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.

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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An Open Letter to the Best Friend I Didn't See Coming

Some people come into your life and change you forever—thanks, bestie.

Dear best friend,

I wasn't expecting you when God placed you in my life. I had my friends. I had my people. I wasn't exactly open to the idea of new meaningful friendships because I had the ones I needed, and it didn't seem like I really needed anybody new.

Thank God that was false. Sometimes you meet people and you just know that you're going to be good friends with. Sometimes you meet people and you realize that there is no such thing as chance. I think God has a funny way of making it seem as if the things that happen to us are by chance, but honestly, that’s a load of crap. If the biggest moments of our lives were left up to chance, then I believe that would make God out to seem as if he didn’t care. It would make it seem as if He was truly abandoning me and making me face some of my most important seasons fully isolated. But you, best friend, are a true testament to the fact that God doesn’t just leave such important aspects up to chance. Thank you for taking a chance on our friendship, and thank you for allowing me to take a chance on what I didn’t realize would be the most impactful friendship in my entire life.

Thank you for being real with me. Thank you for not sugar coating things. Thank you for telling me when I have a bad attitude. Thank you for loving me through my mistakes. Thank you for supporting me in my decisions, even if it isn’t always the decision you would make. Thank you for wanting the best for me, and for making that your true intent behind the words that you say to me, whether they be constructive criticism or encouragement.

Thank you for being a goof with me. Thank you for putting me first. Thank you for seeing the importance of our friendship. Thank you for making time in your schedule for us to just sit and do homework, eat Mexican food, or sit on the porch and listen to music that emotionally wrecks you.

You’re one of a kind. You’re a shoulder to lean on. You’re a safe place. You’re a free spirit. You’re rough and tough, but your heart melts for the people you love and it’s obvious. You’re more than meets the eye. You are worth getting to know. You are worth loving. You pursue people. You are passionate about your future. You are everything that a person needs, and I really thank God that for some reason you continue to choose to be in my life. Thank you for literally dragging me up my mountains of fear when I want to stay exactly where I am at and wallow in the sadness. You bring joy—true joy—wherever you go. You are my best friend, confidant, and biggest fan. You will be the Maid of Honor, Godmother, and fun Aunt.

I used to think lifelong friendships weren’t really a thing. It just seemed like people always grew apart and forever was never a point that was attainable. Best friends forever is a cliché phrase that is continuously overused nowadays (sometimes, I even used to make light of it), but thanks for making that a reality. You are truly the best friend I could have asked for. So thank you for it all. You make life more fun, and I couldn’t thank God more for making an incredible human, friends with me.

I love you, pal!


Cover Image Credit: Julia Dee Qualls

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4 ways to become a better friend

It's not hard to be a good friend, but taking these tips into consideration will make it even easier.


Friendship is something worth valuing, and in today's selfish society, it is hard to come by good friends. Hopefully, with these tips, it will help people see that it is simple to be a good friend. All it really takes is compassion and regard for your friends' feelings.

Most importantly, be the kind of friend you want to have yourself, and provide your friends with the same energy and attention you would appreciate in return from them.

1. Listen closely.

It's easy to be distracted by our own thoughts because of how many we produce. Yet, when someone is talking to you, try your absolute best to listen fully, and push out all the other meaningless stuff filling your head. Not just to hear what they're saying and provide a simple response, but to take what they say and how they say it into consideration.

Don't be on your phone or constantly rambling about yourself because everyone loves a good listener, especially one they can call a friend. Focus on what your friends are telling you, remember it, and process it. In order to give any worthwhile insight back, you need to be able to really hear what they're saying.

2. Check on your friends.

As a friend, it is your responsibility to make sure your friends are okay and let them know you care. Check on your friends, even when they seem okay because they might not be. If you know your friend is going through a tough time, step up and call them often. Distraction is a great way to help someone stuck in their pain.

Like the tip above says, listen when they tell you what's wrong, and do your best to console them in any way you can. Sometimes, a friend reaching out is all it takes to brighten someone's day. So, text your friends to simply see how they're doing because it will show them that they matter to you.

Even if someone is no longer your friend or one you're not that close with, have the compassion to check on them if you suspect something is wrong.

3. Be positive.

Being negative gets you nowhere in life, and if you're especially negative around your friends, it will most likely cause you to lose them. Be the light in someone's life that you may be lacking in your own. You friends want to be able to come to you to feel better, not to feel worse.

Help your friends see the positives in a situation when they're struggling to see themselves. Also, be positive in the way you treat your friends. Don't put them down or try to make them feel bad about who they are and the things they've done. Instead, lift them up and point out the qualities in them that you admire.

I think some of the best friends are those that encourage you and inspire you. Be a positive friend, and you will attract those types of friends right back.

4. Make yourself available.

We are all obviously busy with our own lives, but that is no excuse to neglect the lives of others. If you really don't have enough time in your day to shoot your friend a text or give them a call, you should rethink the very lifestyle that keeps you so busy.

From personal experience, I can tell you that feeling like your friends aren't willing to make time for you really affect your self-esteem and, at some point, the excuses they provide you with make the situation even worse. So, text your friends often, and move things around to see them because the relationships in your life are far more meaningful and important than any job or class that you have.

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