As a person who was born into two medium-sized families (although they sound like there are about 150 people more at each family gathering), I’ve been lucky. I always knew everyone in my family, but I always had someone to hang out with at lame family gatherings.
Family is a big part of my life and my mom always made it very clear that family came first—I wouldn’t have it any other way. But in recent years, my family life has been anything but ideal. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but basically, I’ve been estranged from a lot of one side of my family, and the other half lives around six hours away, so while I love them more than anything, it’s hard for us to keep in contact all of the time.
Because of this, I’ve become somewhat of a surrogate into people’s families, with my best friends in high school inviting me to family reunions and having many pseudo-moms, -aunts, -brothers and -sisters. And, since I’ve gone to college three hours away, that’s only become more frequent.
My friends at the paper I work at in college are much more than my friends; they’re my family. We go on weird stereotypical family trips to D.C. and to cabins. I have the men in my life to grill me when they know I can do better, but who are always there to support me, and I have some amazing pseudo-sisters who tell me when I’m making stupid boy choices.
This may sound a little weird to an outsider, but honestly, I feel strangely closer to my little pseudo-family (aptly named Froshfest… don’t ask) than I do to my family back home sometimes. I feel like we have built these amazing relationships on the basis of liking each other, not because of blood. And in some weird way, the habit of being close to them and having them share in some of the most important aspects of my life has just become second nature. I feel like because we picked each other we’re bound by something different than blood. We were friends by choice, but at the risk of sounding like the world’s worst Hallmark card, I think they are all my own group of soulmates.
In addition to feeling very lucky being a gypsy into other people’s families and seemingly being taken in by so many amazing people, it has taught me to be the type of person I am today. It’s taught me to be kind, to always give back what you get, to be loyal, to never be afraid to talk to anyone, and that family is about so much more than who you share a last name with.
Our society is very much based around the importance of family, and for good reason. But, for those of us who have seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle with their biological family, I’m very lucky and blessed to have been able to “pick my families” after all.
Photo by Jano Silva[divider] [/divider]
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