Realizations About Family We All Have Eventually

May 2, 2019  |  
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culture and family dynamics

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The years between, say, 15 and 25 might be some of the most tumultuous, confusing, emotional, and overwhelming years of our lives. There are several reasons for this including the fact that we lose our virginity during those years, learn to drive (and have our first couple of small accidents), apply to colleges/get rejected from colleges/go off to college, get our first jobs, have our first serious relationships, and learn to stand on our own two feet as adults. Woah. That’s quite a decade. But there is one other thing that is happening all along: you’re defining and redefining your relationship with your family. I’d say around our early teens is when we first learn that we won’t always get along with our families. Our late teens and early twenties is when we exorcise our right to separate ourselves from our families. And our mid twenties is when we reach some sort of equilibrium, and no longer feel that dealing with our families is a constant uphill battle. Here are realizations we all have about family—eventually.

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You can’t stay mad at them for long

You will feel, many times, that you couldn’t possibly forgive your family for something—that you couldn’t possibly move on from something they’ve done. And then, you will. It’s biological. You can’t stay mad at them forever. Plus, doing so is just exhausting because they aren’t going anywhere.

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You (usually) can’t emancipate them

That brings me to my next point: you may attempt to cut some family members out of your life. Then, you’ll learn that the strife and drama that causes is worse than whatever anger that family member caused you. Between the rest of the family getting angry with you about or having to juggle events like crazy now that you’re avoiding that family member—it’s just not worth it.

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You can’t be all open, all the time

You come to terms with the fact that you cannot tell every family member everything about your life. They’ve developed their own viewpoints, beliefs, and values. You have yours. Some facts about your life—facts of which you’re quite proud—would only welcome a lecture or fight you didn’t ask for.

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Some topics are better left untouched

As for drama and history within the family, there are some things you just learn are better left untouched. You don’t need to tell your sibling how you feel about her husband—they’re married, and you barely see them anyways. Just find a way to have fun when you visit. You don’t need to bring up the one family member who borrowed money from the other, and lost it. It never leads to anything good.

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You’ll apologize when you’re right

You will have to say you’re sorry when you didn’t do anything wrong. In fact, you will have to say you’re sorry when the other person did something very wrong, but you are the only one emotionally strong or intelligent enough in this case to see the truth or apologize. So you do what you must for everyone’s sake, and you apologize.

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You’ll forgive when no apology was offered

You will also have to, in your heart, forgive family who did not offer an apology. Even as they assert they were right the whole time, you will have to—deep down, in your own way—forgive them. The apology is not coming. And you can’t live with the anger forever.

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You can’t say no when they need you

They will need you at the most inconvenient times. The good of the family will come in direct conflict with your personal needs and wants at the worst times (like when your mom wants you to stay with her, for a week, after a rather minimal surgery, forcing you to miss an important networking event). And when this happens, you’ll say yes to your family.

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You’ll try to say no; it won’t take

You will try, once or twice, to put your foot down, create boundaries, and put yourself above the perhaps futile and selfish demands of your family. And then the guilt will eat you alive and you’ll realize that doesn’t work out.

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You take comfort even in those you hate

You actually find comfort in being around the family members you despise—the ones who aren’t even good for you. Even though you hate them, there’s comfort in the fact that you’re allowed to openly hate one another because you’re family. There’s an honesty there that doesn’t exist in the real world.

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You are, a little bit, like the ones you hate

You will also have to swallow this humble pride: you have some character traits in common with those you can’t stand. You will find yourself realizing that you have things in common with the family members you literally despise.

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Some fights will last a lifetime

While you won’t stay angry the whole time, there are some fights you’ll just never resolve. There are some things you’ll never see eye to eye on. You have to give up on the idea that you’ll ever come to any sort of resolution on certain subjects, and life will go on, nonetheless.

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Somebody always feels slighted

If there is one common theme amongst all families it’s this: feeling slighted. Everybody feels that, in some way, some family member (or multiple family members) isn’t giving them the attention or respect that they deserve. You can feel that way about your sibling while your parent is busy feeling that way about you.

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Somebody else’s is worse than yours

Some days, you’ll feel very silly for getting so down on yourself about your family. Why? Because you’ll become aware of a family that is truly worse, and makes yours look like angels.

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They made you who you are

Love it or hate it, they made you who you are. And if you like who you are, then you actually need to—perhaps silently—thank your family for getting you there. Even if you’re just that way because you’ve made a point to be the opposite of your family. They still guided you.

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But, they don’t need to define you

Just because our family shaped you doesn’t mean they must define you. You can and you do separate yourself from them. You carry on your life, the way you are proud to, without allowing your feelings about your family dictate your day-to-day behavior.

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