Who am I anyway? This is a question I asked myself a few times a day during my time at the Oshkosh Humane Society. Please don’t misunderstand my question for pessimism, as that was never the intention. Conversely, the optimist in me wanted to be better. I tried and tried (perhaps too hard) to win over my visitors so they would take me home.
More often than not, they would opt for a younger (or cuter or bigger or smaller) dog and I would be left wondering what I could do differently. What could I do to stand out in the crowd?
I knocked down a little girl so I could lick her face – partially because I loved her at first sight and partially because she smelled like ice cream. That didn’t work. I demonstrated my vertical jumping skills for a young man because he looked athletic and I thought he’d be impressed. That didn’t work. I did every trick I could think of when Katie (my favorite humane society caregiver) told me to sit because I wanted to impress a young couple. Some would see this as overachieving. The young couple I was trying to impress used the word stupid.
But I kept my chin up. I knew my time would come. I just had to figure out who I was before I could find my forever people. I think it is the same way with people who are looking for their person. You need to know who you are before you can share that unique personality with another person. And (let me tell you) you certainly don’t answer life’s most challenging questions of identity by trying too hard. You answer them by letting go. By not trying, but instead by being. By being yourself.
As soon as I realized and employed this philosophy, I was adopted. Sure, it was by the wrong family at first (the one with all the other animals where who I was still wasn’t clearly apparent to any of us). But it worked. I let myself be myself and they let me in – the real me, not the me trying to be something I’m not. It’s not my fault they didn’t recognize everything the real me had to offer.
And I’m glad they didn’t. Because I knew right away that my forever people did. Three years ago today I met them for the first time. My people. It was a hot and sticky day and I knew it in a moment. We went outside and mom kneeled down and I put my paws on her knees. She pet me and I knew she was the one. They immediately saw me for me and loved me for it. Joy. From the ground up, it happened that day.
Who am I? There is no longer a question in my mind. American writer and inspirational speaker Esther Hicks says it best. “You are joy, looking for a way to express. It’s not just that your purpose is joy, it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing energy – frolicking and eager. That is who you are.”