You know that scene in the Velveteen Rabbit, the one where the toy Rabbit asks the toy Horse about being Real and how it happens and whether it hurts?
We all have stuff in our lives like that–pet projects or changes of who we are that are big. And we start to wonder, “When can I say This Is How it Is?” Not, “I’m starting to…” or “I’m working on…” or “I’m becoming…” but I AM.
I AM is big. It’s huge. “I am who I am” is God-talk, big, space-claiming, identity-turf-staking stuff. The verb “to be” creates reality as often as it describes it. And it’s funny, because in our culture we tend to be most comfortable claiming our careers as our self-definitions. “I AM a doctor.” Less easy to say, “I am a dancer” if you “only” dance twice a week for a couple of hours in class. Harder still to say, “I AM a thinker” or “I AM a woods-walker”. If people are going to think they know what it means to be A Whatever, then we are setting ourselves up to be judged: judged not A Whatever, or not sufficiently However to be a Whatever (not in shape enough to be an athlete, for example). Other people start creeping into our definition in our heads, and with them comes doubt.
Maybe I’m not A Whatever after all. Or maybe I’m not even qualified to be A Whatever. Maybe these voices in my head are right.
And so to you and to them, I say this: You begin by saying it is so.
Not planning to be so, not beginning to be so, but so. Right now*. If you are becoming a blogger and you have a blog and you write posts? You are a blogger. If you are coming out and sure you should be but you’ve never slept with someone of the same sex? You are GLBT. If you are starting a business? You are a business owner. It is not like the Velveteen Rabbit. You don’t have to wait until your stuffing is missing and your eyes are falling off and you have smooth spots all over from being loved. You will become that way because you are real, and you will be real by living it. Saying it, meaning it, and making it happen. Don’t wait for anyone else. It’s real when you say so. And the time is now.
What’s your real?
*Unless of course we’re talking law or medicine or something with an entrance requirement and you haven’t passed it yet.