“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's 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.' 'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit. 'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.' 'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' he asked, 'or bit by bit?' 'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.”
- Margery Williams Bianco, The Velveteen Rabbit
I don’t think I am real.
I want to be real. I want to be authentic. I want to be genuine in that Gandhi-esque, my-life-is-my-message sort of way.
But I don’t think I am.
Yes, the Japanese say we all have three faces (one we show to the world, one we show to our close friends and family, and the last, we never show anyone). I worry that the last one, the truest reflection of who I am, is somehow outgrowing the other two. I wonder if anyone really knows who I am anymore.
Perhaps I was naïve before, believing that everyone could be showed that last face. My life was an open book. Why did I need to hide anything? Maybe I behaved like a child. Maybe I lacked emotional maturity. After all, lying is a sign of cognitive growth in children. Is that what I’m doing?
I remember a therapist once talking to me about my secret garden, the things I didn’t tell anyone. Why does it feel so uncomfortable to put things there?
Because, on some deep, yes childlike, level, there are certain parts of me I need to be seen. We all need to be seen; this idea of someone being a witness to our lives. Maybe to witness and to approve.
But I know I approve of myself. I know I am happy with who I am and how I am choosing to execute this human existence.
So why does it matter?
To get some answers, I started to implement a Zen proverb: When alone, act as if with honoured guests; when with honoured guests, act as if alone.
Ever so slowly, something started to shift. I wasn’t two people anymore.
I became comfortable with picking my nose in public.
(Just kidding. But you get the picture.)
I started to become real and I started to like who I was. Maybe it was that I began to love myself.
It was so freeing and felt almost selfish – but I was so happy that I didn’t really care. I am so happy.
Yes, I am so very happy and real.