Here is some advice you never hear: It is OK to put your family second!

Yes, you heard that right. Our whole lives we are told family always comes first. At the end of the day, these are the people that are here for us and love and support us unconditionally. Right? Maybe not so much.

First of all, let’s break it down. My family is not the same as your family, his family or her family. Every single person has a different type of relationship with their family, so we cannot place the “family first” advice into a pretty little box and give it to the world in the same way.

Maybe you are the person with the super loving supportive family. They attended as many of your games and competitions as humanly possible, they made sure to be there on senior night, award banquets, college orientation, etc.

They do little things for you to make sure you feel special and loved, and remind you how intelligent, beautiful, and hardworking you are. They uplift you and encourage you. They never leave your side when you are struggling and need someone to talk to.

Maybe you are the person with a not-so-supportive family.

They made zero effort to support you when it came to school, sports, and extracurricular activities. They prioritized staying home over attending any of your games because they did not care enough to show their support even one time.

They put their needs before yours on several occasions. They spend 98% of their time focusing on making the rest of the family happy before giving you a single second of their time or attention. They make zero effort to show you how special and important you are to them. They make you feel neglected and unloved.

I am a firm believer in putting yourself first and prioritizing your happiness before tending to anyone else’s.

Do not get this confused with being selfish or uncaring because you absolutely can be selfless and loving while putting your happiness first at the same time.

At the end of the day, the only person you can guarantee will be there for you, is you.

Do not let anyone walk all over you, use you, or hurt your feelings for any reason. Even your family. You have to be strong and know your worth.

If you would not let a friend treat you a certain way, do not allow your parents to treat you in the same way simply because you know they are your parents and they are authoritative figures.

You have authority over your own life. You are also an authoritative figure, not just your mom and dad.

This is something I am incredibly passionate about. You dictate your own life. People do what they can to sway you, persuade you, and pressure you… at the end of the day, every choice we make in essence is our own.

Sometimes things happen to us that are completely out of our control, which is something completely different, but for the things you actually do have control over — take these opportunities to drive your life in the direction you want.

Not what your older brother wants. Not what your mom wants. Not what your dad wants. It is all about what you want.

Know that it is okay to put your family second. Disregard anyone who tries to make you feel guilty for wanting to put other people that matter more first-- whether it be friends, your boyfriend or girlfriend, or even yourself.

Just because the society we live in tells us putting family first is crucial does not mean you must follow suit. Do not be afraid to take a different direction and never feel guilty for doing what makes you happy!