College Culture: How We Became Our Friend’s Parents

words+pictures/ MEGAN SIBLEY


I first realized that I was all grown up when I was hired at my first terrible part-time job in my university career (grocery store, floral department, use your imagination). My first day on the job I was given my little green apron, and about 600 forms to fill out (God bless unionized workplaces). One of those forms had a space for an emergency contact- in case I amputated a finger with the sheers or got soil in my mouth, which responsible adult were my employers to pass me off to? For the very first time in my life, I couldn’t absentmindedly scribble in my Mom’s name accompanied by our home phone number! She lived 400 kilometres away and I would most certainly die long before she arrived! I haphazardly scrawled the names of my roommates, knowing full well that they would at least Uber to my aid in a time of need.

Maybe, more than anything, this piece serves as a shoutout to the people who have adopted me. Though not blood related by any stretch of the imagination, your college pals are the closest thing you have to family in the overwhelming world of adulting. Without realizing it, you develop this unsung pact to look out for one another, and keep each other safe. Suddenly you are telling your friends to text you when they arrive home, and sitting on speakerphone with them for hours as they drive back to school in a snow storm. Sure, you don’t ask for this maternal role, but I think we all develop a bit of a Momma Bear persona in our post-secondary days.

Cherish your biological family- whoever they may be. Your mom, dad, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents shaped you in to the human that you are today. They gave you your capacity to love and be loved, and taught you what it meant to take care of someone else by taking care of you. Take what you’ve learned from these special people and pass it on to the family that you choose for yourself. Maybe your family was a sub-par example of what family should be; that’s okay, allow yourself to be embraced.

Your early-twenties is one of those awkward phases when independence is crucial to your success. It’s important to survive on your own, whether that means just learning how to do laundry, or running your own household. We are expected to grow strong, and withstand the elements. I say this is an awkward phase because while I am constantly working to build myself as an individual, sometimes I just want to be taken care of. There are times when I get really tired of being a contributing member of society, and I want to sit down at my childhood dinner table and tell my parents about my day at school. And that, my friends, is why family (by any definition), is so vital. The support system that you turn to when your mom isn’t there to hold your hand can determine the course that your adulthood takes.

This was mushy, I get it, but some days I feel like I won the lottery. My family, both chosen and chosen for me, is pretty spectacular. I would not be the woman I am without their guidance and support, and I am the first person to admit that I could not begin to tackle this big scary world without them. As heartless and cold as we try to portray ourselves these days, I hope that when we’re old we always remember where (and whom) we came from.


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