I’ve been thinking a lot about family lately.
Growing up, family was the only thing that remained consistent for me. Moving from Minnesota to India, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and Canada meant that the one thing that never really changed was my family. My brothers were basically the friends I had whenever I didn’t have any other friends, and the rest of my family grew a lot closer because of this.
Up until recently, I’ve always felt a very gnawing feeling of wanting to distance myself from my family. Back in high school, I felt too attached to my family, and did my best to make my friends my family, wanting to be less close to the real family I had. And although this hasn’t always been the case since then, it’s definitely been a factor through most of my life. My senior year of high school I moved out to California, and stayed there straight up until a few weeks before I left for College.
Last Fall was when it started to hit me that I was neglecting my family. Mainly because I was working something like 40 hours a week (between two part time jobs) and going to school full-time, plus whatever activities I was a part of. When Thanksgiving came around, I realized that unless I spent the entire break doing work, I wasn’t going to stay afloat in most of my classes. My mother was very upset about this, particularly since I had spent the previous Thanksgiving doing the exact same thing. I started to realize that in the pursuit of academics and my own ambition, my family had become collateral damage.
A few weeks ago, I took a road trip out to Redwood Falls, Minnesota for a family reunion. While I didn’t find myself too excited around distant family, I did get to spend a lot of quality time with my brother in the car, and it made me think a lot about what exactly a ‘family’ is.
From what I can tell, who your family is really boils down to one thing: the people who will never abandon you whether they want to or not.
Friends may get into disagreements, couples may yell at eachother, siblings may throw punches or pull hair, but in the end the people that are worth keeping around end up becoming your family. These are the people who will always be what they are to you, whether the going is rough or times are good. Recently I’ve seen more and more that some of my closest friends indeed feel like family.
Family seems to come in all forms. Whether it’s my roomates who don’t mind when I get whiny and sensitive, my brother who asks my advice about girls, my mother who at times feels more like one of my goofy friends, or my dad who seems to wonder how he ever managed to have a child like me whenever I break out in dance. In the end, family is the people worth keeping around at the end of the day, whether you want them around or not.
This semester I’ll be volunteering at hospice. During the online training session, I came across a lesson that recommended taking the time to say the following phrases to loved ones.
Please forgive me.
I forgive you.
I love you.
The last one is probably more pertinent to something like hospice, but the rest I think are very valid to most other situations. In the course of daily life, I’ve found it easy to take my loved ones for granted at times. I think it’s important to take the time to say these kinds of things to your family, your friends, your dog, anyone you would consider a loved one.