asked single women in their mid-20s to share their best advice for loving yourself and living your best life — and let me tell you, their answers left me feeling inspired, valuable, and seen. Read on to learn how to make the most of your 20s as a single lady, and how to appreciate every moment of this season. After my last relationship ended, I decided to take some intentional time out of the dating game, both to give myself the space to heal, and to take my dreams more seriously … Even when singleness gets hard, and I feel lonely, I remember that this time that I’m spending single now is allowing me to become more and more of who I am. I can unreservedly pursue my dreams. I can focus on my friendships with the badass women who have seen me through my darkest times. I can concentrate on my own inner healing to become the strongest, healthiest version of myself, without any distraction. And eventually, when I’m ready to date again, I will be a much better partner because of the hard self-care I’m doing now.
— Lauren, 25
I’m from the South, so most of my friends are married with kids or in serious relationships. It’s so easy to compare and feel like you’re missing out, but I’m using this time to do all the things I’ve always dreamed of — dive into my career and not feel guilty for working too much, have impromptu brunches, drinks, or hangouts with friends, and travel as much as I can. Even my friends in relationships feel lonely sometimes, so I think it’s important to remember that another person won’t ‘fix’ that feeling … As clichéd as it sounds, you have to use this time to find yourself, figure out what really makes you happy, and create your life.
— Kaitlyn, 25
I have actually learned so much about relationships and love by not being in them. I've learned about the things that I do in relationships that aren't great and what they stem from in terms of insecurities. I think the things that have helped me feel really solid in my single life are friends, employment, hobbies, creativity projects, and pursuing my dreams. Sometimes I generally feel like (even though I want it) I wouldn't have time to be in love at this point in my life. Oh, a good vibrator is also helpful.
— Hannah, 24
I get caught up in the Instagram trap of comparing my life with others, but you can’t see what’s behind the photo, and I try to remind myself of that, and also that life is all about the highs and lows … If you take time to be alone and find who you are without a partner and invest in self-love, I think it makes the journey to finding love a little easier.
— Gabriella, 24
I have found doing service has really helped. I foster cats, and it keeps me busy, and I love doing it, and it’s something that serves my community. As a single person without kids, I have the unique skills to take care of bottle-feeding kittens because my schedule is so flexible. My time and singleness is a needed tool, and I can use it to help others, even if those are tiny kittens.
— Zoe, 25
Being single in my mid-20s is something that I think about every single day (fortunately or unfortunately, I guess) ... I try to take it one day at a time, work on myself, enjoy my friends and my job, and realize that not being in a relationship doesn’t mean I am undesirable. One day I’ll meet someone who wants to talk about both sports and theater with me, can quote The Sandlot and Mean Girls, and understands my crazy work schedule.
— Sammy, 26
The most beautiful part of being single in my mid-20s has been the intense sense of community I have formed with other single ladies. Had I been dating someone during this stage of my life, I wouldn’t have gotten to travel with, live with, laugh with, and learn from my gal pals. It has been simply the coolest to do life so intimately with these ladies.
— Dawson, 25
It is easy to feel the ache of loneliness. It happens to me often. Most of the time, I find friends to spend time with and open up about what I am feeling. I seek out reassurance from people I love the most and know me the best. Sometimes, I want to be alone when I feel that way. Sometimes, I think it is good to embrace that feeling and sit with it a while. I try to channel some of that by painting — I have a studio in my home that is really just a free space for me. I can go into that room, close the door and just be with myself. It is cathartic.
— Sarah, 24
I try to keep myself as busy as possible to distract myself from the cons of being single. I'm very involved with my career and extracurricular activities around my city (volunteering, sports, mentoring, networking, etc.). I have to remind myself every day that even though I am single, there are certainly a lot of pros in this stage of life, and that my time will come when it is right.
— Catherine, 23
It took me a long time to stop comparing myself and where I am versus where some of my friends are, but then I just take stock of where the rest of my life is, and I realize advancing my education and career is so much more important to me than being ‘settled down.’ I love the feeling of not having to answer to anyone, and I can pick up and go whenever I want. I don’t really get lonely, but of course, I do long for a partner. I just know that right now isn’t the time for that… maybe it’ll be soon, or maybe it won’t be. Bottom line, I just love getting to own all parts of my life.
— Alyssa, 26
Invest in yourself. Put time, energy, and money into strengthening the relationship you have with yourself. And invest in other interpersonal relationships: friends, mentors, family, etc. Once you start doing that, it will become clearer than ever what you want you want and need in a romantic partner. And you could very well meet someone while on your journey.
— Jenn, 27
Take it from these ladies — your single years can be beautiful and life-giving in their own way, even when you feel like you want nothing more than to find a relationship. Having the time and space to build a life for yourself is something worth embracing, and it's likely you won't always have the freedom to do things 100% on your terms. Take time to invest in the things that really matter to you, and trust that with time, your romantic life with flourish, too.