In Margery Williams’ The Velveteen Rabbit, a stuffed toy is given to a boy as a Christmas gift, but soon forgotten, set aside in favor of other “more expensive” toys. The older and wiser, Skin Horse, befriends the rabbit, teaching him about love and becoming real.
“Real…. is a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real. It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges or have to be carefully kept.”
“Being real” is something I always strive for, yet sometimes fail at. The impact of COVID 19 forced me to reevaluate who I am outside social interaction and the human hamster wheel. I’ve gotten more in touch with my “truth,” recognizing where my value lies (including to other humans), and acknowledging who and what I’ve genuinely missed these past few months. (I also realized being labeled a “flaming extrovert” is incorrect, although I can play that role when necessary!)
Do you ever allow yourself to be real?
When you look at the mirror into your eyes—not your daily assessment of your physical appearance—what’s reflected back?
As Williams writes, do you see someone who “breaks easily, has sharp edges or has to be carefully kept”? Do you even know—or think about—who you are outside the roles you play? Life can be filled with commitments, responsibilities, and challenges. By stripping away any extraneous layers and going back to your core, you can see yourself through a different lens.
Being real requires honesty, that has to start with you.
It’s easy to fall prey to the screaming gongs of “this is how you should look, act, live.” Some people morph into someone they’re not, believing they have no choice if they want to be accepted, respected, desired, or loved.
Stop trying, or pretending, to be someone you’re not. Whether you’re still attempting to measure up to a mandate received as a child, recovering from a relationship that minimized you, or living with an ego that simply can’t wrap its arms around being “less than perfect,” stop and list the ways you are amazing just as you are. When you’re not trying to be someone you’re not, you open the door to being genuine with others. Believe in yourself enough to take that chance.
In The Velveteen Rabbit, the Boy’s stuffed toys were alike in many ways.
We humans, at the core, have mostly the same physical components. The difference is that some of us have hardened hearts, ravaged by life, while others are blessed with abundant love and security, and many of us keep reinventing ourselves thinking, “one day, I’ll get it right,” but some people have never even attempted to “dip a toe in the water of real” because “permission was never granted.”
When you express what you think, risk being vulnerable, and decide to be yourself—to love yourself—you dance in concert with the God-given beauty of you. It’s then that you truly become real.