My Friends Treat Me More Like FamilyGrowing up, I moved around a lot. I have been in four different school districts. I never actively tried to make friends because I was painfully shy and was bullied. Somehow, I always found friends. All of these friends were different, but one thing they all had in common was how well they treated me.
My family has always been judgmental and critical of me. It seems like nothing I do is ever good enough or I'm too stupid to know how to do anything for myself. My friends did not treat me this way. They didn't treat me like a dress-up doll like my mother did or an unintelligent person like my other relatives. They treated me like a person with feelings and thoughts. They treated me like I was human.
At 18, I see this now more than ever and not in just my friends either. Almost everyone outside my family treats me so much better than my family does. My grandfather, for example, thinks I can't take care of myself. I am babied and treated like a five-year-old. He seems to not want to acknowledge that I am not little anymore and it is nearly crippling. My friends, my teachers at school and my counselor, on the other hand, all see me as a fully-functioning adult who is capable and knows her own mind.
No, I'm not perfect. I make mistakes like everybody else. But it's the fact that I feel so much more respected by those outside my family that makes me feel they care more about me. My friends show more concern over my mental well-being than anyone in my family does. I can easily talk to almost anyone outside my family and I have no fear of being judged.
Right now, between my counselor and my best friend (both of whom I've known for just over two years), I feel like a middle sister. My best friend is the little sister who I adore and my counselor is the big sister who I ask for advice about almost anything. Just thinking about these two makes me smile and my day is brightened the minute I see them. I never felt this way with my family. Not once, can I remember.
My friends are the ones who have always made me feel like I'm a person and I belong. If there's one thing I've learned in life, it's that the meaning of family isn't blood. It's not about who's related to you unless you're going solely by biology. True family are those who never leave your side, who respect and care about you and who support you.