Ohana means family.

Family: One strong, powerful word

Family is not an important thing, it's everything.


I'm currently thinking back to kindergarten when my teacher asked the class to draw their family. I always drew dad the tallest, mom the second tallest, then me and lastly, my younger brother. I remember learning how to draw clothes so the members of my family were not stick figures anymore.

Well, those were the good old days.

I remember making my mom a craft for Mother's Day and my dad a craft for Father's Day. I remember my mom playing "American Idol" with me on my PlayStation and my dad solving every math problem in .5 seconds to assist me with my homework.

I am beyond fortunate.

At a young age, the importance of family is different depending on your specific family. Fortunately, my family always instilled the importance through our heads.

When high school came to an end and I spent my first night in my freshman year college dorm, I realized a lot. Family was something I should never take for granted. Many people told stories about their parents being drug addicts, abandoning them, abusing them, or even some were not alive.

Compared to these stories, my life was a blessing. My mom, dad, and brother had just dropped me off at college as they waved goodbye, smiling ear to ear. Not everyone in this world is as fortunate and lucky as I am.

However, this opened up my eyes. This world is a scary place to face alone. No matter the circumstances with your family, find at least one person (who may not be blood-related), that you can call FAMILY.

I believe that every single human being deserves the comforting feeling of family. Family isn't always blood. It is the people in your life who will accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.

The world today lacks the empathy for others who do not have a family. I hope that a majority of our population can do small, kind gestures in hope to attend to those who need a family.

The littlest gesture can go a long way.

Every winter holiday season, my family would "adopt a family." We would receive a list from a family for their wants and wishes for that holiday season. Giving back is one of the most important things as a living human being.

The gift giving was not the best part of it. The best thing about it was the smile on these children's faces when they barely had a functioning family and fresh underwear to wear the next day. I knew we had made a difference.

When I worked at a summer camp, I experienced something similar. My one camper told me she never had a best friend that felt like a sister. By the end of the summer, she turned to me and said, "You are my only best friend and sister." My heart felt warm inside. Even though she had a family and I was not blood-related, I influenced this young girl's life and made her feel like she had one person.

I know there are many, many different circumstances and situations, but you never know how YOU can make a difference.

Next time you face an opportunity to give back to someone in need, do not think twice about it.

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it


Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

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What Rescuing a Dog Taught Me About My Future

She was a real pain to begin with, but I wouldn't give her up for the world now.


My first dog came from a breeder to us when he was just a puppy. I was in third grade so we were both young together. I remember stepping off of the bus and seeing him curled up in my mom's arms. His breed, a Cavalier King Charles, is a highly sought after dog for their small size and beautiful markings. However, dog breeding can lead to medical complications down the line. Heart murmurs are very frequent as cavaliers get older. When he turned 9 years old, they were already detecting the beginning of a heart murmur in him. But my second dog didn't come to us in quite the same way.

Willow was about a year old. She was rescued from an abusive home where she had to fight for her food from many other dogs. This made her guard resources and distrustful of us. My mom and I begged the rest of our family for the ability to adopt her, and they finally agreed. Being not potty trained, we had to teach her with a lot of positive encouragement when she went pee in the right place (not our carpet). It took her a while to realize that we weren't going to take her food away and she gradually became less resource guarding. She started to trust my other dog more and play with him. A lot of the time, they even snuggle together now.

At the time, I was in my junior year of high school and still thinking about the idea of becoming a veterinarian. She helped me decide to go for it, and now I'm in college and getting ready to apply for veterinary school. Willow has become part of our family, and her funny and unique personality fit right in with us.

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