My beautiful friend Denise taught me what authentic friendship can look like. We met the first week of college. Her twin sister was in my freshman orientation group and immediately played match-maker, saying that we would make the best of friends. She was right–Denise and I hit it off right away!
Our friendship grew closer as the years went on. We pursued the same double major, so we had several classes together. We walked with each other through boyfriends and break-ups, early morning education classes, group projects, and late-night study sessions. Both perfectionistic in nature, there was a healthy dose of competition among us.
Denise invited me into her life and into her heart. She was willing to go to the deep places of her soul–sharing the pieces of her messy, beautiful, redemptive story with me, holding nothing back. Her vulnerability and authenticity invited me to do the same. Denise was never afraid to confront the hard stuff–gracefully exposing the unhealthy habits I had developed: skipping meals and over-exercising, people-pleasing and avoiding confrontation, anxiety and gossip.
She invited me to meet with her weekly, and started a prayer journal about our friendship. Every week we met, we’d talk about our struggles. We’d pray together and cry together. Denise saw me for who I was, and called out the beauty that I brought to the world.
It’s been an honor to see Denise live her life with authenticity and vulnerability. Here’s what she had to say about authentic friendship:
Authenticity is going to the deep places, even when others won’t. It’s being willing to open up your heart with others. It is asking the hard questions and also truthfully answering them. Transformation comes from authenticity. Until we are honest with ourselves and then with others, we can not truly start to see our hearts and others’ transformed. Authenticity is empathizing and feeling with others when they hurt, not giving advice. Authenticity is the key to connecting deeply. Authenticity is messy, raw, and beautiful all at the same time. It sharpens you and others. It breaks down walls. It bonds. Authenticity can cause conflict, but paired with humility bridges the gaps. It’s painfully beautiful and the beat of my heart as I seek out relationships. Authenticity is not easy, but it is always worth it.
Are you willing to take the first step to be vulnerable, like Denise took on me? It’s not easy, like she said, but it’s always worth it.
Love, Ali xo
This is part of a series called 31 Days of Authentic Friendship. Click here to see all posts.
I'm Ali. I write about my journey of living a full and healthy life with food allergies, overcoming the comparison trap, and cultivating authenticity.