The one essential thing my friends have in common

I felt honored when one of my most observant and insightful friends told me, “You are living the authentic life everyone wants to live.” I smiled as her comment reminded me of an ice-breaking exercise at a women’s retreat I attended, in which participants were asked to note what they most value in a friend.

My friends are diverse and unique, so I had to think about this for a while, trying to discern what one essential thing they have in common. They have varying personality types, lifestyles, modes of dress, ethnic backgrounds, levels of education, vocations, avocations, political views, and spirituality, so the kind of words I considered included honesty, loyalty, functionality, and openness, but none of them was quite it. Finally, I realized that the trait I most value in a friend is authenticity.

Authenticity is the single thing my friends have in common, the one element I expect in a relationship. Those I choose to let into my life in a meaningful way are authentic, genuine people. They are not fakers or manipulators.

Nobody can be completely authentic 100% of the time, and we are all walking wounded who sometimes need the comfort of denial to keep us sane. Of course, each of us succumbs to fears and foibles that result in hiding oneself, in keeping things locked inside, or in miscommunication. Still, those who are my close friends strive for authenticity; they work at breaking through denial, at allowing their feelings, at self-examination, and being true to themselves. These I consider among the most courageous and the most worthy of my heart and hand. It is an honor to know them as I do, and to count them as my friends.

(c) 2005, 2010,  Shay Seaborne. All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to The one essential thing my friends have in common

  1. Andrea says:

    What a compliment your friend gave you! Authenticity is such a powerful thing, sometimes hard to find, but wow, so liberating.

    I came across your website this morning and am having such a great time reading your insightful posts. Great stuff!!

  2. shay says:

    Andrea, thank you so much for stopping in to read, and for letting me know you are enjoying my writing. That warms the cockles of a writer’s heart.

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