Times are tough for everyone. But for people whose friends earn more or have a higher purchasing power, social anxiety is always a thing. This is definitely not fun. In this article, 5 Nigerians talk about what it means to be the ‘broke friend’ and everything that comes with it.

Dayo, 26

My friend buys me expensive gifts all the time. When it’s my turn, I can’t match his gifts. He swears it’s the thought that counts, but that hardly makes me feel better about myself.

Not being able to afford the spontaneity that comes with having money sucks. Recently, a friend hit me up to ask why I haven’t bought the bone straight wig, and I was like “Sis, I’m broke.” Later, she asked me to buy her a pair of shoes for Christmas, and I was lost again.

My friends are probably tired of my “I’m broke” song. We have conversations about it sometimes, but those things make me sad, and I hate that they have to happen in the first place. I’m currently trying to skill and level up. Hopefully, it happens soon. 

XI, 27

After graduating from university, I was the first person in my friend group to get a job, although it was a dead job. Some months later, others got better jobs that paid twice or thrice of what I earned. Not long after, I quit my job and went for my masters. When I was done, I got another dead job. That was when I first noticed that there’s been a shift in our friendship. It was the subtle things at first — I was the one making an effort to catch up. After that, I found out that my friends had started leaving me out of stuff.

One night, I went to a joint close to where I lived and met my friends hanging out without me. The spot was only 5 minutes away from my house. Also, none of them attended my wedding — they all had convenient excuses. I knew we were over when someone in the group unwittingly told me that they had been talking about me when I wasn’t there.

Sylvia, 23

I started a business 5 months ago, and I’m still trying to find my feet. My friends, on the other hand, have good jobs or nice businesses. Of course, there’s a disparity between our incomes. What this means for me is that I have to think like a million times before I do anything with them.

We haven’t seen each other in a while, even though we live in the same town. There was a time we were trying to catch up and planning a staycation at a fancy place. We didn’t conclude on the details, so I figured that we’d suspended our plans. Then I saw pictures of them online at the location. I was very hurt because I didn’t tell them I couldn’t afford it. At the same time, I can’t blame them. Nobody wants a party pooper. 

Leila, 22

 I have a lot of rich friends because of the school I attended. But I’m not rich. It’s a struggle hanging out with them because I can’t do the things they do. Or even bring my phone out to take pictures. The one that bothers me the most is that I can’t invite them over to my house. I sleep in the same room as my mum with pots and pans and everything we own in one corner of the room. They’ve asked to visit me many times, but I always find a way to get myself out of the situation. I live in perpetual fear that one of them will show up one day.

I love them, but they can be mean sometimes. During the peak of the “Don’t rush” challenge, they passed videos of people around, mocking their houses and everything. And these locations are much glamorous than mine. It was an eye-opening experience for me. Moving out of the house and getting my own place will help my anxiety. And I hope it happens soon.

SG, 25

I work at a low-paying job, and it seems my friends are doing better than me. I still remember the day my best friend told me about her salary and how it made me feel. She was in the middle of negotiating for a raise, and it was about 5x what I was earning. Being the broke friend means that I have to be flaky and not show up for stuff my friends invite to. I’m the queen of excuses, but I don’t think the bulk of them understand why. Only one of them knows the full gist. I don’t talk about my finances with the others because I struggle with sharing my problems with people. I prefer not to be anyone’s charity case.



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