The Gift of Authenticity: Once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always. -- Margery Williams
Several years ago, I received The Velveteen Rabbit as a Christmas gift. It is a favorite of mine and especially poignant on the topics of self-acceptance, vulnerability and authenticity. If you are a fan of the book as well, you’ll remember the conversations between The Velveteen Rabbit and Old Skin Horse. One particular conversation they shared about being real went like this:
“Real isn’t how you are made. 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, The Velveteen Rabbit
Old Skin Horse understands the importance of loving oneself- the good, the bad and the ugly- and offering that same transformative love to others. At the heart of becoming Real, is the acceptance of being perfectly imperfect.
“I suppose you are Real said Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.” Skin Horse smiles because he accepts his authentic self and therefore can truly love Rabbit, wear and tear and missing eyes.
May the season of Christmas gift us with becoming real in our relationships with ourselves, family, friends, and the stranger among us. Tuck the voice of the Skin Horse away…
"Real isn't something you are, it's something you become."