1. Family is different to different people.
We all come from different cultures and backgrounds. That means all of us have different dynamics in our personal family values. Some of us know nothing else than to be surrounded by our own kin and some of us are more independent from the nest. Neither is wrong, so in crossing paths with people from different families, always remember to respect each other’s upbringing because you never know how your peers were raised. Don’t be so quick to try to hoist your ideas of how a family should be and embrace the opportunity to learn a different perspective.
2. Family doesn’t always have your best interest in mind.
This isn’t to say that family doesn’t care. Ultimately, your family always wants what’s best for you—but sometimes they might have a hard time separating what’s actually best for you and what they think is best for you. You’re always going to be somebody they want to protect and shelter, so the days you make radical decisions, whether they may be good or bad, your family’s instinct will always kick in to thwart you from potentially dangerous situations. Remember that just because you’re ready to handle the consequences of the risks you’re willing to take, doesn’t mean they’re prepared for it. Always do what you gotta do, but don’t write your family off for not understanding right away. Use that as motivation to show them all the reasons they didn’t have to worry in the first place.
3. Family will fight.
It’s uncomfortable, no one likes going through it and everyone wishes for a peaceful atmosphere, but sometimes that’s just not possible. The thing is… it’s perfectly normal and okay for family to disagree and bicker. There is no possibility for growth unless the conflicts holding that growth back surface. Once an issue is identified, it’s much easier to take action, overcome it and move forward. Hiding away from contrasting emotions in the family is like spraying a dead body with Febreeze and hoping the smell will dissipate. Face any incongruence you have with each other and let it out. You might be bruised at the end of it, but if you fought right, you most likely won’t have to fight that battle again. Have courage and hold onto love because if you didn’t love your family, you wouldn’t waste your energy fighting with them.
4. Family is not always loyal.
Which can suck. And hurt. A lot. It may be hard to internalize, but you can’t take it personal. Your mother, your father, your brother or your sister all have individual lives and self-discoveries to make, too. It’s not just you going through life’s journey. You never know what pitfalls or highs they’re experiencing, so there may come a time where you want to count on them and they’re not around. Don’t ever lose faith in your family, but make sure you know how to be completely independent should all things go south. Whether it’s their poor decision, their deliberate action or their honest naivety, don’t wait for your family to come around the way you want them to. You wouldn’t want your family putting a timer on you to be perfect, so be slow to judge their reactions toward you. Everybody has their side of the story; so make sure to keep yours straight and always be consistent.
5. Family is not always supportive.
This is also something that shouldn’t be taken personally. Family continuously has to find a balance between being your peer and your life coach. Sometimes, family can bail and not be either simply because they don’t feel they can handle the responsibility. I don’t know if it was our own societal pressure that we put on ourselves that gained us this entitlement that family’s always supposed to be in our corner, but sadly more often than not, this isn’t a reality. That shouldn’t discount the family you were born into; it should just give you an honest look at how humanity can falter. You might not understand all of your family’s decisions, and there may have been points in your life that you’ve gone the selfish route and not backed them up where they’ve asked. On the contrary, you can be the only person that’s ever been supportive in a family full of pessimists that constantly steal your joy. Know that whichever you may be, you’ve been given a life where you can choose to be self-sustained, and that’s a bigger blessing than anything else.
6. Family can hurt you in ways nothing else can.
These are the people who watched you take your first steps, scrape your knee, pick your nose, pee with the bathroom door open… they know you in ways no one else ever should. This can be comforting to have that familiarity but at the same time, it can be threatening. Sometimes, when you’re at odds with your family, they have the ability to cut you down in ways you never thought they’d dare cut you with. Family will say the harshest things to you, but it’s because they know how much you can take. Sometimes, family can get primordial and cause you pain purposely. More often than not in those times, they’re usually deflecting their own pain by projecting their felt inadequacies on you. Everyone wants to strive to be their best, so when things fall to the wayside and they aren’t going the way they anticipated, people tend to get feral about their wants. At any point in your life, that could be you in that position, so try to be aware of that whenever your family decides to jab you with the cheap shots.
7. Family isn’t a choice.
At least not the one you were birthed through. You can’t change who your parents or your siblings are, but what you can choose is how much relevance they’ll have in your life. Eventually, everyone is called to leave the family they came from to build a family of their own, so you have the full right to delegate how much involvement you want to have with each one. Regardless, you’re born into a family and you’ll die leaving family behind. Once you’ve made the choice to dedicate your heart into the people you consider family, you’ve chosen to bond yourself to them for life. Family is your first marriage and it should be respected the same.
