A conversation between the founders of The Single Diaries
Welcome to Single Girl Brunches With the Best—a series of conversations with friends and leading ladies who are fierce, fearless and inspirational. Some months we will talk over mimosas, others hot chocolate. This month, Jen and I sat down over pizza and vino at Sonoma Wine Garden so you can get to know us, and hopefully we will get to know you soon.
Why did you decide to start The Single Diaires?
J: It was an idea I started bouncing around a year ago after one particularly bad string of break-ups. As I was sharing these horrible dating experiences, I was getting one-upped. “You think you had it bad, well, wait… listen to what happened to me.” Dating’s hard. I initially wanted to start a blog to share our stories with each other, the red flags we failed to ignore and the lessons we ultimately learned. I wanted to start a community of young women who could learn from each other so we aren’t making the same mistakes. But as you and I talked about what it COULD be, we found that dating is just one piece of the puzzle. If we’re having the same problems in dating, we’re probably facing the same ones in other relationships—with friends, with our careers—all of the things we face when we graduate from college or move out on our own. I thought, “Let’s engage other young women like us.” You’ve been a big part of getting it to where it is from being a dating forum to The Single Diaries. Why did you want to get on board?
C: I realized right after college that there is such a thing as a “quarter-life crisis.” Your life is set up until graduation, then what? The New York Times printed an article about it… the new experiences and issues that millennials face in their personal lives and careers. I agreed with you that all of it stems from relationships. It’s not just dating, it’s your girlfriends, your parents. That idea of the “crisis” was in the back of my mind when I first watched Amanda de Cadenet’s The Conversation. She interviews her friends (who happen to be celebrities and powerhouse women) and talks about real issues that women face—not who they are but what they bring to the table because of their past or what they’re going through now as women. I wanted to do that with my friends. Once you share our evolved mission, people dig a little deeper and realize, “Yes. I want to talk about that.”
What have you learned from this experience so far?
J: A real lesson for me is that if you are passionate about something, let your guard down and really go after it; there’s nothing to be afraid of. If you really believe in it and are genuine about it, the people in your life are there to support you and push you further. Actually having people proactively reaching out is the best part about it so far.
C: Putting yourself out there is a huge fear. I always had a passion for writing, so I’ve been scared to put my work out there after college. It’s not just for a grade anymore; it’s out there for anybody to judge. I feel that my writing is so personal to me that it’s one and the same. The last time I published anything with my name on it was in my university poetry magazine. But we have to let go of the fear of judgment. That’s what holds a lot of people back.
Who do you look up to?
J: Anyone who knows me well knows that Oprah is my guiding light. She holds nothing back. You know everything she’s ever done, and I think that’s what’s made her successful in connecting with people on so many levels. You can’t pull anything on her, because she’s completely honest. I’d love to overcome my fear of how much I want to share and be open and honest and let people do the same with us. It’ll be a learning process. I know that opening up will help us connect with our readers… the more they will want to share with us. Who inspires you?
C: This is going to be really corny.
J: Cornier than Oprah?
C: Well, I’ll let you decide, but my sisters. I’m the youngest of three sisters, and they paved the road for me. I remember specifically when my middle sister decided on a different college than my eldest sister… I had an identity crisis. Up until that point, the three of us had done the exact same things: we all went to the same elementary school—where each of us was student body President—and the same high school; we all danced; we joined the same school activities. All of their teachers knew who I was and assumed I was like my sisters, and I loved that. I always wanted to be associated with them. I admire everything they do. Every choice I make, I look to them for affirmation, so this was no different. My eldest sister just started her own company, Avant-Barre, and I felt that if she can start something then I can too.
Let’s talk about “inner circles.”
C: The reason I moved to L.A. is because my middle sister was living here when I moved down for college… goes back to me wanting to do anything they did. My sisters and my cousin who’s my pretty much my third sister are a part of my closest inner circle. Because I love their company so much, I tend to put myself out there to make close girlfriends and close friends in general. I’m not sure if it’s being a youngest child, but I like to be around people most of the time.
J: I always wanted sisters. I’m an only child, so I had to go the extra step to have a close-knit group of girls. In high school, I had amazing girlfriends. In college, it was about evolving into the next chapter, not severing ties… keeping those strong relationships but continuing to build my circle. I opened myself up to meeting new girls and made another amazing group of friends.
C: Did it change your relationships with your high school friends?
J: Yes, it does, right? You’re never going to be best friends with every single person that you know.
C: Yeah, I’ve tried that. I like to think that most of my friends are my “best friend,” and I want to be theirs.
J: It’s hard. You can’t give enough of yourself fairly to everyone at every single moment in time, but I think that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you care less about people. The right people in your life realize that, and it’s the same with them. Most of my friends moved to the opposite coast. Being here in L.A. was about being in the next chapter of my life and making that next circle of girlfriends. I have met more remarkable women that I call really close friends. I still have my high school and college girlfriends, but it hasn’t stopped me from continuing to build new friendships. It’s important in your life to have people around who are going through what you’re going through. Now I have all these layers of close friends who know me in different ways that I can relate to on different things. I would like to keep growing that and hope that’s what we can do with this site… to bring more people together and find another layer of those connections.
C: I like the idea of layering your friendships. Another important thing we’ve both realized in moving or in losing a network already in place is that even if technology can tie us, it’s important to have people in your area that you connect with. Some of the close friends I made post-college have already started to move out of L.A. Although, I do feel like I’ve fostered relationships with friends who left. I have ones who moved to Hawaii and Thailand. We haven’t lived in the same city in three years, but they’re still two of the friends I turn to first.
J: Sometimes friendships fade away because of distance. You don’t always have time for the hour-long conversations, but staying in touch with people and connecting over something can make the bond stronger. Hopefully that’s what The Single Diaries can facilitate… having shared conversations with friends chiming in at different times, giving each other advice and offering support through rough times.
C: Another thing with girls is that we all like to gossip. Sure, we talk about the growing pains in what we’re going through, but we also like to talk about nothing. It’s important to have girls around to talk about nonsense.
What does “being single” mean to you?
Now we want to hear from you:
What does “being single” mean to you?
Catherine Abalos is a youngest child and self-proclaimed “best friend to all.”