Jun 27, 2011

The Family We Choose For Ourselves

"Friends are the family we choose for ourselves" - Edna Buchanan

Most of us are raised to believe in certain family values. For a lot of people, these values are enforced by a loving, caring family. For some, family become these people who expect much and offer little in return. Others, meanwhile, have little actual family to begin with.

But there is something we all value in our lives. Our friends. The thing is, we often don't take the time to tell these people how much they mean to us. We can lose touch over time as we move to new places, change jobs, and take on new responsibilities.

Over a year and a half ago, through the wonders of Facebook, I got back in touch with an old college friend. We started talking occasionally, and as we're both writers began comparing wordcounts every day. I credit this, by the way, with being one of the main reasons I finally got my first book completed and ready for querying. Now we talk pretty much every day and we can't wait until we're both in the same country again for long enough to have a proper reunion.

The more we talked though, the more I realised just how much of an impact we had on each other. We both had some tough times early on in college and, unfortunately, we drifted apart. Neither of us were happy with how things turned out, though. We carried on, each wishing we'd been a better friend.

Today, we are both better people and better friends. She's one of the closest friends I have and I'm thankful not only that we're back in touch, but also that both our lives have come along so well. We're both happily married; turns out we first got together with our respective spouses in the same year as each other, and later got married in the same year! We both love the lives we have. Most importantly, we're both cracking on with our writing careers together.

Second chances are amazing things, but not every friendship gets one. Remember this. Family you're born with. Friends are the ones you bring into your life by choice. Sometimes that takes a little more work to maintain. But it's worth the effort.

To all my friends reading this, thank you for choosing to have me in your lives. You are my family.

*And I've learned since writing this that July 30th was officially declared by the UN to be International Friendship Day. How awesome is that?

4 comments:

  1. Very well put, Paul. It's really easy to let our friendships fall away with how busy we get. It's important to tell our friends how valuable they are!

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  2. I truly believe I wouldn't be around if it weren't for my friends. Or I wouldn't be in the content place I am in my life without them. Choosing friends wisely was a lesson I needed to learn and I have. They are wonderful. So glad you re-connected with someone that special, Paul.
    Karen

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  3. For those of us who have a tiny family circle, friends are hugely important.
    A lovely post, Paul, and great to hear of your re-ignited friendship.

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  4. Talli: I think in some way, we grow up expecting that our friendships will become less and less important. We're always told that family and work come first, but that's not true. We need to invest in our friends as well as our families and careers.

    Karen: Thank you, and I agree. I would not have gotten through the tougher times in my life without my friends. Not that I've had it especially tough, in hindsight, but still. :-)

    Mari: Thanks, I'm glad you liked it. I figured it was something nice to talk about on a Monday morning.

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