Create The Family You Want
The Perfect Family, that myth from 1950s TV and Norman Rockwell paintings has probably sent more of us into therapy than all of the Halloween movies ever made. Personally, I think there are probably more unicorns around than Perfect Families.
And you know what? I am okay with that. For those of us that left the corporate world, and have created our own paths, it’s not been an easy journey, but it has been a necessary one for our own survival and personal happiness.
Unfortunately, it has also been a journey that alienated many of us from our families. Fathers that slaved away for decades in an office or menial job to support the family, never happy at his work but fulfilling his ‘obligation’ to support the family. Mothers that stayed home, doing laundry, cooking, ’keeping house’ and being there for the children.
The Problem Straight Out
When you were growing up, your parents probably told you that you could be anything you wanted in life. What went unsaid was ‘as long as it is exactly what we did with our lives’.
The problem is that many of us did exactly what we wanted with our lives: we went out and started businesses, did our ‘own thing’ and along the way, built happy and successful lives. And woke up one day to realize that our parents totally disapproved of us!
Sometimes, it’s because your family really doesn’t understand what you do, but sometimes it’s because we have the courage to go out and simply do what we want to do – and they did not. By taking that risk, we challenge them and their choices, and they don’t like what they see. Rather than put up with the thinly-veiled insults from relatives that honestly have no idea what you do (or that you are paying more in taxes than they earned last year), ditch the traditional family and create your own. No, I don’t mean sitting around the table with a bunch of inflatables.
Define Family For Yourself!
What I do mean is to start thinking differently about what family IS. Is it people that you are related to by an accidental sharing of DNA – or is it the people that honestly care how your day went? The people that you call first to share the successes – or bombs – of your business, or the calls that you let go to voicemail when you see their caller ID? The people that you look forward to seeing on Hump Day or the people that make your heart sink as you walk up the path to their front door?
You don’t have to be related to be family. Family is what we make it, the relationships that we create and nurture, and that nurture us in return. Family adds warmth, and comfort and a sense of well-being to every aspect of our lives. It is the backdrop for our joy, our sadness, our successes and our failures, and everything in between.
But what it is should not do is undermine our sense of self, destroy our beliefs or ridicule our goals. We should not have to defend, endlessly, our every decision, and our very lifestyle. But for too many entrepreneurs, this is the case, and the chasm it creates between our ‘blood’ family and ourselves is very often too wide to cross.
Create the Family if You are Missing it!
Look around you! As entrepreneurs we tend to attract others of a like mind, folks that see nothing wrong with a commute that ends at the espresso machine in your kitchen or that you worked until 3am yesterday. Or that you worked in pjs most of last week. It’s what we do, it’s who we are, and most importantly, it’s who we want to be.
Embrace it. Enjoy your friends, and realize that THIS is the best family you can have. Skip the stress of worrying about going home for the holidays – reach out to your friends and start new holiday traditions with the family you create yourself.
Share the food and fun – even if you don’t share the DNA 😉