Addendum: Rabbits and Further Thoughts
This addendum was one that I planned to write since “Voluntary, Involuntary, and Nonhuman Identity”- actually, the original idea for this post came before “Voluntary, Involuntary”, and I wrote that post because I felt that it should come first.
Well! I guess waiting was a good idea, because my ideas for this piece have changed a lot.
I was originally going to write about my feelings regarding a “third” ‘type- third being in quotes because, while it had been present for ~5-6 years, I was always hesitant to consider it one of my alterhuman identities. However, that… thing, that version of the identity, no longer exists. Something new stands in its place. Something that I can confidently embrace as a ‘type.
The old identity was... just confusing in general, because it was heavily intertwined with mental-illness-stuff. This new identity is more obviously voluntary- I have knowingly taken a framework and chosen to apply it to my own life. It still involves my mental quirks, but to a less “extreme” extent, and it sheds the uncomfortable themes that were present in the old identity. It is an explanation for something that I’ve experienced my whole life- an explanation I made up, but fuck it, it works!
I call this new identity “Lucky Rabbit” (as in, I am a lucky rabbit) for sake of ease. Rabbit is invoked here as more of an archetype or symbol, as I wrote on the Postfurry Embassy Discord in December:
“in general, I believe I'm a pretty lucky person [...] I've associated this luck with a part of myself that I don't like, something I've been trying to change or get rid of for a long time. But! recently I think I found a good way to redirect the weird thoughts, and then by chance landed on rabbits as a symbol for it, which works great bc rabbits are considered signs of good fortune and prosperity. in the past I symbolized this part of myself as a cheetah, but rabbits are much softer & I would like to be soft.”
So, I have a third ‘type that I haven’t officially mentioned before. It’s voluntary, and fictional. I’m a rabbit, but not like that (most of the time).
Keeping in line with the way I described my tiger/spirit-self and my alien-self in "Voluntary, Involuntary", I will say that my rabbit-self also comes from an involuntary “foundation” with voluntary features built around it. But rabbit is voluntary to the point where I'm fine with calling it a coping/otherlink. The line between what I did and didn't choose is pretty solidly drawn here. Comparing it to alien: Both are personas of sorts, alien/phils is my fursona species, but I feel like my choices for what my alien-self could be were much more limited. Alien is more specialized. For rabbit, the themes surrounding it are way more common both in and out of fiction. It’s true that I still had to wait for the right “aha!” moment, but I feel that I had/have a lot of potential freedom. (Maybe the fact that I did have to wait for that moment, instead of being inspired by anything else, is important? Who knows.)
Regardless, I do not believe that being a lucky rabbit is the actual reason for why I experience what I do. But it helps. Is that not enough, when the real reason could be unrecoverable, nonexistent, or dangerous for me to chase after?
One reason I’m writing this addendum is so that I can introduce this new identity. The other reason is because I would like to expand my thoughts on the voluntary vs. involuntary divide.
I’ve realized that my gripe is not really with labeling things as either voluntary or involuntary, after all these past two entries have been me doing just that. My gripe is with how important that division is. Don’t get me wrong. It’s important to me that my rabbit-self is specifically a voluntary identity, and differences in experiences between voluntary/involuntary/quoiluntary identities are important, but I don’t want that to define my community experience. I like being introspective about this stuff, but there are a lot of times where I just say “I am a forest spirit” because I am a forest spirit. I feel like our similarities are more numerous than our differences.
It’s like convergent evolution. Bird wings, bat wings, insect wings: they all allow for flight.
I wish that I didn’t feel “fake” in otherkin spaces even though I don't identify as otherkin. Especially since, in some instances, I can’t tell how voluntary an identity is. Historically, whether an identity was a choice or not didn’t seem to matter quite so much. Nor did purposefully strengthening one's connection to an identity. Marron’s “The History of Voluntary Identities, and Where We Can Go Now” on Alt-H touches on this, and is in general a great article on the subject as a whole, for those who want to read further. I feel that things have become black-and-white in recent years, in ways that they weren't in the past- at least not for the majority. Ideally, I would like to return to a place where nonhuman/fictional/alterhuman identities are mutually celebrated regardless of how much choice went into them, while those who take pride in their identity specifically being involuntary or otherwise are respected as well.