"We Are Family"

"We Are Family"


"We are family… get up everybody and sing" are words repeated in a popular 1979 Sister Sledge song. Defining family as those individuals that are related to one another by blood, genetics, birth, and marriage. "I got all my" fill in the blank, brothers, sisters, cousins and me. Family was thought of only those who seem to show a distinct or common characteristic feature that was altered only when someone was added and produced offspring by matrimony.  Ultimately, people who we didn't have a choice being related to because we were just born into it – family.

Many people today may wish not to be in that biological formed family because of hurt, disappointment, and some expectation that wasn't met by the way we defined the members of our family. Because they just aren't emotionally close or connected. I would agree. Unfortunately, biological families don't come with an instructional manual, and therefore, you work with what you have... or do you? 

Once you get of age and independence, I believe you can shift whom you call family. You can make a choice to stick with your biological family that you were born to or connected by marriage, or you can choose others that still have a similar role as what is usually expected from the biological members. Most of us want family that will support us, guide us, and overall love us. Love - that must be defined how it looks as well. So, who or what is to say we can't find that in those we don't look like or share blood with? 

Today, I think of family like the people I care about their wellbeing and prosperity. They are the people who wish the same for me and most importantly are present to pour into my greatness. I no longer have to be restricted to just those who favor my appearance and traditionally share some percentile of heredity. I have identified family as those I choose to call "my own." Especially as an entrepreneur, I need a surrounding that encourages me, mentors me, and at times may even financially invest in me. 

I laugh with these people, cry on their shoulder, and they have been witness to my transformations as they occur, good or bad. They stand by me and collectively share with me their experiences, joys, and time. These are the people I now call family. I call those who have been with me through challenges and victories, tried and tested = family. Those I know I can request help from and receive it! Choosing to be around those who are like-minded; birds of a feather flock together not because we resemble each other. I now call family synonymously my community. And I have a large, diverse community for every goal and role I am in life. My version of the song would sing, "be that what you need, define your family, be a part of an uplifting community," reflecting behaviors of my family instead of just inherited traits. 

Dr. Heather Lewis, MD, MPH

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Doc Heather is a military veteran primary care specialist = preventive & occupational medicine with a passion for public health policy, women's population health, and professional development. Here to advise, empathize, and expand humankind-ness and medical literacy.