A lot of people have said that therians often have very similar pasts as a child, so I thought this might be helpful to some of the newbies out there.
This story I'm writing about my experiences for how I discovered my therian types is by no way a requirement list for how your life should have gone in order to say that you’re therian. This is just what I experienced and I know that there are a lot of people who are looking to see if therianthropy is where they fit. I hope this helps those of you who are searching!
I'll start out I suppose with a bit of history, then go to current events.
I had a typical therian childhood, except that I never knew what therianthropy was.
I did all the things you might expect a young therian to do. From barking and howling, to running like a dog on all fours etc.
As I grew up, I was raised in a wholly human society and never knew what a therian was, so I just accepted that I just liked dogs too much apparently.
I went to a school in which you got in trouble for swearing and you had to wear uniforms... so to give you an idea of the environment I grew up in... So, of course I got jeers from people, odd looks, sardonic comments or the occasional confusing statement like: "Do you remember when you were completely convinced you were a dog?" And, of course I'd have to reply "What? No I didn't... I told you before that was something someone else said! I never thought I was a dog... I mean seriously, look at me I'm obviously not a dog." As a youngster I was referring to physically shifting as a way to refute their statement because I didn't know any better. (Here is the link to the views Therian-Guide.com has towards physical shifting if you’re curious: http://therian-guide.com/index.php/5-shifting.html
Due to growing up in ignorance to therianthropy I never really comprehended what the remarks and jokes from other people really meant. Back then I just laughed it off and shook my head, or to placate them and get them to stop asking, I'd bark, howl or whine. They'd then stare at me with wide eyes and all the people in the vicinity would gather around and exclaim, "Whoaaa! Do it again!" "What- how do you do that?!" "She sounds like a real dog!!!" and of course by that point it had grown from just placating one person’s curiosity, to apparently being put on a stage to a giant group of students.
My whole life, I just figured that I was some kind of "animal whisperer" or something. To use the nickname the others gave me, it would sound more like "Dog Freak" or something of the like. Really mean guys would run up to show me pictures of dead dogs, or tell me stories of how they read a story of coyotes that were tortured until they died, just to see my reaction. I eventually learnt that responding to their stories only made them want to tell the awful stories more... so I developed my own (unfortunate, and honestly painful) way of dealing with their death story teasing. I watched how the other males around me reacted to those stories and then decided the most effective way to get them to stop telling me these stories would be to act like them.
So, the next story I got, I pretended that it was really interesting. I can still describe to you what he looked like, what his name is and the gleeful look in his eyes as he ran up to me with his newest story, hoping to terrify me or make me sad or mad... Afterwards... I watched with a new light in my own eyes as the light in his own disappeared. I replied to him like the horrible death he described was the most fascinating thing in the world…
After that point, I learned that those kinds of reactions worked, and so I did them over and over until they stopped telling me stories.
As a disclaimer, I would say that while acting like the other people definitely made them stop teasing me, it was painful to do so and in the process I pretty much lost who I really was for a very long time. Please be careful about how much you pretend to be someone you’re not… but also be aware that sometimes therian tendencies do need to be subdued. Just because you think everyone should accept you for who you are doesn’t warrant irrational choices or actions that are demonstrated for the sole reason of showing off. That’s not what therianthropy is for. We don’t live to show off and be “cooler” than everyone else. You live in a human society and there are times when you need to be professional. We all do our best to understand the world we live in so that we can do it more effectively. Not necessarily the other way around, although the times when other people understand us are very special. Don’t forget that we are human too. Sometimes that seems hard to remember because of how often we talk about animal experiences here, but who you are as a person matters so much. Never forget that.
As I grew older I found myself far more removed from the community of students. Not because I still acted like an animal, although at times I did for sure... but I'd gotten very good at masking them, but my heart just did not belong with the rest of them. I never had an easy time relating to the other students.
> This is largely due to my personality, which is of course nature and nurture related. If you’re curious how personalities (specifically referring to the MBTI types) play into your childhood and possibly how you experience your therian type try using this test to figure it out. http://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test
When you’ve finished you’ll be brought to a page with four letters and some bars telling you what degree you are in for those letters. If they don’t make sense, just click the red button further down the page (I believe it says something like Read More) and it will bring you to a section where there are many more pages you can look at. It will give you so much information you’ll be amazed. This may even help you to understand how not only you
react to your world, but may also give you some hints as to how you react to things as a therian.
Skipping ahead a few years, since I had no idea what therians were as a child, I never really pursued attempting to figure out what kind of dog I was.
A few years later I asked my friends what kind of animals I reminded them of. One said a dog, because she'd known me the longest and she never really was much of a deep thinker. The other, who was in fact a very deep thinker (and I still keep in touch with her) disagreed. She tilted her head back and forth observing me, remembering my past and how I acted before she stated very slowly. "I personally... I agree with the dog of some kind. Although I don't think you'd be domesticated. You're more different than that. In addition... you have feline in you."
I stared at her in shock refusing to admit it for a while because I'd always been taught that dogs don't like cats, so how on earth could I remind her of both a dog and a cat?
"What kind of cat?" I asked thoroughly confused.
"I don't know... but so much about you is some kind of feline. You are obviously canine of some sort, but there's also... there's also quite a bit feline as well... In my personal opinion."
Jump ahead to living at a university and starting school. A member in one of my classes is one of those people that just sit down, begin a conversation with you and are instantly fascinated with you. At one point, I asked her if she had a spirit animal. She was confused as to what I meant by that so I described it to her in the basics "You know, like, if you could be any animal, what animals do you fit with?"
