Friends Are The Family You Get To Choose For Yourself

Friends Are The Family You Get To Choose For Yourself

We're not related, but we're family.
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Now, I'm sure everyone has those friends in their life who are like family. Some added brothers, sisters, even chosen parents. But have you ever had a friend become like a cousin? No?

Well, let me explain it to you.

First off, I am the type of person who is extremely close with my cousins. Growing up without siblings, they were the closest thing I had to that.

Family, overall, is very important to me, but there is just some special bond with my cousins that is different from every other friendship I've ever made.

So, when my best friend told me that our mutual friend and I acted like cousins, I had to ponder it for a bit.

My cousins mean the world to me, and I would take a bullet for them. They're my built-in best friends. This friend of mine had such a familiar feeling about him — like he was a cousin.

And I didn't notice until someone pointed it out to me.

And since I've come to notice that, I'm thankful. It hasn't made our friendship weird or pushed apart. If anything, it's drawn us closer together.

And not only have we grown closer, gaining a better friend in one another, I've gained another cousin! And I think we already covered how important cousins are to me.

This friend is truly my newfound cousin.

I would take a bullet for him or defend him to a crowd just like I would for my own blood cousins. I have no shame sending him ugly Ssnapchats or rambling about a stupid story just like I would to my own family. There's a familiarity, a comfortable feeling, in this chosen cousinship.

We might not be related by blood, but he's definitely my family.

Every time I think about the fact that we're like "cousins," I laugh. I had never heard of such a thing until I experienced it.

It's funny to think how he's like a cousin to me rather than a brother or even just my best friend.

But no word describes his role in my life better than "cousin." I have a hard time letting people in and believing they'll stay in my life. And the thing about cousins is that most of the time they're kind of forced to deal with you.

The complicated thing about this cousinship is that he doesn't have that "force." His parents aren't related to mine, we don't have similar family members.

He owes me absolutely nothing, even when I'm a complete jerk (because trust me, I know I can be a jerk to my cousins sometimes).

But for some weird reason, I trust him and I've let him into my "family." And I hope and pray that he stays my cousin for a long while, no matter how intolerable I become.

Friends are family that you choose. I am thankful to have chosen him as my cousin.

Cover Image Credit: Abigail Stout

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4 Reasons Why Dads Threatening Their Daughters' Boyfriends Aren't Funny

No guns, threats, or creepy infringement on their privacy necessary.
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This week, former NFL player Jay Feely caught Twitter's attention by posting a picture with his daughter and her prom date and a handgun.

While the comedic undertones of the photo are obvious, Twitter had a lot to say about the picture and most people weren't happy.

He has since issued a statement of clarification after the tweet went viral, acknowledging that gun safety is an important issue and clarifying that he was in fact joking. Unfortunately, though, the damage had already been done.

Feely is far from the only dad who's ever made this joke. It's a largely prevalent theme specifically among gun owners and in country music. Check out the song "Cleaning This Gun" for another example. It's catchy, I have to admit, I just listened to it again voluntarily the other day even though I don't agree with the central message.

But what's really the matter with this picture? After all, it's just dads being dads, right? Wrong. The political, historical, and gender-specific rhetoric behind the idea of dads protecting their daughters by threatening their boyfriends have all combined to create a lot of things wrong with this picture. Here are 4 of them.

1. Gun violence is no laughing matter

This theme has come up over and over and over again this year but it's one that continues to be relevant and timely. Gun violence is a very real issue, with thousands of deaths, dozens of mass shootings, and deep political biases, making it far from a joke. While there is a major difference between the handgun in Feely's picture and the assault weapons that have been at the center of recent mass shootings, threatening to shoot someone, particularly an unarmed teenager, is just poor humor.

2. Parents do not get a say in their daughters' sexual choices

From chastity rallies at churches to purity balls entrusting their sexual purity to their dads to presenting "virginity certificates" to dads at weddings (hint, you can't medically prove someone's a virgin), parents' obsession with their daughters' sexual behaviors, not their sons', mind you, just their daughters, is creepy, intrusive, and disgusting.

