What does it mean to be real, anyway?
We all get to choose how we present ourselves to the world, yet sometimes in trying to put our best foot forward, we lose ourselves completely. It’s one thing to be mindful and proactive about how you come across; yet hopefully, your Presence always rings true. Don’t create a façade to cover up inadequacies and fears. Don’t attempt to trick others. Your Presence can be unique and personal, fully authentic, and powerful.
Being “real” means to be YOU. It means to be true to your values and allow your personality to shine through in every interaction.
How you show up in the world will be different than how others do. You are a work of art. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to be a mediocre copy of an exquisite masterpiece. On the other hand, it’s equally as ineffective to say, “I’m an ugly lump of clay—take it or leave it,” and never allow yourself to be shaped and worked into your own exquisite masterpiece. Be the best version of you possible: matchless, priceless, a work of art.
In my living room, I have a shelf full of beautiful gifts and souvenirs from around the world, including a glass Aalto vase my friend Sari brought me from Finland and a hand-painted set of nesting dolls my mom bought in Prague.
My friend Sari is like the Aalto vase she gave me: beautiful in its clarity. Though the glass curves, and looking at it from different angles changes your experience of the vase, you can see right through it. There is no hiding what’s going on inside. Like Sari, who is straightforward and direct, this transparent vase is an exquisite piece of artwork.
I am more like the Czech doll. It is beautifully hand-painted with brilliant colors and detailed flowers. What you see on the outside, however, is just the beginning. When you open up the doll, inside is another! And inside that, another! And another. And another… These smaller dolls are not immediately apparent, yet they all belong. They match. And while they are hidden, they are present and accessible. They make the doll what it is.
My friend and I both want to be the best versions of US that we can be. So we learn from each other, we grow, we push our boundaries. We gain wisdom and experience and apply it. Yet we will always be different. (Thank goodness! The world can only handle one each of us!)
If I tried to paint flowers on the Aalto vase, I would ruin it. If I left all the pieces of the Czech doll open and scattered for transparency’s sake, it would lose its beauty and mystery. Don’t lose sight of your own qualities and try to copy someone else’s. Appreciate and celebrate the fact that no one else can be you.
Some care, though, needs to go into maintaining and beautifying your treasures—both the ones that sit on the shelf and those that lie inside you. If I let my vase and doll get dinged up and scratched, never dust them, or box them up and leave them in the attic, I diminish them. Part of being true to yourself means enriching yourself, so you can be the biggest, best, boldest version of you.
Be willing to uncover yourself. (Don’t worry; I’m not talking about doing a striptease, ha.) Take down the barricades you’ve raised. Sometimes we hide ourselves behind a false front. Sometimes we hide behind bad habits and ineffective behaviors, all the while claiming that’s what makes us genuine. Being authentic takes a lot more vulnerability and courage than claiming a less-than-awesome identity. Being real means being honest about your marvelousness and sharing it, as well as being honest about your flaws and working hard to overcome them.
Be real. Be you. But always strive to be the BEST version of you there is.