By Christine Nguyen Contributing Writer Family isn’t just the people we are related to; family is the people who love us unconditionally. The quote “Blood is thicker than water” is a shortened version of the original quote “The blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” The quote is interpreted to mean that family love is stronger than any other kind of love, but it means that the people we’d shed blood for are the ones we love most. Shared blood doesn’t automatically mean love because not every family situation is the same and some people think of close friends as their true family. People shouldn’t be forced to love their family, but instead decide for themselves through their actions whether they truly love their family and whether they’d shed blood for them. Blood related family isn’t always perfect; parents may not accept the choices you make and try to force you to do what they believe is good for you. They might not even consider your happiness and instead do what they want. It’s natural to love your family because you grew up with them and they were all you ever knew, but as you grow older you expand your family through close friends and family isn’t just the people you’re related to by blood anymore. You don’t replace your birth family, but instead add new members to it. Family is the people you’d give up everything for, even die for because without them life has less meaning to you. It’s not just one sided though, the people you consider family would love you just as much as you love them and do everything in their power to make sure you’re happy. Family is more precious than people can imagine; In the words of Donna Hedges, “Having a place to go – is a home. Having someone to love – is a family. Having both – is a blessing.’” With family comes belonging and finally belonging allows you to be yourself. At times though, the people you’re related to, your family doesn’t accept you for who you are and they aren’t your true family. They’re the people who raised you and are related by blood, but if they aren’t able to accept you for you then can they truly be considered your family? Family is the people that love you regardless of your mistakes and make you feel as though you finally belong and can be yourself. As said by Unknown, “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs. The ones you accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile, and who love you no matter what.” Family is the people that you choose to love because they make you happy and you feel complete being with them. Family isn’t the people who bring you down and make you feel inadequate; family is everlasting love, support, and loyalty because no matter what mistakes you make they’ll love you and be there for you. They might fight with you or let you down and in the end it all depends on you, if you decide to remain close with them because you shouldn’t have to be unhappy when you’re giving your all and they aren’t. In the words of Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, “Ohana means family – no one gets left behind and no one is ever forgotten.” If you’re truly family with someone you’ll be able to forgive them for mistakes unless it’s something that betrayed your trust and is unforgivable, but they can still be seen as family.