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As we navigate a world shaped by the aftermath of COVID-19, the value of chosen connections becomes increasingly important. Let’s understand what a chosen family means. It goes beyond the traditional idea that family consists of a mother, a father and siblings. A chosen family is a network of people who intentionally choose to embrace, nurture, love and support each other, regardless of blood or legal ties. It’s not about replacing our biological family, but about creating a support system based on love and choice.
To identify your chosen family is to reflect on who you would call during a crisis, as well as who you would show up for when you were needed. Although the concept of chosen family was popularized by queer individuals, individuals of any sexuality can experience the positive benefits of having a chosen family. These relationships provide us with emotional support, healing and profound insights.
During a recent road trip, the profound impact of such chosen connections was vividly illuminated as my younger sister and our two dear chosen sisters embarked on an unforgettable journey along the scenic coastal highway, tracing the route from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
For years, the four of us had wanted to go on a trip together and finally, the stars aligned. Our friendship stems from the bond shared by our respective parents, who were the best of friends themselves. Growing up within a 5-minute stroll from each other’s homes, we spent countless hours playing together, sharing family celebrations, gathering around dinner tables and engaging in meaningful conversations.
During our journey, we shared stories and challenges as we laughed and cried – all while basking in the warmth of each other’s company. We were swept away by waves of joy and delight, relishing the picturesque route and awe-inspiring natural beauty. Collectively, we discovered that each of us was dealing with encounters of grief, loss, anxiety and uncertainty. We learned from each other, provided comfort, honored our differences and felt a sense of belonging.
Amidst the backdrop of this memorable experience, the preciousness of biological and chosen families has taken on a renewed emphasis. Below are a few of the benefits that chosen connections can provide.
Emotional Support and Well-Being: Chosen connections can provide a safe space for individuals to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns related to the pandemic and its aftermath. The nonjudgmental feedback, empathy, understanding, and validation these loved ones provide can help us process our experiences and regain emotional stability.
Healing and Renewed Sense of Belonging: Building trusting relationships with our chosen connections can help us better navigate life’s challenges, celebrate achievements, support one another in times of triumph, and find solace and joy in the presence of those who uplift us.
Coping and Resilience: Chosen family members often play a crucial role in providing support during times of crisis and adversity. Research shows that having a strong support system – including chosen family – can enhance our resilience and ability to cope with stress, and promote growth after experiencing trauma.
Celebrating Joy and Life’s Milestones: Chosen connections offer us a space for making memories together. Whether it’s embarking on adventures together, gathering for special occasions or simply enjoying each other’s company, our chosen family can provide practical support, encouragement and motivation to find joy in our daily lives.