8. Family doesn’t have to be blood.
We all have two families, essentially. We have the family we share DNA with, and we have the family we hand-picked as our most trusted comrades. Either way, sometimes there are those who get placed in a family that has absolutely no stream of consciousness. In those situations, their best chance at survival is to select a family that can provide them the fundamental sustenance they need in order to become properly functional adults. There’s a connection that runs deep with those you share blood with, but for those whose ties have been severed beyond their control, there’s always a family willing to foster a lost soul. You just gotta find them. It’s not impossible, but it’s a rare and beautiful thing when it’s found. Cherish it.
9. Family sticks together… no matter what.
No really, though. Heroin addictions, cat hoarding, gambling, drinking, compulsive shopping, serial douchebag dating… whatever your family falls into—and whatever you fall into— you all fall in together. That’s not to be confused with meaning you’re supposed to pacify your family in times of struggle. Quite the opposite. You kick your family’s ass and you take the ass-kicking when it’s your turn to need it. You hurt together. You bitch together. You grow together. This can be with the family that brought you into the world or with the family you earned throughout life. The point is, when shit gets rough, you put aside your differences and you push through until you/your family is out. **I do want to clarify on this particular subject, though. Sometimes, your family can decide to stay rooted in their harmful vices and refuse to kingdom come any deviance from those self-destructing habits. The only way sticking together works is if both parties mutually decide to stick to each other. It is not your obligation to carry dead weight. Everyone is responsible for themselves, so you do what you can and when it’s time to move on and they’re not willing to come with you, don’t stop. Once they see where you’re at, they’ll find a way to catch up. Don’t hold yourself back because of someone else’s lack of urgency.**
10. Family makes you stronger.
Let’s be honest. What else is going to run you through your paces? Your eight-month relationship with the bartender you swore you had a connection with? No, it’s your family. Through all the cutting remarks, the disbelief, the doubt and even the resolute support… no better cocktail can you consume to turn your flesh into iron. Your family has no other agenda than to push you to be the best you can be whether they consciously know it or not. Even if you come from a family that’s never been on your side, you’re stronger now because of it. You make the most of what you’re given, so whether you were given the world, or two bed sheets and a splintery computer desk, you have the capacity to turn that into fuel that will ultimately generate your success.
11 Family allows you to learn who you are.
What better guide than those who’ve walked the earth before you? Don’t count your parents out. After all, you are a product of their beings melded into one. You’re crafted and designed by traits that haven’t been revealed to you yet, but you get to preview what’s inside of you by the ones who’ve lived longer than you have. This isn’t saying that we’re all exactly like our parents because we obviously develop our own personalities that can completely contrast with theirs. But there are certain qualities that you can appreciate whether it’s been inherited or learned completely separate from the family tree. Whichever way you look at it, your family is the best mirror you have to identify where you truly stand independently and where you’ve been influenced by the ones you’ve kept closest to you. Take advantage. That window doesn’t last forever.
12. Family shows you how to succeed.
You have the resources of generations before you on their roadmap to success. You can take from it, ignore it entirely, modify it or add to it, the possibilities are endless. Life can become a lot more translucent the more you choose to pay attention to all of its little details. You have the ability to learn from past mistakes, prevent future mistakes and even create new mistakes to discover new paths that otherwise wouldn’t have been discovered. It should be exciting for anyone starting their daunting life excursion to know they have at least a basic survival kit given to them by their familial predecessors. Seize the opportunity to build the knowledge that was passed on to you and create an even stronger legacy when it’s your turn to kick the facts to your young’uns.
13. Family breaks you only to build you up again.
All the hurt and suffering you go through should never be in vain. If you aren’t able to learn from your past experiences, you’ll be going through those same experiences like a roundabout traffic circle until you finally learn to make that first right. Don’t blame your family if you’re ever stuck in a rut. If they should have the consideration to jerk you out of your seat to shake you around and wake you up, be grateful. They’re doing it because they want to see you flourish and be happy. No one going through life changes will be comfortable during those changes. It’s an awkward process altogether as if it’s like going through puberty all over again. But just know, when family can be there for you in your time of need, nothing is more fulfilling. Never forget that.
14. Family is a gift.
Some of us aren’t blessed with the picture-perfect family. In fact, most of us aren’t. But when we’re able to make the family we have work, or find a family in our own time, anyone who’s given a family to grow with and be a part of is given a very precious gift. Gratitude is the key ingredient to happiness, so practice that gratitude anytime you’re in the presence of the ones you call family. You can’t know for sure how long they’ll be around and when life may throw you surprises that pull you away from each other. Every day counts, so make this one count and consider the family you have, as broken or as beautiful as they can be, to be the best gift you’ll ever receive.