This is a selection of excerpts from the book illustrated below. All credit goes to Holly Gerth. I was so encouraged by what I read, I just had to share a snippet of it here. I also have to put my hand up in the air and say, “yes, that’s me – I need to be real”. (I have no connection with the author other than respect).
We don’t want to see the vacuum lines in your carpet. Instead we want to hear about what’s causing those worry lines to crease your forehead. We don’t want to be impressed by your cute shoes. We want a glimpse of your soul. We don’t want to read your “I’ve got it all together” blog post when we know that inside you’re falling apart.
In a classic children’s story called The Velveteen Rabbit, a toy bunny longs to become “real” too and asks another toy in the nursery about it.
“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.“
Becoming real is a lifelong process. But we can look for those who are actively pursuing it and invite them into our lives. That’s especially true when it comes to women who are further along in the journey than we are.
My friend and fellow writer Jennifer Watson said:
I would much rather hear from a 50-something, or older, who is killing it and more beautiful than she’s ever been because she knows what really matters in life, not some woman afraid of aging squeezing into skinny jeans who is terrified that she’s no longer relevant and useful. Every day is a battle and we are nothing without each other. Maybe it’s time to stop comparing and join forces.
Who are you letting speak into your life? We need peers, mentors, and encouragers. And in all of those roles, we need people who are willing to say, “I don’t have it all together. But I believe we’re better together.”
Look for these characteristics in “real” people:
- Willing to share their struggles
- Can laugh at themselves
- Committed to facing fear and taking risks
- Get back up when they fall
- Pursue lifelong growth
- Quick to encourage others
- Celebrate the successes of those around them
- Ask for help when they need it
- Avoid gossip, criticism, and condemnation
- Embrace their weaknesses as part of who they are
- Don’t apologize for their strengths but instead use them
- Love freely because they know how to freely be loved
Of course, we’re all works in progress. No one is going to fit this list completely. But if you find someone going in this direction, ask if you can walk beside them. Be open to what you can learn. Honor and respect those with more life experience rather than pretending you know it all. We need each other.
Also remember you can be one of those people for others. If people around you seem to constantly try to be perfect, it may be because in some way you’re giving off the impression they need to be. Or you may be modeling that behavior by expecting perfection from yourself. Sometimes we have to be the first one to say, “I’m struggling with this.” That takes courage, but when I’ve done so, the response usually has been a huge sigh of relief followed by, “Me too.”
There are no perfect people. We’re all mixed-up, in need of grace, learning every day people. You. Me. All of us. The good news is we’re also made new, deeply loved, extraordinary women who have so much to offer the world.