Finding New Family

It’s amazing how much, and how quickly, life can totally change.

Most of the people that I now call family, I didn’t even know 2 years ago. I may have seen them on the street or passed by them on the way to to class a few months earlier, but we’d never talked. Now, they’re almost all the emergency bypass numbers in my phone. They’re the people I call when shit hits the fan. The people I can be honest and vulnerable with. The people who can watch me rant and rage about injustice and shame cycles for hours on end, nodding and affirming when appropriate, and then just coexist while we work after.

These are my people.

This last week was one of the sets of moments where it all really came together. A beautiful Friendsgiving. Busy and full of good food, noisy children, and adults wandering in as they got off work with hopes of a full plate and a fuller heart. it was so, so loud, but there was beauty in the cacophony. Children of all ages and backgrounds, sugar high and building with Legos together. Adults from barely 18 to in their 50s, taking about their latest discoveries and career changes and goals and what do you think of your mattresses because I need to get a new one. Random and spread out and a dozen conversations happening at once in the most beautiful way. For most of the night, not a smartphone was in sight.

This isn’t what I’m used to holidays being like, but I love that this is how I get to experience them now.

I’ve learned a lot of things from my pain, perhaps more than anything how to prioritize. When you’ve only got 3 hours upright per day you learn pretty quick how to prioritize what needs to be done in those 3 hours. I prioritize according to my values:

  • relationships, because I value humans and being in community.
  • career, because I value a good work ethic, financial self-sufficiency, and just genuinely enjoy working.
  • health, because although I can’t cure my chronic illness, I can make sure I eat my veggies, drink enough water, and brush and floss twice daily.
  • slow living, because I value living life with intentionality, contentment, and joy.

These priorities haven’t always come naturally to me. Priorities in general didn’t. I felt like to be any kind of “successful” I had to do it all, perfectly, as though that was the only thing I was doing. Prioritizing gave me a little piece of my sanity back. I had to learn to cut out the endless checklists of what I had to do to be successful enough, busy enough, good enough so that I could actually do the things that needed to be done to live according to my values.

My friends, and new Chicagoland family, don’t give a crap if I have the perfectly clean home. It can look lived in. The island doesn’t have to be perfectly cleared all the time. They care if I text back, show up when I can, and engage. It doesn’t matter if I have the perfect ab lines, as long as I’m taking care of myself. This family doesn’t base their love on artificial measures of success. It’s all about coming together, building community, and being with each other through good times and bad.

This is my family. These are my people. As I live according to my values and priorities, I am grateful to have so many people who have taken me in, and who cheer me on as I push toward my goals.

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