Catia Hernandez Holm Speaker Author The Courage to Become TEDx.jpg
The Velveteen Rabbit

Originally published on 7-11-13

Yesterday afternoon I walked up to the register at work and there she was in all her glory and there I was in all my plainness. She and I had once been friends but eventually the friendship strained and like often happens, life took us in different directions. There was no wall to cower behind and no rock to hide under.

There I stood, all 63 inches of me. I was dressed in rolled up boyfriend jeans, borrowed summer flats, a tattered Old Navy tank top, my hair lazily pulled into a pony tail, my boobs were hanging a little lower to the ground because I was wearing a strapless bra a few sizes too big (let’s face it, after running a marathon, they just never came back), I had not a lick of make up on and not even the dullest sparkle. I was as raw as I could be.

She was adorned with expensive shiny jewelry, stood what seemed a foot taller than me, she had her make up perfectly applied and her hair perfectly coiffed and she looked as beautiful as ever. I felt like we were in the boxing ring. She was packing a mean punch and I was out of my league.

My heart started to race and my ego started to squirm, it was so uncomfortable. All I could think was, “She’s so tall and beautiful, and I’m so short and inferior.” I was intimidated by her appearance. We stood there making small talk; all the while I was analyzing her accessories and comparing them to the lack of mine.

My thoughts were shallow in the worst way, I know.  I felt like a frumpy commoner standing in the shadow of this glamazon.

Who knows what she was thinking? Maybe she was thinking, “Woah, Catia really stopped caring about her appearance,” or maybe she thought, “Casual Wednesday!” Or maybe she had the audacity to think about her own life, “I’ve got to make sure to pick up bread before I pick up the kids from day care.”

As she drove off in her cool car (my dream car), I pushed the emergency button.

My first move was to call my Sis who turns out couldn’t give me much solace as she was at work, I was pouty but I understood. Then I dialed my cousin to confess my moment of total intimidation. Then I called my boyfriend. No one answered. Rats!

I resolved I’d have to push through it myself, and I called on the following notion:

If you are walking in God’s purpose you should not be intimidated by anything or anyone else. Way easier said than done.

So I had a chat with myself.

Am I walking in God’s purpose? Yes. I am good to people, I love and nurture those around me, I offer kindness and love at the same rate that Dancing With The Stars offers golden spray tans. I am loved and I love deeply in return. I offer more good to the world than bad. I am pleased with the person I am.

For a solid fifteen minutes I sat with the awkward feelings, then went about my business at work and about an hour later, I had talked myself through the embarrassment. And then, it was over and I had a good laugh.

The Band-Aid solution would be to constantly be Stepford ready, but it would be a superficial fix and would not address my insecurities and self-esteem.

Every day, I stand in front of a mirror my eyes wander to the parts of my body that need the most help.  I’m 5’3 and have always yearned to be taller, fat collects in my belly, I have cellulite, and my nose seems to be more pronounced than ever, I have pockets of fat on my inner thighs that have proven to be more indestructible than Kryptonite and …. -- as soon as I get on roll like that I try catch mind and I begin to be kind and gentle on myself and be grateful for all my blessings.

I stand back and say, I am thankful for having two arms to bear hug my friends with and two healthy legs to run marathons with and teeth to eat vanilla birthday cake with and a heart that has the capacity to love something in just about everyone and that my heart has the capacity to feel love.

Quite often my boyfriend tells me he fell in love with me because I am kind and thoughtful. After the 789th time it finally sank in and I relief washed over me! I don’t have to be Real Housewives of Beverly Hills dressed to be loved, I can just be me, and I can be real.  

As happens, time will take its toll and our faces will change our skin will soften and our toes will curl. Our body will change; fashions and trends will fade away and so will suit we wear.  As our outside fades our intentions, hearts and goodness will remain real.

“Real isn't how you are made. It’s a thing that happens to you. It doesn't happen all at once. 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.”  - Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

If we can wrap our minds around the notion that what is real and significant is the way we treat people and the way we love, then I think we’d all breathe a little easier and our egos wouldn’t be so easily threatened.

Razzle dazzle is all well and good; in fact, I am a big proponent of it! I love nothing more than gold bangles and a cute summer dress and really high heels. I think we should all be comfortable being ourselves no matter where we fall on the glitz and glamour spectrum. We should be proud of who we are on casual Wednesdays and be proud of who we are on date night Fridays. I believe in a safe space for all of us, where we can all be our authentic selves with confidence and pride and be real. 

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