8 Reasons Why Big Families Shape You Into The Best Version Of Yourself

by Deirdre McAndrew
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

I've always been a family-oriented girl. I grew up with cousins who were some of my best friends as kids and still are today. My aunts are like my second moms, and my uncles are second dads.

Some people are skeptical of this lifestyle, while others are jealous, which I understand more. I consider myself one of the luckiest people out there.

Being apart of a big family, filled with cousins and extended members, has made me into who I am today. In the long run, my family is who I have to thank for a multitude of reasons.

I noticed how lucky I am when I was celebrating a family reunion, which occurs every five years, this past July 4th weekend.

My phone was flooded with texts asking what my plans were from friends and acquaintances. When I responded with, "Sorry, I'm going to my family reunion," some people understood, while others responded with, "Oh, that sucks."

Little did they know, this is a weekend I'd been anticipating for years.

A big family has many perks. With relatives traveling from all over, taking off work and clearing their calendars, and only a few unable to make it due to traveling overseas, I knew I was one lucky girl to be apart of an amazing family.

Both my mother and father's families have taught me lessons I take with me wherever I go: in a new job, a new school or any new adventure.

Without these lessons, there are many situations I would not have experienced so positively.

There really is power in numbers.

Having a big family is kind of like having your own personal army. They'll keep you grounded when you need to be, but if you need backup, they are the first to act.

It is extremely comforting knowing I have people to turn to in moments of weakness or anger, people I know I can always count on and trust.

Loud is good.

I have grown up going on family vacations that entail late nights and early mornings. Not just early mornings, but early mornings starting with being woken up by pots and pans, blaring music and singing.

I have also grown to learn that there is always a reason to start a chant, if only to let out a burst of happiness.

Growing up in my family immersed me in an environment that prepared me for everything from sleepover parties to college roommates. While my grandparents may blame their compromised hearing on it, we wouldn't want it any other way.

Your siblings will become your best friends.

Throughout the times of countless arguments, physical disputes and nasty exchanges of words, I never in a million years thought I would look to my siblings as friends.

As I got older and became more mature, I took note of my parents and their siblings. The relationship they all have is one of friendship, not just familial bond.

I see the way my mom and her sisters plan weekend getaways, and how my dad makes it a point to text his brother every day. I realize they don't feel obligated to keep in touch; they have actually developed such strong bonds with their siblings.

I've found myself texting my big brother more frequently, giving my sister a call once a week and making arrangements for my little sister to visit me and planning concerts for us to attend.

I suddenly have three new best friends.

It's always a good time to sing.

Some people will disagree, but whether you are at a sporting event, out to dinner, in a movie theater or stuck in traffic, singing is always the answer.

Singing puts everyone in a good mood and usually leads to dancing, which gets everyone involved.

Whether it is a made-up family song (which we have many of), or a top 10 hit, singing is always happening in our household. It's the best way to welcome someone and to send someone on his or her way.

Good food, good drinks and good friends is all you need.

It's not a party with out the essentials: food, drinks and friends. Every occasion comes with lavish homemade appetizers and entrées, thanks to the massive amount of people in my family and their talent in the kitchen.

The best ingredient in the melting pot of festivities is most definitely the good friends who we welcome with open arms. It's the best of friends who keep coming back, probably for the good food and drinks, but hopefully for the good company.

A hug from your cousin may just be the best medicine.

Through the good, the bad and the ugly, a hug from your cousin will, without a doubt, raise your spirits.

Whether it is a jumping up and down, congratulatory hug after being accepted into your dream college, landing the perfect job or winning a championship, it is simply the best.

In another light, when you are down in the dumps, a little love from a cousin can turn your perspective to the bright side. Before you know it, you and your cousin will be laughing about the crying and carrying on to happier times.

Family always comes first.

I have been in a multitude of situations filled with compromises, especially between family and friends: Do I go to a sorority formal or a birthday party? Do I go to a friend's beach house or the family beach house?

When I know family should come first, it almost always does. I think my feeling of FOMO originated from the family gatherings we couldn't attend when I was younger because, god forbid, I missed out on cousin time.

Regardless, we almost always made the trek. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

Love never fails.

Most importantly, I have learned -- from all 22 cousins, nine uncles, eight aunts, four grandparents, three siblings and my two wonderful parents -- that love never fails.

At the end of the day, it's your family that will alway have your back. If there is one thing I can accredit them to, it's that love is all you need.