Growing up away from family can be hard. While it is nice to have your own space and your own life, away from a town of people who are all somehow related to you, it can be lonely when you are on your own. Luckily, I have some amazing cousins, who make spending a week with family feel as though we see each other every day. I have been lucky enough to have cousins who are not only family, but also some of my best friends.

Although we see each other only once, or sometimes if we are lucky, twice a year, I feel like I can tell my cousins everything. After all, they are the only ones who truly understand how amazing/funny/crazy the rest of my family is. We grew up spending part of our summers together- from playing volleyball in my grandparent's backyard, staying up way past our bedtimes and always having the most exciting kid's table in town, we only know how to survive family reunions together.

As we got older, seeing my cousins became less about watching endless episodes of "Drake and Josh" together, and more about catching up. I would always pack my year book, making sure to update them on everything and everyone worth talking about from my school year. Our relationship had grown from playmates to real, true friends.

Seeing my cousins as we all grow up and begin to truly figure out who we are is a totally new experience. When I am with them I am so happy to see the amazing people they have become and to know that we have been through a lot of the same things from the start. It is really a blessing that I have such amazing friends, role models and family in my life. I am thankful for the memories and love that we share, and I could not think of better life-long friends in the world.