She didn't know but attempted to answer with personal interest to a certain kind of animal. I later asked another person this same question and was suddenly inspired to look up "spirit animal" online. I'm not entirely sure how, but I wound up here at Therian-Guide.com. I began reading through the introductory pages to Therianthropy and decided rather quickly that I'm a purely psychological therian, but so much else about what I was reading made sense all of a sudden.
I'll admit I was a bit sceptical at first. Like... is this real? Do people really
believe this stuff? For some reason though, I was drawn to make an account, just to see what else the site had to offer. I was naturally curious.
The more I read the more I was actually rather impressed with what was said and I began to think about my own life in the context of all that it was saying and it just started this giant check list of: ‘I DO THAT TOO!’ and ‘So that's why I did that...’ and, ‘No way! I've done that since I could even comprehend
what animals were…’. Then finally I just sat there and all these memories from my childhood, I'd thought had long been forgotten, were being reeled in now that they’d been hooked. I was pulling them up, analysing each one, trying to understand what had happened and what was going on in my mind and finally I just... *blinks* I'm home... I'm not alone! My life suddenly makes SO MUCH MORE SENSE!
A few days later, someone inspired me to keep thinking through my shifts and really make sure I'd understood all of what I did. Then a haunting thought came back to me from years ago. "I don't know... but so much about you is some kind of feline. You are obviously canine of some sort, but there's also... there's also quite a bit feline as well... In my personal opinion."
I was still troubled by this, but now that I'd discovered I was in fact a therian, it felt irresponsible and unhealthy for me to not explore the option at least. So I did my research. Every time I looked at small house-cat sized cats it just... it didn't fit. So, I looked into big cats and deeply into my shifts. I had heard my friend say so many years ago there was feline in me, yet I continued to live in a bit of denial because I didn't see how in the world that could be possible. To have two "spirit animals" (as I termed it when I was too young to know better) that were such opposites? Preposterous!... oorrrr not... The more and more I looked into it, I then remembered that for many years, while I still acted like a dog in my youth, my favourite animal for many years was a cheetah. This again sparked me to think, how odd
. The more I explored the "shifts" I could remember, and now identify of my past the more I began to see that my young insightful friend had not been so crazy after all.
This goes to serve though as proof that your favourite animal does not always end up being what your theriotype is, so be cautious of personal bias. No theriotype is any better than another. We’re all amazing and unique. Be happy with whatever type you know you are, not what others say would be cool or what you formed an affinity for as a child. Really take the time to understand.
Originally, I thought that I was a big cat, but nothing as large as a lion, so I looked into the snow leopard and clouded leopard. They were smaller, almost the size of a domestic dog.... maybe that was it? I thought on it for a while and paid more attention to my shifts, but every time I came back to my room and looked back at the clouded leopard (which I'd chosen above the snow leopard)... it also just didn't fit. What was wrong? It seemed to be the right size... but, waiiiiiit! The wheels started to turn and I began to analyse the situation a bit more clearly.
Mackenzy Valley wolves (aka: North-western, Alaskan Timber, Canadian Timber, & Northern Timber wolves) are one of the largest wolf breeds.
right click and select "Open In New Tab" to see and zoom in on image
The size of the animal I felt fit the feline description was a bit shorter than the wolf... As I had a misconstrued perception of how large my wolf form really was, I interpreted this to be a smaller big cat like the clouded leopard. I began searching bigger cats and already knew that I could eliminate the lion and tiger. There was no way I was a lion or tiger. Remembering cheetahs were my favourite as a child I looked into it, but denied it as my secondary shift very quickly. Nothing about it really fit. I was left with puma(cougar), jaguar and leopard.
I was originally drawn to the puma, but something about the way it was shaped didn't quite fit either. You know that feeling when you finally see your type and you're just like YES. That's it!!!
I wasn't getting that...
My two next best options then were the jaguar or the leopard.
I looked at jaguar first and then the leopard. I didn't know really which one fit better because they're both around the same size and both have very similar attributes. I felt at a bit of a loss, but then I found a list of subspecies and hoped that it would help.
I explored the jaguar and kept a few in mind, but then I travelled into a list of leopard subspecies and I looked through the photos and read the brief descriptions expecting to have to do a very complicated compare and contrast between the leopard subspecies and the jaguar subspecies...
but then I saw this:
It's a Javan leopard, and it just-... It was so near perfect I felt so suddenly excited like that overwhelming feeling of YES THAT'S IT! but it wasn't quite... There was just something missing. I went on a nearly frantic search. What on earth was missing?
As soon as I searched their recessive allele tendency I then just froze and it finally worked. So, there it was. After all this time of dedicated searching and introspection. There it was.
Melanistic Javan Leopard.
Of course, I've heard many people say that they go through times of worry and then realising they were wrong about a shift type, sometimes years later, and that’s okay. Nothing is wrong with a bit of confusion, nervousness, and doubt at times.
Another point I think is important to mention is that if you find out you’re not therian… there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Maybe you’re animal hearted? Neither animal-hearted nor therianthropy is greater or “better” than the other. We’re simply different factions. In reality, we all love animals and that’s the amazing part. None of us is any better than the other and no therio-type is more special or grand than the other.
Pursue understanding. There are so many resources here for you. Keep reading. For me even, I decided to join TG because the topics interested me, but I wanted to learn more. I originally just intended to kind of keep under the radar and just learn as I go, but so many took me under their wing to guide me and now I have friends here and teachers, mentors and support. Therian-Guide is a site dedicated to educating those who are curious and creating a comfortable and safe place to see that you’re not the only one. If you’re curious about therianthropy at all, come talk to one of us. We’re always open to answering questions. I promise, you’re not the only one who has wondered about the question you have. Don’t feel shy to ask. That’s why TG is here. Have fun with all it has to offer and learn as you go.