The Family You Choose
Have you ever thought about family in the terms of who do you think of as family? And why? Well I have been thinking about that term a lot over the past few months and here’s what I have learned….
If you’re like me you might think of family as people from your own tribe/clan and others that you have grown to love, adopting each other along the way. I am lucky to say I have strong bonds in both in hashtag #lucky.
So this is what my friends have taught me:
1. Your friends share History. Once a month my best friend and I have a phone date where we crave out a few hours to catch up. There’s a shared language that kicks in immediately and we are no longer 3,500 miles apart we are sitting right next to each other on a couch talking in our shorthand language “you know” and “that time with that thing? Yeah it was like that” as we have for decades.
2. You friends reflect who you are. I recently heard of the Rule of Five…in a nutshell it’s the new idea outlined most recently in Neil Pasricha’s book The Happiness Equation that you’re essentially the average of five people you’re closest to. Pasricha’s provides an example, “want to know how positive you are? Average the attitude of the people you spend time with,” he writes “and then see how your mood changes based on who you’ve been spending the most time with.” It’s not a perfect theory (I am pretty sure most of my friends are way cooler than me), but I thought it was a helpful self-check. Who’s in your friend circle?
3. Your Besties want the Best for You. A long time ago I was taking the train from Washington, D.C. up to NYC for the weekend and I met this amazing woman on the train and for some reason we just started chatting. I was kinda startingout in my career and she was successful businesswoman. Over our two hour train ride we talked about life, love, my future goals and my friends. One of the things that still stands out to me was her story she had grown up poor and was homeless for a period of time and I remember her saying that that’s when she decided that she wanted a different life than the one she’s was leading as a teenager and that she promised to surround herself with people that wanted the same things she wanted for herself. So, she chose only friends that believed wholehearted that she could accomplish everything that she said she set out to tackle. It was a grounding conversation and as I have been reflecting these past few months on what family and friends mean to me I suddenly remembered this encounter.
I also remembered what my mom use to tell me growing up you don’t want fair-weathered friends they fly away when the weather isn’t nice. But you don’t want foul-weathered friends either-people who may vent with you when things are tough but won’t crack open the bubbly with you when things are awesome. Sounds simple, but it’s easy to fall into friendships based on where you are now rather than where you want to go. Your family of choice should help each other get there no matter how long you have known them. And if you reach a point where you find that there are more foul-weather than Ride or Die then it’s time to say “thank you, but I am going to keep it moving” and let go. It'll be good for them and you!