Chosen Family

Travis - Mercer Island, Washington
Entered on October 9, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that friends truly are the family you choose. My friends have a much better sense of who I am than anyone else, and are whom I feel the closest to. For these reasons, my friends and I have essentially replaced our real families with my each other, a replacement that we have all come to terms with and accepted as a result of the lifestyle we were raised with.

Where I grew up, everyone I knew basically led a double life. Studying, exercising, and volunteering were what our parents all thought we were doing, when in reality, those were simply code words for party-hopping, maxing out credit cards, and running from the cops. Our parents were adorably clueless as to our activities, and instead focused on teaching us the same mindless lessons over and over. Naturally, we were expected to pass these ideas on to our own children when we were adults, a thought that was almost as frightening as the messages themselves; growing up to become our parents.

It got very tiring, growing up like we did, skipping etiquette classes for drug runs, or taking shots in the bathroom before speaking on a panel about alcohol abuse. That was just our basic lifestyle, and we coped by putting our lives in each others hands and wearing our hearts on each others sleeves. We learned, sometimes the hard way, that investing so much of your self in others quickly leads to a dependence, one that eventually became so strong and irreplaceable that graduating high school was the hardest thing many of us ever went through.

There were also instances between us where the issue of trust arose; we once trusted someone too much to drive home safely, resulting in paralysis, trusted someone to make the right decision, resulting in assault charges and injuries, but through all this we still managed to have complete faith in each other. I am so grateful for this trust that I still have because being able to forgive and forget instances like these has made our relationships even stronger. I’ve heard countless times from others that “family are the people who will stick with you and support you no matter what,” and since our families were seldom supportive or even present in our lives, my friends fit this description much better.

When I think about importance in my life, my friends immediately come to mind because they are the only ones who know anything real about it. I will admit, I would have liked to write a paper about a belief that seemed less disheartening, more mainstream, and maybe even a little less realistic, but the truth is that my life has always been centered around those that were going through the same thing. The people who I share with nearly every part of my own life, and I theirs, are who I consider to be my real family, a family that I have had the privilege of choosing.