There’s a really cheesy quote that I’m sure most of you have heard by now that says, “Friends are the family you choose.” As tacky as it is, I can’t help but admit that there’s so much truth behind this saying. 

Maybe I’m feeling a little sentimental and mushy because all my childhood friends are finally coming up to Fairfield this weekend to visit me, but I also can’t help but stress the importance of friends who become family. It’s something that has definitely become important to me as I went through high school and as I now finish up my last year in college. 

I come from a very big Italian family, so it was ingrained in me at a very young age to essentially “protect the pack,” or to always have your family’s back– no matter what. My childhood was all about being close with my family and always doing things with the family. However, as I grew up and grew apart from cousins and family members I used to do everything with, I couldn’t help but drift to a new “pack.”

It was in high school when I realized that there were people outside my family who I could also have a familial connection with. It all started out with some longtime childhood friends, as well as friends I met along the way, who shared similar interests as me. Through the years, these friends would be the ones that stuck when no one else would. They were the ones I could always count on.

I soon came to realize that having that sort of “second family” is so important because they’re there to encourage and love you through everything. They’re your support system– whether it’s high school or college. In high school, my friends were the ones that were there for me when I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life or when we were scared about the impending future. This only happened again in college when I found kinship in friends who were struggling to adjust on their own, just like me. 

These kinds of friends are the ones that are going through the same things as you are or know where you’re coming from. They’re the friends that will drop everything to help you out when you are going through a rough patch. They’re the people you can vent to about things that you’d never tell your parents or the ones that are there for you when your blood family isn’t. 

At least in my case, just because these friends aren’t my blood doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t do the same for them that I would do for a normal member of my family. After knowing many of my friends for years, there isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for them. Heck, my longest friendship with someone turned 20 years old this year. At this point, our families are basically family. This also goes for friends I’ve met in recent years at college that I know I’ll only continue to keep bonds with.

Friends do come and go, but once you form that sort of “ride or die” bond with someone, you know there’s no going back. Those are the relationships you hold onto and you never go back on because 20 or 50 years from now they’re the people that are still going to have your back no matter what. 

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