Guest post: Sliding scales

Guest post: Sliding scales

Do you want to be unique? Do you want to feel special? Do you want to be recognized as being different from everybody else?

Do you want to be a unicorn?

Fenek has a hard time waiting for more pets

Do you ever feel like there is nobody out there who is like you? Do you ever feel so different that you don’t seem to belong anywhere? Do you bemoan the fact that, no matter where you are or with whom, you never quite fit in?

Good news! You can be special, yet fit in. You can belong everywhere, yet stand alone. You don’t have to be as rare as a unicorn to be celebrated. Besides, with a world population that is pushing 8 billion, no matter how extra super duper unique you are (and, believe me, you are VERY super duper ultra mega special), if you are one in a million, there are almost 8,000 people in the world who are exactly like you. The odds of finding them, however, are rather small. But, that’s not the heart of the matter.

For every human attribute, there is a range: all to nothing, dark to light, never to always. There are GAJILLIONS of human attributes. There are BAZILLIONS of points within the extremes of every range of these attributes. Is your hair brown? Well, how brown is it? Is it very light brown, but not quite blonde? Is it so dark brown that it is almost, but not quite black? What about your eyes? Are they blue? If they are blue, are they a pale, icy blue or a deep sea blue?

That’s probably a sufficient number of examples to make my point.

Fabulous Faye outshines all unicorns


Along these manifold sliding scales, there are so many variations that we can be surrounded by people who are, at once, exactly like us and completely different from us.

The problem is, we don’t always get accurate or remotely complete pictures of the people around us. We meet each other in certain contexts — during the work day, at the local coffee shop, while performing volunteer duties — and don’t always get to see past the relatively one-dimensional views we have of each other.

If you find that a group conversation is focused on a topic that doesn’t resonate with you, and to which you don’t feel able to contribute, you might feel like you don’t belong. You might walk away. You might go find the one kitty at the party and make a furry friend instead of sticking around until the conversation drifts into realms that will resonate with you.

Conversations drift. It is often awkward to wait.

When Fenek was introduced to the Lounge recently, I seriously doubt that he questioned his very unique specialness, which is vast. It is similarly unlikely that Fenek failed to feel a sense of belonging, or had to wait to feel accepted. I’m not sure this extraordinarily friendly feline could ever feel anything short of being wanted, adored, and fitting in with everyone, everywhere, all the time.

When Elliot was relocated from the Source of All the Kittens (aka the Special Needs Suite) to Suite B, I don’t think he worried about the color of his fur, his comparative size, how his face is shaped vs, say, Faye’s or Thurman’s. Elliot is as sure of his special cat-ness as he is sure of being accepted into the fold, given time and persistence in seeking a playmate.

Elliot emulates Faye, but he’s still his own cat

On a regular basis, the cats of Tabby’s Place are shifted around for reasons beyond their control, sometimes to meet their specific needs, and always with a view to what is best for the entire population (this is their whole world, after all). Eventually, once the stresses subside and crates are opened, each cat finds a way to make friends with some suite-mates while giving others a broad berth. It’s a negotiation that is repeated over time even with long-term suite-mates as situations change and other cats are introduced or adopted.

Not one of the cats is troubled by doubts about fitting in. Not one of the cats gives a fig (cats don’t generally enjoy figs anyway) about the first impression they make on the other cats. All of the cats are unique. All of the cats are uniquely cat, and they are all uniquely good with that. The sliding scales* just don’t matter.

What matters is that every cat is a unicorn, which makes them as much alike as they are different from each other. Each one of you is a unicorn. Me, too.

So, we’re all different and unique and special, and we are all exactly the same.

Best part? We all have a special space — virtual or physical — at Tabby’s Place.

*Not unless it’s the weight scale, accompanied by a person who might deem it necessary to alter their rations of mealtime mush.

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