If you have ever read The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams Bianco, you might recall the conversation between the Skin Horse and the Rabbit about what it means to become Real.
“The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"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."
"I suppose you are real?" said the 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.
"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
Our brains try to trick us into believing that our favorite actors, musicians, writers, and artists are having a completely different experience than we are. We believe that they are the Real Thing, so to speak. And when you are Real, you don't...
Feel like a fraud.
Get nervous before a show.
Hit a roadblock that makes you question your self-worth.
Feel confused about what's next.
Experience exhaustion, doubt, hunger, desperation, etc., etc.
The list is endless.
The truth is that we are all Real.
Real people cry before opening night because they are scared to fail.
Real people feel like Imposters so much of the time.
Real people admit when they don't know the next step.
Real people don't need to pretend they don't get scared.
Writing this blog post to you, I feel joy and I also feel a bit like an Imposter. Do I know what I'm talking about? Thoughts thoughts that start to creep in, slow but surely, and get into the cracks of your soul, trying to make themselves at home? "Is anyone reading this? What if everyone secretly thinks I suck and that I should just give up? Am I embarrassing myself by refusing to quit?"
Writing this blog post to you, whatever I feel, I also feel Real because I was able to type those fears onto the page and share them with you. It's started to sink in more and more lately that the people I admire don't know everything, aren't necessarily the experts in their field, but they are authentic and they show up as they are and don't try to pretend to be anything other than what they really are: their Real selves. Showing up as our Real selves is also the first and most crucial step in being able to play and be creative and exercise our imaginations. Hiding who we are takes an incredible amount of energy and this energy is then no longer available to dream and make things. We are the stewards of our own energy and we must wake up to the truth that our energy is meant to be used expressing the truth of who we are, our Realness, and not wasted hiding from our true selves. Creativity starts with honesty. It begins with being Real.
There's always going to be someone or something that shames you for being Real. I'm not going to be one of those people and this space is always open (thanks, interwebs!) to you to show up in all your Realness. I'm glad you're here and I'm glad that we can share this space together.