My brother and I throughout the years have always had discussions on what it means to be "family" or what it means to be a "friend". These two words have unspeakable power especially in the way we define ourselves as human beings. It is often said that what defines us isn't how much money we have or our status but our relationships and who we are to those we love.
"Family" is something that most of us are born into and we do not choose who we are related to biologically speaking. As I've gotten older I've realized that I actually can chose who is my family and who is not. I think that is because the closest family members I have are also my "friends" and somehow that meaning holds weight with me above all others.
For me, a friend is someone who I can confide in, someone who understands me like no other and someone who I can be vulnerable with without being judged or ridiculed. A friend is someone who doesn't expect anything from me because they are my friend and chooses to be a part of my life because they want to be. I've learned that sometimes family members expect to be a part of your life but they do nothing in the "friend" category to deserve to be. This, to me, is why the number of those closest to me continually shrinks as I get older.
I love the idea that choice is one of the aspects that defines human expression. That is how I see my relationships. The choice may not always be in words but in actions. A person's actions will let me know that they choose NOT to be a part of my life. People who only take and do not give. People who drain your energy and are only concerned about you helping them. People who are more interested in what they have to say then what you do. People who are selfish and self-absorbed. I could go on but those people, family or friend, have no place in my life.