As a young girl, I couldn't understand why people referred to their friends as brother or sister. To make things more confusing, I realized that the person I referred to as my aunt was of no relation at all. When I would ask why we were purposely calling people by the wrong titles I got the response "they are like family." I couldn't understand how you could have such a bond with someone that was of no blood relation to you and truly look at them as a family member because I was taught that blood loyalty was everything. As I got older the reasoning became clear.
We get so wrapped up into the mentality that family sticks together no matter what that allow the people closest to us to give us the most grief and pain because, well, family is forever. We go to functions to support people that will only speak ill of us when we leave and still help them because at the end of the day we love them. We do it all in the name of family.
As much as I love all of my family members and wish the best for all of them, when I finally took a step back, I realized that some of the people I try to bolster and save are the same ones that would happily find my shortcomings and laugh at my misery. Not all family members want to see you succeed and not all family members will give you loyalty.
To me, family isn't just a bloodline or last name. Family is loyalty. Rather than me considering only the people who would show up to a family reunion as my "family", I choose to also acknowledge those that bring love, support, and positivity to my life as my true family members and I provide them with unwavering loyalty and love. I define family differently.
Family does not compete
Family inspires you. To them, your success is their joy and they will motivate you to succeed and pray that everything not only goes to your plan, but also to God's plan. They don't see your happiness or prosperity as a threat. Instead they see you as the successful person they always wanted and knew you could become. They understand that everyone's life has a different course and choose to compliment rather than compete.
Family is honest
Family doesn't always tell you what you want to hear. Instead they tell you what you need to hear. No, not in the sense of unasked for opinions but in a way to get you on the right track. They want what's best for you, always. Whether it's a simple conversation or addressing you in a tough love fashion, they know that their intentions are pure and necessary for you to be the best person you can be.
Family is loyal
Family has your back at all times. It can come in a variety of forms: having open ear for venting, being the ultimate secret keeper, or supporting your every endeavor, your family is there for you in good times and bad. Together you make up a package deal. A win for you is a win for them and an offense against you is an offense against them. No matter what, they are your calm in the storm through thick and thin and there for you every step of the way.
Family is love
Their love is pure and selfless. The ability to love and be loved is not dependent on genetics. It's natural and easy. Even when expressed without words, you show each other love through gestures, inside jokes, and good times. Love, laughter, and attachment fall into place and you find joy in their happiness. Through the process you not only develop a love for that other person but they also show you to love yourself in return.
The beauty of the bond
Throughout the years, my family has grown not only biologically but also through friendships. I've made relationships and bonds that will last a lifetime and shared memories that I will cherish forever. These people have been there for me through the highs and lows and I am always there for them in their times of joy and need. It's said that everyone comes into for a reason. Though some people are in your life by chance, it's great to look around and feel the warmth of the people you've allowed into your life by choice. You can't change your family but you can certainly add to it.