We are mistaken if we believe that our consciousness is fully awakened at the first moment after birth. Perhaps because we don’t know how to imagine any other living state, it may seem to us that birth is a decisive instant, before which there is nothing and after which we are fully ourselves. Contrary to that assumption, consciousness is an evolving condition of being.
One of my favorite childhood stories is The Velveteen Rabbit, a parable of just how this evolution may occur. The Velveteen Rabbit, once a beloved and shiny stuffed bunny, was loved deeply by The Boy, who saw him as real. All of the wear and tear from allowing himself to be vulnerable stripped the rabbit both of his sheen and his un-realness. When the boy finally “moves on” as children (and all people) can do sometimes, the Rabbit was heartbroken, feeling rejected and diminished. Despondent, after crying his first real tear, a beautiful fairy came to make him into a Real Rabbit, allowing him to hop, skip, and jump with other rabbits (who also had once been discarded). The Velveteen Rabbit could never have enjoyed the beauty of being Real had he not been “broken open” by the experience of vulnerability.
To me, the moral of this story is that we become Real through the process of connection. The story is a beautiful metaphor for how our flaws and apparent imperfections can be transformed when they are integrated and fully accepted. We become more “Real” (authentic) when we are open and ‘vulnerable’ (able to be hurt), when we allow ourselves to be deeply affected by someone. But as the Skin Horse wisely tells the little rabbit in the story, sometimes becoming Real hurts.
Becoming who we are is a journey in which we must come to terms with our tattered fur and threadbare paws. This is a life-long process of learning to be comfortable in our own skin. We live fully only to the extent that we embody authenticity and aliveness. This is how we become Who We Are.
 By Margery Williams