“We are born into the world without being able to choose our family (good and bad), but with some wisdom and life experience we choose friends who become our family”- Linai Booker
My friend Linai (www.linaibooker.com) made the above statement on her facebook status over the weekend after attending an event that I hosted in the Tampa Bay area for a young professional group called “Reserved” that we both are members of. Like myself, Linai has spent time living in different areas of the Unite States and right now calls the “bay area” home. The rest of the quote I left off because it was acknowledging the “family” she has made within the group. It’s not that it wasn’t important, it’s that only a few would understand the acknowledgement.
It’s a simple statement but when I read it on Saturday I instantly knew that it was going to be a topic that I would write about because it touches so very close to home for myself and if there is anything that I’ve learned in this world it’s that, if something touches close to you it more than likely touches close for others. I’m a firm believer that we all experience similar things in our lives, whether that’s at the same time or at a different phase in our life is the only thing that changes.
I’ve thought about the quote all weekend because it is true, we don’t have complete control over who is family or becomes family in our lives. Some of you have testimonies about the trials and tribulations that you are going through or that your family has put you through. Some of you are still effected by family and are looking for ways out of it, so I write this entry especially for you.
Me personally, I don’t have horror stories of family. I was never mentally abused, I was never physically abused, I was never raped, I was never told that I wasn’t good enough. But most of my family (cousins as well) grew up mostly poor. We lived a life with less and that affected us in many ways. Even until this day I am still fighting the battle that poverty took on my younger life. My family has always been good people but we are distant people among each other.
The most distant has always been myself. I love my family but I’ve always done my own thing and wanted to be around my friends more. I’m a people person, I enjoy people, especially good hearted people and when I moved to Richmond, Virginia from Tapphahannock, Virginia in 2001 I began making new friends.
By the time I made the move from Virginia to Florida I had created a “new family”. People who genuinely cared for me. Black, White and Hispanic people who were strangers at one phase of my life and by the time I left three years ago were people who I couldn’t see myself not being around. Deciding to move to Tampa was one of scariest things I had done in my life at the moment. I was leaving both families. But I wasn’t leaving because I wanted to, I was leaving because I needed to.
I was suffocating. I was drowning in stagnation and I no longer felt like I could fly. Somewhere along the path of my ten years of living in Richmond, either I or someone else had snipped parts of my wings. I could only sustain temporary flight but never enough to get where I really wanted to be. So in order to regrow, to re-brand, to get further I took steps back and started over. But I started over knowing that I get to choose my new family.
That’s important to remember. When it comes to who you spend your time with, you get to choose who to be part of your family and who not to be part of your family. Your friends should become your family. If you are ever sadden, frustrated or disappointed with your circle’s consistency , you have to ask yourself. Why are they still part of it? The people you spend your time with will either bring your energy levels up or bring them down. The choice is yours.
I moved to Tampa(now St. Pete) not knowing what to expect but I moved to Tampa with only one expectation. To do more than I was (and boy am I). However, I didn’t know that along the way that I would meet people who would truly create memories in my life that I would never forget (some of them probably reading this). I didn’t know that I would meet people in a group that would ultimately end up being positive life changers. I can only hope that by my actions of love and genuine concern for not only them but the members of the group (meetup.com/reserved) that I have been a positive life changer in their lives and that they consider me their family.
I think about all the events I’ve scheduled over the two years and laugh at the memories, I think about all the people who have come and gone and I smile hoping that wherever they are they have created a new family but I think mostly of the people in my family who have touched my heart. That’s what the people in your life should be doing. Touching your heart in ways that make you feel that you are loved and cared for.
It may not always be the case but it’s okay to believe it until they show you otherwise and when you spend time with him, her or they, you need to be able to reflect on it and say “I’m glad that they are part of my life”. If you don’t have a person or people in your life that touch your heart, take the necessary steps at finding them. Human connection is not over rated, in fact it is under rated. Have you ever regretted spending hours with someone when all you did was laugh?
To change theses circumstances it may require doing the scariest thing in your life, starting over from scratch but if you want to create unforgettable memories that are positive, what other options do you have? You can CHOOSE to stay with whom you currently have and hope that they change in to the people who touch your heart or you can CHOOSE to meet new people who will. We all know what we don’t want in our lives, so use that wisdom to choose wiser the next time around.
Use that wisdom to choose to leave them alone when you become aware that the people you call family are doing you more harm than good. In regards to your blood family? You will always be connected to them and will always have to accept them for who they are but that doesn’t mean you have to always be where they are.
Make the choice as to who you will be connected to. You know, there is a commercial out for Sprint that I always smile at because in a sense it’s true. It’s the commercial where they are promoting their “Framily plan”. Have you seen it?
Sprint is allowing you to choose who is in your “network/ family”, your friends + your family. It is those people that should be in your circle and when I look at the people I call “FRAMILY” here in the bay area, I get excited about the memories that have yet to be created.
This is the only life that we have to live in this physical form and we should be living it in ways that touches our hearts so much that when we look back at it years later all we can do is cry, smile, love or shake our head in astonishment that it happened and we survived.
Furthermore, we should people that don’t want to be forgotten. we should be people who are the creator of the unforgettable memories and we should be the people who have touched someone’s heart. We can be these things and more if we aren’t already but it takes a courage like no other but it won’t happen until you have had enough of what you do have but don’t want and not enough of what you don’t have but need, go out and create your unforgettable memories..
But furthermore, go out and touch someone’s heart