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. – The Velveteen Rabbit
A few weeks ago, I ordered a book called Twenty-Two: Letters to a Young Woman Searching for Meaning. This book stood out to me for 3 reasons. One, I’m currently 22 years old. Second, during this new season of life I’ve been searching for some meaning of my own. And third, I thought the cover was really pretty (just being honest). The book is basically a series of 22 letters the author, Allison Trowbridge, has written to a Ashley, a fictional college student looking for mentorship. I’m only 5 chapters in, but I already really like this book. The way it’s set up, it literally feels like you’re talking to a close friend. There’s something so personal about it. I feel like Allison is writing these letters to me.
Chapter 3 really hit me hard. It’s all about becoming real. At first, I was really confused. Aren’t we all real? We’re all real-live human beings, so how can you become something you already are? But Allison isn’t talking about becoming real in a physical sense. She starts out by discussing how society is so focused on immense wealth, social ranking, and perfect appearance. We’re all focused on becoming something or someone, but these things aren’t real. As Allison states in her book, “Life is not about becoming somebody; life is about the process of becoming.”
As for me, I gave into what the world wanted me to become. There is so much pressure to plan out your life and follow a timeline. There’s like this imaginary list of boxes you’re expected to check as you go through life. Especially in the age of social media where picture perfect moments are glorified and dangerously considered everyday life. There’s the expectation to graduate college, immediately begin a reputable career, meet and marry the perfect guy, raise beautiful children….the list goes on. I believed a lie for a long time. I believed this checklist was real. I believed that as I checked off these imaginary boxes, I would become real. I believed there was something wrong with me, because I wasn’t checking off these boxes within the time period I was “supposed” to. The scariest part of all is that I was so scared of not checking these things off that I began attempting to force these things to happen in my life. Spoiler alert: you can’t force it. Ironically, in my attempt to become what I thought was “real” I finally came to understand what being real truly is.
Being real is different for everyone. It’s learning to love yourself just the way you are, and letting go of who you feel like you should be. It’s living your life full of authenticity and vulnerability. Becoming real will almost certainly be painful, just look at the quote from The Velveteen Rabbit. However, I’ve learned that not being real is so much worse. This isn’t something that happens quickly. I’m still in the process of becoming real, but it is something I strive for each day. I encourage all of you to take a step back and stop focusing on becoming someone, and instead begin the process of becoming. I’ve linked Allison’s book below! Have a great week, everyone!