By: Eleanor Coughlin(she/her/)
Editorial Team Member

I have seven siblings – one younger, six older. Only one of them, my younger brother, is actually related to me in any way. My six older siblings are my ‘honorary’ older siblings–my found family. I love my younger brother to the death, and I love my honorary older siblings just the same.

We met through an After School Matters program in the summer of 2020, when Covid had completely taken over the world, and I had just turned fourteen. They’re all only a few years older than me. Currently, I’m sixteen. The youngest of them other than me is eighteen, and the oldest ones are twenty.

The program that we met through was a music and theater program. Our guitar teacher in that program, Andrew, was one of the instructors. Me and my honorary older siblings immediately clicked with him.

Since we met in 2020, our program was online, on Google Meets. After the program had officially ended for the day, we started to stay in the call after all the other people had left. We would stay on there for hours, often going into the late hours of the night.

Our sort of familial bond formed the moment we became closer friends. Since I was the youngest in the group, they would joke around, calling me a twelve-year-old kid, despite me being fourteen. Eventually, those twelve-year-old kid jokes faded into “Oh, you’re just our younger sibling.” I would do the same, calling them my older siblings. But those jokes slowly started to not be jokes, and the realization that I genuinely saw them as older sibling figures set in. We would also joke that Andrew was our father, and that we were his kids–but once again, those jokes faded into reality.

We all have very busy and very different schedules, so it’s hard to see each other, since none of us are in the program anymore. However, we always try to have a weekly FaceTime/Zoom/Discord call, keeping up with the tradition we formed when we were still in the program.

People understate the importance of found family all the time. There’ve been people I’ve met who are very family-oriented, and have the firm belief that your family should come before all else, even before yourself. But when I’ve asked them if found family counts, they almost always say no. In their opinion, they can’t see how found family could be just as important as your blood-related family.

But my found family has changed my life in amazing, unexplainable ways. They’ve been with me through my highschool years so far, through all my most intense ups and downs. They’ve taught me so many things, they’ve helped me become a stronger, more confident person.

They are each so important to me. If I hadn’t met even one of them, I would be a completely different person.

Hannah is one of the first people I’ve been 100% sure will always be here for me. She’s always the first one to respond to anyone’s text; to help out with anything. If I have a problem, I know that I can go to her and she’ll do everything she can to help. She’s one of the most helpful, caring people I’ve ever met. She makes me feel appreciated, and that appreciation has made me love myself so much more.

Jolie has made me realize that I’m strong person. Before I knew her, I was never fully confident in sharing my feelings and opinions, but then she came along. In my eyes, she’s always been able to express her opinions so strongly, and the more time I spend with her, the more I look up to her, and the more I feel able to share my own opinions without hesitation.

Abby has always made me feel safe in any situation. Her presence is like a warm hug, and it’s one I’ve always felt secure being around. Even if we’re talking about something negative, when I’m around her I always have the feeling that everything will be alright, and that’s made me actually believe it.

Jake is someone that I relate to on so many levels. I like to think of us as the same person in very different fonts. When we first met, he was who I wanted to be like. I’ve evolved a lot since then, and he’s played a huge part in that. I’ve grown into my own person, and learning how similar we were in the first place has made me realize that me two years ago would look at me now and yearn to be me.

Noah is one of the most unique individuals I’ve ever met. If someone said that they didn’t notice Noah, I’d be surprised. He doesn’t have an outlandish or loud personality, but it’s still unique in a more calm and collected way. Hearing him talk about the things he loves is always been an incredibly fun and inspiring experience.

Atlas has never failed to put a smile on my face. He’s unhinged in the best way possible, and whenever I’m around him I feel a sense of freedom. Atlas seems so unafraid of judgment, whereas I’m always terrified of what others will think. His fearlessness has inspired me to care about others’ judgment much less.

Andrew has given me confidence to do one of the things I love most now: to play guitar. He has been unwavering and supportive in everything that I’ve done with it. He was with me when I was just first uncertain, plucking guitar strings, to now, having been playing guitar for two years. And that support has grown from just guitar to my whole life.

Blood-related family is important, but I never see people talking about the importance of found family, and how they can be just as meaningful as the people related to you by blood.

In an emotional sense, I have two homes. My first is my house, with my blood family. The second is wherever my found family is.

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