Decisions about whether or not to engage in sexual activity, at any point from high school to marriage and on to the rest of their lives, is up to the two people involved, not the parents, the church, the government, or any outside parties. By reinforcing the idea that the parent is in control of these decisions that their kids are supposed to make for themselves, parents like these are perpetuating archaic ideals, destroying the trust their children have in them, and setting them up for destructive sexual behavior down the line.

3. There is an extremely obvious (and dangerous) sexual double standard between boys and girls

While young women are told to guard their purity and that engaging in sexual activity makes them less worthwhile people, boys are encouraged to use sexual conquests to assert their dominance and their behaviors are not focused on nearly as much by parents, religious organizations, or sexual education programs.

If women are taught to remain virginal until marriage and homosexuality is frowned down upon, who exactly are these boys supposed to be having sexual conquests with? Beats me.

4. Sexual repression and rape culture go hand-in-hand

These parents criticize their daughters for participating in safe, monogamous sexual relationships but do not give the same attention and threats to people that threaten their wellbeing. By teaching your daughter that she can't trust you, you're setting her up for trouble down the line.

While this entire situation could be passed off as a harmless joke that got a little out of hand, it's obvious that the problems run deep and can have a lasting effect, especially on the girl at the center of the "joke." Bottom line, trust your kids. Believe that they have the self-respect and the critical thinking skills to make healthy relationship decisions and support them in making them. No guns, threats, or creepy infringement on their privacy necessary.

Cover Image Credit: Jay Feely: Twitter

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To My Boys From Back Home

Thank you, for not only holding my hand, but holding my heart as well and showing me that not all boys are the same.
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This past year, being in a new environment, I have been guilty of rolling the “all boys are the same” phrase off of my tongue. It seems as though the more boys that I meet, the more often I use this phrase. But there’s one thing I always seem to forget to take into consideration; my boys from back home.

With every bad relationship, comes a lot of bad aftermath. The ruins of these relationships are not always pretty, but when you have people around you whose souls are, the outcome is more beautiful than before the aftermath.

Time is something very fragile. With only 24 hours in each day, our attention given to others is very limited, or so each toxic relationship I have ever encountered has shown me. Thankfully, my boys back home have shown me otherwise. No matter what the miles are, and no matter what time of day it is, my boys are always there, whether that means a drive down to university or a FaceTime call. If you are important to someone, they will make the time to be a part of your life. If you find yourself having to fight for someone’s time and attention, they are not worth yours. So, thank you to my boys from back home for telling me that you miss me and meaning it.

Your mind and soul can be a beautiful thing if you share it with the right person or people. This can be a terrifying concept, but if you are truly comfortable with someone, you will find yourself sharing pieces of yourself with them that have never been shared out loud before. Never allow yourself to share your energy with someone who does not value what you truly have to offer within who you are. So, thank you to my boys from back home for knowing me better than I know myself and still making it a point to love me despite my quirks.

Success, a seven-letter word that holds no weight unless you have people there to share it with. Do not be the girl who allows herself to live in someone else’s shadow by giving all she has to give and receiving nothing from the other end. Instead, be the girl that radiates because she allows others to shine with her. No flower can blossom without the help of a little water and sun. If you find yourself receiving no water, and no sun, leave. Nothing beautiful comes from a withered soul. So, thank you to my boys from back home for not tearing me down, but instead building me up into a girl who now knows what she wants and what she deserves.

So, this one is for my boys from back home. I call them “my boys” not to place ownership on them, but because they are my best friends as I am theirs and together, they are men, real men. They have shown me that yes, boys and girls can be just friends but also that the label of a relationship does not have to be the defining factor of how a woman should be treated by a man. It is because of them that I know not to settle for any less than what I bargain for. So, thank you, for not only holding my hand, but holding my heart as well and showing me that not all boys are the same.

Cover Image Credit: Brittany Clark

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