49 Going on 50 Mentoring Tip #4: CREATE THE FAMILY YOU WANT TO HAVE

One of my younger friends asked for some advice recently. Her family is very dysfunctional so she has separated herself from them. But she's noticing that she's scared to rock the boat by bringing up difficult issues with her partner because she fears losing the only person who feels like family to her. She also feels paralyzed to change her job because she feels so alone. I could relate to hear fears. While I have always had a lot more support than my friend, when I was in my 20s I lived 500 miles away from my family in a place where I didn't yet have a lot of friends.

You can't choose who you are related to, but you don't have to limit your family to people who are related to you by blood. You can build the family you want to have, wherever you are, consisting of the people you want to be related to. If I had known in my early 20s to build a supportive infrastructure locally that replicates a traditional extended family and spiritual community, it would have saved me a lot of loneliness as well as some less-than-optimal decisions, made because I was missing input from people who truly understood and cared for me. I had to figure this out the hard way. It has taken some time and intentionality, but I now have that infrastructure in place. You can do this, too. 

My friend has now identified several people who she would like to call her family. She is now in the process of talking to them to make this formal request. One woman has agreed to be her mother and she invited me to be her sister. What an honor!