I’ve always had a big family—four brothers!  Throughout the years, I have come to learn that you can’t pick your family—that is definitely not a problem for me. I’m actually really glad that each of my brothers is so different. Jack (9), my youngest brother, is into the theater and performs all summer at the MUNY, and there’s Mason (18), my oldest brother who is a very talented guitar player. Lucas (15) plays football for Parkway West and, finally, Mack (10) who ranks in the state in diving.

I say it’s not a bad thing that you can’t pick your family. I know we probably would never have become friends without that bond, and I can say without a doubt in my mind that my brothers are some of my very best friends.

We always spend time with each other when we can by helping each other with homework or just hanging out together. Even though we might have an occasional tiff, we genuinely enjoy one another’s company.  Mason just left for college last month, but we still communicate daily—whether it’s through Snapchat, Instagram or FaceTiming.

Some people might say that with our varying ages it would be hard for my brothers and me to get along; I think it actually helps because each of us can pass down wisdom of experiences to younger brothers while the younger boys can help us with new technologies and seeing things through innocent eyes.

Other people have it different from me—people who maybe were not born into a big family or people who don’t get along with their siblings very well. One example of a situation like this is between my best friend Evan and his sister—they don’t get along at all. In fact, he even considers my family to be his family, and with the amount of time he spends at my house, people already think he is just one of the brothers, anyway!

So in Evan’s life, his friends are like family, and in my life, my family members are my friends. Friends can be family and family can be friends. Do you have any friends you consider family? Do you have some family members you consider best friends?

Either way, we are all lucky to have important and special people in our lives that consider us to be important and special, too. Bonds are more important than boundaries, and love is more important than labels.

Landon Gervich is freshman at Parkway West High School. Landon journals, plays the ukulele and has been interested in becoming a writer since the third grade.