About seven years ago I decided to commit myself to having authentic friendships. If you're not careful, it's so easy to go through the motions of friendship without really connecting.

Initially, I believed that authenticity required complexity. My friends and I would share and I felt this subtle pressure to offer some brilliant tid bit of advice.

They'd tell me that their boyfriends had said something stupid. I'd try to comfort them about looking at the good things they had experienced with him. I'd encourage them to be patient and understanding. I'd remind them that every experience contained a lesson. It couldn't just be that their boyfriend was an a--h--e who didn't appreciate them. There had to be some deeper meaning.

Another friend confided me that she had been laid off. After devoting herself to college, graduate school, and a career, she was let go without notice. She was devastated. I reminded her that everything happens for a reason and that there was a silver lining inside of every cloud. The answer couldn't be that she was working for a company that was poorly run or that she had failed to see the writing on the wall...

Recently, someone confided that her ex-boyfriend said something incredibly vile. He asked her whether she wanted him to apologize for not being in love with her. Despite having the gift of gab, I was at a loss about how to respond.

I had no platitude. I had no cliche. Indeed, I was instantly aware that nothing that there was nothing that I could say to take the pain away. It sucked. He sucked. And my friend was hurting.

I realized that there was nothing to say. I realized that my other attempts to make things better were also misguided. Sometimes you simply can't fix it. However, you have to do something.

I realize that sometimes the most authentic thing you can do. Indeed, the only thing you can do well, is just be there.

So, in the future, I shall try to resist the urge to instantly respond with some useless irrelevant comment. Instead, I'll simply listen and be there.
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