The Gift of Authenticity

A friend told me recently she has never been happy in her whole life. And while that might sound heartbreaking, it was honestly one of the most beautiful, hopeful interactions I've had in a long while. 

We were not in a bar commiserating as old friends. In fact, we're barely more than acquaintances. And yet we found ourselves in the middle of a crowded lobby talking authentically about our real selves. The beautiful part. And she was sharing not out of despondency or to complain; she was sharing about taking control of her future by owning her past story. The hopeful part. 

It's all too rare in life to have genuine, life affirming interactions with good friends. Not because we don't care about one another, but because life is moving fast. And we're all busy trying to be so many things to so many people in so many settings. So experiencing moments when all pretense is gone, and core emotional truths are open and vulnerable is a gift. And so to have one with a casual friend on a random day in the middle of a crowded room was an especially unexpected gift. One that I will now treasure. And one that reminds me to be open and hopeful for more of these interactions- not guarded and cynical of sharing my true self for fear of being real. 

And this casual friend is on a journey of being real. One that I find attractive. In fact, since I own a small business, I sort of have a rule not to "friend" my customers or staff on Facebook. If they friend me, of course I accept, and I'm genuinely happy to do so, but I've always felt that given our real world relationship, I don't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable like they have to be my friend and not just my customer or employee. (Although I do genuinely like and think of all my customers and staff as friends.)

 Anyway, this woman on her journey of understanding her self and becoming real was so compelling to me even before this recent conversation, that I broke my own rule and requested to be friends with her almost a year ago. Actually what I just realized when I checked when we became friends, was that I reached out to her that way exactly the month I went to a training about leadership being a spiritual practice. The month I learned that doing the hard work examining self and working through the emotional barriers we all have is necessary to be more fully present to the people we serve. And the month I wrote my blog about my journey to becoming whole. Which is a revelation to me. In my mind, I had thought I had only been Facebook Friends with her for a few months. But it makes sense now that of course that was when I reached out to know her more.

Because you see, until that recent conversation, I did not know any specifics of her journey. But through interacting with her on a regular basis over the last 7 years, I could see/can see that she is becoming whole too. I could see that she was being genuine and authentic, or trying to be. And it made her beautiful and compelling. And then once we were friends on Facebook, I found that she says the most outrageous and honest things- most of the time with profanity involved. And it is like a breath of fresh air whenever I read her posts. Really profane fresh air... 

And so I write this to affirm for her that I see her beauty and am hopeful that she will one day find happiness. And I write this to remind all of us- that having the courage to be authentic, and sharing part of our real selves with casual friends on random days in the middle of crowded rooms can be life affirming in the most beautiful, hopeful way...