Sunday, August 10, 2008

When Friends become your Family

I've been toying around with this idea for a while. I kept thinking, yes, let me write about this now. Or no, it's not quite time yet.

But the truth comes out that this is much harder to broach than I had originally thought.

I have a wonderful family. My mom is close by in both location and heart. My brothers and their families are not so close in distance and although, we don't always see eye to eye, we always have each other's best interests at heart.

But what happens in between all the family time?

You work, you play. You spend time in places where your family is not.

I don't know where I read the statistics, but we spend more time at work than we do at home. How scary is that? No matter how hard we try, we often end up spending more time with our co-workers than we do with our loved ones.

This can be a challenging situation for some, as it was for me in the beginning.

On the outside looking in, we are as different as different can be. Our cultures are different. We had different degrees of education, majors, family situations, siblings, places of birth. You name the difference and we had it.

However, if you open up your heart and allow the differences to take on a lesser importance, then you find that you are really not all the different from the people you work with.

As much as I've thought about it, my co-workers have really become my brothers and my sisters. We've got each others best interests at heart, much like my own brothers have.

It's a very interesting situation because by not being related by blood, you are more open to sharing your opinion and being open about your past. There is no pre-existing knowledge of a shared childhood. They are seeing through your eyes and are able to add their own knowledge of their own childhood into yours. They can help to color your memories with a brighter and more vibrant spin than perhaps you were able to give it yourself.

The best thing that you walk away with is a larger support network of people who know you, who love you and accept you exactly the way you are.

You can choose your friends. You cannot choose your family.

You cannot choose your co-workers but you can choose to have them become friends.

I feel very lucky to have a group of people who know me and understand me (sometimes more than others) but still love me unconditionally and wish me the best.

So this can be challenging to write about. How do you put into words the gratitude you have for people who you spend so much time with, who you can't escape from but yet who you have no real ties to other than the shared experience of your workplace?

You really can't. But the opinions they have of you, if you're ever lucky to hear them, is perhaps higher than the one you have for yourself.

"Don't mistake her kindness for weakness."

"You are destined for greater things, I can just feel it."

I am so very grateful to have them in my life. I couldn't have chosen better.

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