Blood, Sweat, and Peers

by: Ian Leonard

When I hear about instances of abuse or neglect occurring within families I always stop and think about how lucky I was to have been born to two loving and caring individuals. Like many children I didn’t realize how fortunate I was until reaching adulthood, but looking back on my childhood and my family, I can’t help but feel almost over-privileged. You see, no one gets to choose their blood family and I essentially lucked out. This column isn’t about the family I didn’t choose, but rather the family I did pick. For those of you haven’t already rolled your eyes, please feel free to do so now. Done? Okay please bear with me. I know it’s one of the cheesiest things someone can say, but I think deep down we all recognize that your friends are basically the family you do get to choose.

As I said before, I feel extremely blessed to have the relatives that I have, but of course we’ve had our own share of family trouble. Personally, I didn’t get along with my older brother for the longest time as a matter of fact, until relatively recently I actually held a strong resentment towards him. But even though I love my family, I understood from an early age that I just didn’t quite connect with them when it came to my passions and interests. I think this is true for most children, and it’s really not that surprising honestly. Every person is different, and while it’s nice when we do have a great deal in common with our parents or siblings, it rarely turns out to be the case. Friends offer each individual a chance to pick those whom they want to spend time with based on the values and characteristics we deem fit. It really is quite an amazing concept. I even remember meeting my longest standing best friend of over ten years as we were surprised to discover. It was a chance meeting in our 6th grade math class, a simple conversation that led to a lifelong friendship. This man is someone I truly care about, I consider him a brother, and would do nearly anything for him, all because we share a couple of similar interests.

Again, as cheesy as it sounds, your friends are just the family you get to choose at the end of the day. It’s interesting to me because many people seem to overlook this simple fact, when in reality nearly all “families” start off as two people, with no relation whatsoever who decide they want to be more than friends. This leads to two blood related families coming together, and forming a larger group. Personally, this isn’t a new concept to me. As is often said, it takes a village to raise a child, and in my case it seems like a whole city. From my neighbor down the street who practically taught me how to speak, to my mother’s best friends who were my “aunts” for the majority of my life. Your family are the people who you care about and choose to spend your time with, whether they’re related to you or not.