What’s the Difference Between Flights of Fancy and Imagination Being Real?
I’ve seen this line of questioning come up more than once in the therian and Otherkin communities and without fail, people always answer that “only you can know for sure what you are”. This is absolutely true, but monumentally unhelpful when it comes to trying to figure out whether your imagination is running away with you or if what you’re experiencing is actually real.
I realize there is no way to prove without a doubt whether or not therianthropy and Otherkin are real. That’s the ultimate downside to this phenomenon. However, I myself have often wondered how to tell if what I’m experiencing is real or just a flight of imaginary fancy.
And it basically comes down to what you believe. For example if you believe, with all your heart, that you’re an alien species from the planet Voltron, and you’ve done your research to back up your claims to others in the community, then by golly, it’s real to you. Enough so that it affects your everyday life.
This may not actually make it real to the world, however I’m not going to get into that here. Arguing that would be like trying to make the spoon bend in the matrix: is it actually bending or is it just bending in my mind? The point is that it’s bending to you. If you bend the spoon and then go outside and tell all your friends, they can either believe you or not and that’s on them. You cannot force other people to believe your claims, you can only present what you believe in an intelligent manner and then allow those individuals to decide for themselves how credible you and your claims are.
(Whether or not down the road you discover you were wrong about Voltron and it was nothing but an over-excited imagination is beside the point and irrelevant. We all never stop learning after all. And sometimes, we get it wrong. Even folks who’ve been active in a community for years. All signs point to this answer but then later, they change or their ideas change and presto, they no longer agree with their earlier line of thinking. And there’s nothing wrong with that, people can and do make mistakes.)
There comes a point where all the questioning gets redundant and you have to either choose to believe in something so impossible that it’s ridiculous and far-fetched or not. Only an individual, based on their personal experiences and research, can make that decision.
The difference between someone claiming to be something obscure and someone who’s done their homework and come to the same conclusion is huge. The former is usually succumbing to the “this is special and shiny” problem which tends to happen with teens and newbies. Whereas the later has usually gone through various scenarios and still ended with the same conclusion. After the researching and soul-searching has been done, that individual has more credibility than someone who has not, because they have spent time trying to find the correct answers. One has done their research while the other has just jumped on the bandwagon.
But if believing you are something out of a fairy tale does not hamper your everyday life and you’ve done research into what/how/why/etc. and you still come to this conclusion and it makes you happy, then I say, where’s the harm?
So you’ve got to answer the only question which should matter: is it real to you or not? And only you can do that.
But my point in all this is yes, we need to strongly question ourselves and yes, only each of us as individuals can answer what we are inside, but also only an individual can answer whether what they feel is real to them or not. And as far as I’m concerned, if it’s real to them and they present their beliefs in an intelligent and well-researched manner, then it’s real enough for me.
Originally written February 10, 2011