What's the Problem with This Thinking?
First of all, the statue of David was not, and never will be, a living, breathing, thinking being. Rather it's a piece of stone that was sculpted to create a static image of David.
More significantly, we live in an era shaped by the insights of Albert Einstein and other scientists who have defined a different reality about the "real world" than the Platonic claims about archetypal forms.
To the ancient Greeks, the universe was made up of perfect spheres orbiting in perfect circles around the earth or the sun. Whether the planets rotated around the earth or the sun was controversial for centuries. In the years since Plato, astronomers have learned more and more about the mind-boggling expanse of our universe.
- In this universe, even space and time are not static.
- In this universe, science and medicine have discovered that the human brain is undergoing constant change every second of every day and night.
- In this universe, the idea that the "real you" is a static entity hidden within you misses the life-changing potential of realizing that you are always undergoing change.
Courage to Grow Up
Growth is about change. When you grow up, you can reach your full height, but you will never outgrow the capacity to learn, to do, and to change your thoughts, your goals, your beliefs, and your desires.
Compare the idea of sculpting a statute from stone with the reality of human life. Every second that you're alive, your brain adapts to what is current reality.
The truth is that the "real you" is not hidden away in some static version of your "true self." The real you is undergoing constant change.
Consider these two sentences:
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.
It takes courage to grow up and become who you choose to be.
Cummings's statement is built on a static vision of your "true self" as a perfect, complete, finished being. Rather than thinking about the courage to become who you are, real courage is about the human capacity to grow up and become who you choose to be.
Whoever you are right now, you are not fixed in some ideal "you." The real you is a living, breathing, thinking being who is always undergoing change.
The idea that you can reach a point where "you become who you really are" means that you have nothing left to learn. Nothing left to experience for the first time. Nothing left to try out. Nothing to grow into. Nothing left to create.
Growing up doesn't mean you will ever reach a point where you are a finished, unchanging, perfect you. If you live with the self-concept of a hidden self hindered by a false self, you miss out on the excitement of dynamic change. Growing up means that you can continue to learn and grow and try. You are also free to change your mind as you outgrow what no longer suits you. You can explore new interests and learn that you have far more capacity than you ever imagined. Real courage is about never giving up on growing up.