My Friends Are My Family, Seriously They Are

Who says you can't choose your family?

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My phone just rang. I didn’t wince at the sight of it. I didn’t silence it for seven rings, then meekly pick it up and lie through my teeth: ‘Oh hiiii, good to hear from you.' And I certainly didn’t spend 12 minutes padding through a yawn fest of the latest news from Corrie, and how next-door neighbours Bob and Dee had ruined the week by cutting down a mutually shared apple tree.

No, I ran to the phone, picked it up with cheer, and chatted about everything from whether I should actually quit Uber for 2016 and how the Beyoncé might have actually broken the Internet. I listened, and laughed, and I even got some pretty sound advice.

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Why? Because I was talking to my very best friend, and not my hard of hearing, slightly oddball, soak of a second uncle. 

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‘You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family’, so that boring old saying goes... Well, I’m calling bullsh*t. In 2016, we can choose our family too.

And so I have four sisters, two mothers, three mildly over-protective brothers, and a few random cousins who swap in and out depending on the week. They were all once BFFs, but now - as Sister Sledge rather aptly said - we are family. They are my sisters from another mister, brothers from another mother…

Unlike others I do have a biological family – albeit a very small one – that I actually like a lot. But those that don’t know, or like, theirs, I see no reason for them to be stuck with their lot. When you get married that person becomes your family, so can the same not be true of friends?

There’s some science to my theory: studies by University of California show close friends are likely to be as genetically close to one another as fourth cousins are. The research shows that perhaps we actually choose our friendships according to their DNA, and that we now have a sort of ‘functional kin’. 

My 'family' and I actually met at university - we bonded over a love for Missy Elliot, an ability to drink bottomless vodka Diet Cokes, and a mutual respect for Cheese and Onion Real McCoy’s. 

Over the years our bond has solidified through great times – the time we rented a fishing boat in Croatia and spent the day swimming in the buff in turquoise seas with Rihanna pumping from an iPhone (who could ever do that with their real family?!) or the New Years Eve we spent dancing to 90s RnB in a basement in Berlin.

Equally they’ve been there for the rubbish days: failures, heartbreak, deaths and redundancies. It was their lap I howled into after a man with a beard dumped me, and I’d drunk all of East London’s tequila supplies. And them who drove five hours in to hold me during the service at my mum’s funeral. It obviously helped greatly that they all arrived dressed looking like mini Meryl Streeps and Goldie Hawns from that scene in Death Becomes Her.

Mainly – much like any family life – our relationship is about the everyday: our year of watching The OC together every Sunday squished on to one sofa, the Saturday eggs in the local greasy caff. And, of course, the Tuesday night advice line - because for them, I’ll always want to pick up that phone.

PICTURES: @KarlieKloss (I'm in the back hiding!)

Over the next month we will be encouraging real meaningful connections with the women in our lives and publishing a collection of exclusively online essays that explore the ever-changing landscape of female friendship today. 

Get involved: pick up the phone and call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while, you never know what you might discover, then join the coversation on twitter with the hashtag #PHONEYOURFRIENDS. 

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