In the world we live in today, filled with filters and highlight reels, it can be increasingly difficult to remove the masks we wear to hide our true selves. The key to transforming an acquaintance into a friend and a friend into family lies within authenticity. When the masks we wear to shield ourselves from rejection and pain are lifted and we show our real faces, we give others the space to do the same.
Authenticity is being able to clearly see the intentions of another person. It’s the ability to fully be yourself without the fear of consequences. It’s the moment we decide we don’t have to change who we are to fit someone else’s idea of who we should be. No guards or walls block another’s understanding and full view of our character. It’s knowing exactly what we’re going to get. This can be an intimidating idea, but the relationship that can blossom from the effort is worth it.
For me, this idea became prevalent during my freshman year of college. All of a sudden, I was surrounded by unfamiliar faces in a town I had never lived in before. Trying to find a group of friends among strangers felt forced and uncomfortable, so when I clicked with certain people, it was a breath of fresh air. These moments occurred when I was fully alive and able to disregard what others thought of me. Because freshman year was a time for me to deeply get to know myself and what I wanted in life, I wasn’t afraid to reach out to others that I knew wanted the same thing. When we decide to pursue an authentic relationship, we go out of the way to make that relationship grow.
I think one of the most satisfying feelings we can experience is when a person we are interested in being friends with confidently asks to spend time with us. This is because they’re not hiding their desire to see behind the mask we wear in public. They aren’t afraid of rejection. This small first step can be the foundation for an honest relationship.
If a relationship is built on a foundation of vulnerability, it is likely to flourish past the small talk phase. Two people who genuinely desire the best for each other lift each other up and celebrate each other’s success. Jealousy can never be a part of a truly genuine relationship. Equally important, though, is the necessity of honesty. Part of living in an authentic way is accepting our own weaknesses and wanting to challenge ourselves to grow. If someone is by your side and wants the best for you, they will know when and how to challenge you to be better. It can be easy to believe your closest friends should never disagree with you, but then how would anyone ever grow?
If we want to live to our fullest potential, we must be willing to bare ourselves in all of our vulnerabilities to other people. We must also give other people the opportunity to do the same. We won’t have to worry about rejection or judgement, because the foundation of honesty and transparency elicits the security we all desire. I know the memories I’ll cherish most from college aren’t the tailgates or formals, they are the moments of being my authentic self with friends. Because that’s what college is all about, isn’t it? Discovering yourself and sharing that discovery with others.