Family is a funny concept. Some people think that family can only consist of your blood-related relatives, while someone else’s concept of family includes people they aren’t related to at all.
Personally, I never felt close to my traditional family. I come from a large, Vietnamese family, with 10 aunts and uncles, and even more cousins. I have a (mostly annoying) little brother and two parents. From an outsiders perspective, my family probably looked relatively normal, and if I’m being honest, I know how lucky I am to have a family while there are so many out there who don’t have that privilege. But I still never felt the overwhelming love for my family, whether it be immediate or extended, that some of my friends did. I do know the reasoning behind this, and it’s quite messy, but to sum it up I think it was the fact that my parents were big believers on “honesty” and “tough love,” when all I really wanted was affection and confirmation. I know they love me in their own way, but I can’t help feel some sort of resentment that I never got the childhood I always wanted, and that my friends got. All I ever wanted to was make my parents proud of me, and to receive some sort of confirmation from them that I wasn’t a complete failure. Sadly, this never really seemed to occur. I wasn’t athletic, I never had straight A’s, and I go to a junior college. Needless to say, I’m definitely not the favorite child. This used to bother me a lot more when I was younger, but since this has been going on most of my life, I think I just adapted and became okay with it. Sounds sad, but it’s a way to me to sort of cope with things.
Whenever I talk to my friends about my family, it’s always like treading on ice. I try not to overshare because these people know my family and I feel like it would be awkward to share too much in case they encountered them. I also feel like I sound like I’m ungrateful in some ways, because I live in a relatively nice house, in a safe neighborhood, and I don’t have to worry about money for the most part. But it’s come to a point where I’ve squished my trauma and feelings down so far that it’s overflowing, and I’m scared one day that it’ll bubble over. I’m getting better with communicating my feelings with my friends, and I’ve surrounded myself with people I love and trust immensely, so I know that they’ll listen to me and give me the reassurance I need.
Maybe it’s because I’m young and a millennial, but I can honestly say that my friends make up the family I’ve always wanted. My friend group is unique, to say the least. I always love merging friend groups and introducing my ‘band friends’ with my ‘model united nations friends’ and I think it’s one of my favorite things to see the people I love interact with each other.
Whatever your thoughts are on who you think makes up your family, I hope that in the end, they love and support you no matter what you look like, how successful you are, and what you choose to do with your life. Sounds corny, but we really do only get one shot to live an amazing life. So, just choose who you live that life with wisely.