If the title hasn’t already given it away, I’ll get right to the point: I don’t have a squad. In a world seemingly inundated with the word “squad” and its corresponding image, I don’t think that my situation is as rare as it’s portrayed to be, so let me explain. I love my friends and I’m lucky to have deep, meaningful, and lasting connections with them. They’ve been there for me through good times and bad, made me laugh until I started to cry, and have loved me even at my most vulnerable moments. They are the most wonderful people in my life and yet, none of my close friends are close with each other. My amazing, hilarious, vibrant friends love me but belong to their own separate squads.
What even qualifies as a squad? Popular media is saturated with the idea of squads. Books, movies, television shows, everywhere you turn you’ll find the ideal squad image: a group of inseparably close friends who are always there for each other, go out together, are around each other all the time, and probably have a group message or two. Maybe it’s the group of friends in the show you’re watching on Netflix or the characters in your favorite novel. Even celebrity news loves the idea of having a squad, just take a look at Taylor Swift circa 2015 and the media frenzy that continually declared her Bad Blood video #squadgoals after it showcased a huge cast of well-known celebs. So why are we seemingly SO obsessed with being a part of a squad?
Because the “squad” is the ideal form of human connection and the biggest safety net for our self-esteem. What could honestly be better than being a part of group of people who have a great time together and love each other? You’ll always some someone to listen to you when you’ve had a bad day. You’ll never feel left out because it’s a given that you’ll all be together on the weekend, no invitation needed. You won’t have to pine away about an ex because your friends will take you out and tell you how much better off you are without them. You’ll never be lonely because everyone is just a group message away.
I’ve felt the security that being a part of a squad gives you because from past experience, which is why I’ve learned so much from my present situation.The first thing I learned about being squad-less is that It can make you feel overwhelmingly lonely sometimes. You can’t but question if you’re the problem or if there’s something wrong with you, because why else wouldn’t you have a squad when it seems like everyone else is a part of one? These involuntary emotions are incredibly isolating and are, for me, the hardest part of not having a squad. But these experiences have pushed me to a place, while not the most comfortable, have allowed me to grow and learn more about myself in a way that I’m truly not sure I would have been able to otherwise. What opportunity to grow is ever comfortable anyway? I started to explore, pursue, and embrace the things that really made me happy. I’ve had plenty of one on one time with myself so I’ve become much more comfortable and confident with my own personality. I’ve stopped caring so much about what strangers think of me. I focused on my own personal success. I let go of the idea that everyone has to like me in order to feel worthy. I appreciated the time I spent with my friends more. And I stopped selling myself short by associating with people who were a constant source of negativity because I’ve learned that sometimes people in your squad don’t actually care about your personal growth no matter how many times they invite you out.
Contrary to what this article might make it seem, I don’t hate squads. I loved being a part of them in the past and I will again in the future, but I’ve embraced where I’m at in the present moment and have grown exponentially because of it. I wouldn’t trade the independence, confidence, and self-love I’ve gained for anything in the world.