REAL is never ugly.
Ah the wisdom of the Skin Horse and the precious, inquisitive nature of the Velveteen Rabbit… I doubt there is a more poignant exchange in all of literature. Many of us grew up with the beautiful story of the Velveteen Rabbit and his journey of becoming real through the power of love. It is a story written for children, but I don’t think we grasp the true meaning and depth of the story until adulthood.
The famous conversation between the Skin Horse and Velveteen Rabbit begins as the Rabbit is struggling to feel settled in his new home in the nursery. The Rabbit worries he isn’t as expensive or impressive as the other toys with their mechanical parts. He feels he doesn’t quite measure up and feels insecure and less than. One day the Rabbit decides to ask the wisest of all the toys in the nursery, the Skin Horse, what it means to be REAL.
The Skin Horse gives the simplest, yet most complex of answers.
“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… then you become REAL.”
The Skin Horse goes onto say that becoming REAL does not happen overnight. It is a process. Becoming REAL isn’t for the faint of heart. It isn’t meant for those who prefer to be perfect, who prefer a safe life on the shelf. Becoming REAL happens to those who do not mind the ups and downs life and the uncertainty of love. REAL happens to those who accept that being hurt may be painful, but it is better than being numb.
Yes, life might leave you tattered and bruised. Yes, you might have scars that remind you of missteps and fallen dreams. But, as the Skin Horse so wisely states, once you are REAL you do not care that you are not perfect. Perfection and having it all together are no longer the goal. You don’t mind if people see your mistakes and heartaches. You don’t mind if people see your tears and fears. Why? Because you know you are REAL and “once you are REAL you can’t be ugly.”
You can stay on the shelf and avoid any decision in life that may leave stretch marks. You can keep love and people at arms length for fear of being hurt. Or you can practice vulnerability. You can show up and be seen in your life. Vulnerability opens the doorway to giving and receiving love. When you believe you are loved and lovable, you don’t mind if you’re “loose in the joints and very shabby” because you know you are REAL … you know you are enough.
REAL is never ugly. REAL is beautiful and approachable. REAL is courageous and strong. REAL is contagious and inspiring. REAL is never ugly.
How has life and love helped you become REAL? How has becoming REAL freed you from the yoke of perfection?