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August 17, 2010 / Melissa

Family matters: not just an awesome TV show

Lesson Four: Family, in whatever form it comes in, is always there. A piece of who you are and where you come from can help complete a sense of self. Remember to be that family to someone else as well.

Once I started college, I learned quickly that it’s easy to develop a surrogate family. Not only is it easy, but quite frankly, necessary. Seven years since I started my undergraduate education, I am so blessed to have staff and faculty members with whom I continue to have regular contact, professional mentors, and friends with like interests and a solid understanding of my own development and a point of reference that is sometimes difficult to establish in new relationships and situations.  And as I move on to different parts of the country, from the Midwest to the East Coast to Upstate New York, that family has stayed and others have grown into the mix.  My best friends from grad school (pictured here), are people I can count on, no matter what part of the country we find ourselves in.  They provide a stability and security that 20-somethings often lose quickly once a structured social environment like school is suddenly missing.  The trick to surviving this change – as I have found many casual friends having great difficulty with this -is trusting yourself and your friends as if they are your family.  And with that trust, you know that no matter where you are, how long it’s been since you’ve talked to someone, or at whatever phase you are in life, they will be there.  Does this sound like some psychoanalytic development theory?   Probably.  Erikson, Piaget, and Freud might have been crazy, but they were pretty smart old men.  Actually, I attest this to Karen Horney’s psychoanalytic social theory.  Leave it to a woman to figure this stuff out! :)

This year, despite its crazy, has presented me with a resounding sense of understanding of the meaning of friends, who have become my family.  The depth, commitment, and intimacy of my friendships has reassured me that we all have our “stuff,” but if we join together in this crazy world, we can make it through together

Because at the end of the day :

Sometimes I’m clueless and I’m clumsy
But I’ve got friends that love me
And they know just where I stand
It’s all a part of me
And that’s who I am

Through this sense, I have a daily reminder via random telephone calls, Facebook posts, lovely handwritten letters and cards, text messages, etc that even though a friend may be out of sight – or even out of communication for some time  – a true friendship does not mean out of mind.  The security in this realization creates an atmosphere of overwhelming understanding of one’s sense of self and place in the world.  Even if all other desired roles are not in order (e.g. not working the job you want to, living the place you’d like to be, dating the person you expected, etc.) a role in an adopted family of friendship remains constant – a stability that propels one to more forward no matter the circumstances.

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