“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 your 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
We are hardly the first ones to say it, but children’s books are filled with an enormous amount of life wisdom. Above is one of our favorite quotes from Margery Williams Bianco’s timeless classic, The Velveteen Rabbit. This sweet quote says just as much about humans as we age as it does about a beloved stuffed animal.
What is so wonderful about this passage is how it transforms and repositions the concept of age in the collective imagination. As Bianco so nostalgically explains, aging isn’t about deterioration, it’s a wonderful, yet challenging process of becoming… becoming real.
So what does it mean to become real? Becoming real is about revealing one’s true essence, peeling away the outer, unnecessary layers to get down to the “real” core. Realness is a beautiful thing, yet it’s a kind of acquired taste - one that can only be appreciated by people who understand.
Realness is gained in time, it’s a badge of honor, it’s a sign of wisdom. Realness shows that you have let go of vanity and appearances in favor of experiences, and the pursuit of truth and core values. While shabby joints and drooping eyes and loved-off hair might be symptoms of a life well-lived, it’s more than worth it. In return you become real. Uniquely beautiful. A living, breathing canvas painted by your life experiences.