We’re almost done. People often say (even without knowing what it means): “the journey never ends”. That’s the case: all individuals evolve, they grow, learn, change, develop their own insight on things and come to a deeper understanding of themselves. You’ll never been done with self-exploration. People don’t stay stuck a certain state forever, it’s not different with therianthropy. That means the way you view or interpret your animality will probably evolve, will get subtler. Well… in theory. Most of people stop soulsearching once they find out their “species” and a few labels to cling onto. Perhaps they don’t know what to do then, as nobody can teach them about it. Or they’re caught in the illusion that a name and a few terms are the end of all. That’s not the case: labels are optional, and knowledge matters more. Maybe you’ll get the feeling that finding your animal-self actually was much easier. Perhaps it also is why so few people write about “then”. What comes after is even more personal than the beginning. It’s about cherishing and developing that “you” you found and started understanding. It’s pretty hard to put in words – I would say, pure experience can’t be put in words – and there can be no guidelines for that. Were you searching for a guide on “what to do then” here? You’ll find none. That’s up to you and, fuck, I don’t know how you should proceed because what I or someone else thought and pondered about probably won’t be the same for you as it’s so personal. I can just talk about my own experience.
I would say there are “steps” of discovery, and this one is the most interesting, personal and hardest to put in words. I’m not sure if I can say “steps”; what I mean is that, for myself at least and for many other animal-people, point of views, knowledge and priorities vary along introspection. When people first learn about the T-word and feel they’re a “therian”, what they want is finding out what they are and where they fit in terms of words and people. They research on general knowledge and many need validation. Information on animals, terminology; they look up to others’ words (posts, essays). They don’t know about politics and all that shit, and may lack a critical mind. There is this pressure, from both outside and inside, to settle on something specific and just.. settle as a real, existing animal person. On boards, or on their own. They also don’t have much to say because most of time they’d never thought about their animality much before. This state can last quite a while. Eventually people find some answers.
Then comes the big slap in the face. Oops. Whether it is about species, labels, opinions/behaviors or anything else, a mistake was made somewhere. This is all about trials and errors, and everybody make them. You realize how stupid you’ve been, you got it wrong, you should have known, yadda yadda. Some people go really emo on this. They feel lost, and although at some point I only wanted to encourage them, now I tend to shrug more than anything else. It’s not the end of the world, jeez. You don’t have to post an over-dramatic topic about how you were wrong and how sorry you feel. Really, do yourself a favor: don’t write too much about it. You are under the impression you’ll get it right this time, and it’s strongly possible it’s not the case. That’s life.
Searching for definite answers. After people mistook one big time and felt sorry about it, made their mea culpa and showed to the whole world how worried they were about what others may think of them, they settle on something else thinking this time everything will be fine; in other words they get overly confident. Not only about themselves, but also on how others should soulsearch, what is Wrong or Right, and also what’s going on in the community – because, sure, they learned things since they hang around… but not so, really. This is the age of illusion, the illusion of stability and self-knowledge while they still are inexperienced. I can think of plenty people like that. They may know what they are, and where they stand to some degree, but the perspectives, the priorities differ. And the behavior, the self-confidence; bashing others’, showing the wold how serious and real they are, mimicking more experienced people and misinterpreting them. Some people never get out of this.
Seeking self-knowledge. Phases of self-doubt between illusions of self-knowledge may alternate for a long time. Little by little, after much trial and errors, clearing up of misconceptions, changes in perception and changes in interpretation, … things get better (hopefully). Deeper, subtler, and more stable. Animal people in this state know who and what they are, where they stand, and what they want. What they write about their experiences and discovery is generally a lot more interesting and meaningful than what people in the previous step may have written out of bangwagoning or thinking they knew what they were talking about. I’m not saying that before this people did not make sense at all, but more likely there wasn’t anything really personal and thought-provoking in it. As an example, before, “therians” would tell newcomers about “what therianthropy is not”. Now, more experienced animal people know what being an animal person really is (from their perspective), hence the easiness to write on the subject. They may also lose interest in what is discussed on forums. And now they have a better understanding of their animalself, they can put everything together, ponder over other aspects and how those aspects interact with each other.
Realizations, balance and new perspectives. From this point, people may successively come to different realizations and develop their own perspective on the world that surrounds them – a personal worldview. It’s about global perspectives. Those things vary as we grow, and often animal people may feel they do not gain anymore from reading forums, and they leave. This can happen in previous steps as well. Some people never joined. Some people also stop having any interest in introspecting at that point. Forums are about theories and terminology, and when you’ve reached a certain point in your life you tend to favour experiencing and being, not theorizing. You might write about your experiences, but you may also very well just be satisfied in understanding what you experience and/or being without necessarily sharing, because sharing means translating a vivid, unique experience into a common language, and you may lose something in the process. And people, especially newcomers, may not understand a word of it. When things become too personal, there is no language for them.
I’ve been tired of writing such sort of guides. I tried to not make it very personal to stay neutral, but not only this style doesn’t suit me, I also am not interested in “helpful” essays anymore. I’m just archiving this thing to go on to my own way. I want to focus on other things now, I’ve been wanting to do so for so long. This is a change in priorities. I am satisfied about writing about my experience from time to time and reading from others’ experience, others who have walked their path for a little while too. I know nobody can fully understand what I personally am going through, just like I can’t know what exactly they’re going through. I have to stay humble and try to be articulate. Some people know enough on themselves, animality and life in general to get what I mean, and that’s fine enough for me.
I think I summed up what can be summed up. Your actual experience of the animal, your personal growth, nobody can do anything about it instead of you. Take what makes sense to you, learn what can be learned, and be patient as evolving takes time and sometimes pain (and joy). I’ll stop there as I can’t write about the personal, specific experiences that are ahead of you. Just keep walking.