Wild Ideas FAQ
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Aren't a lot of these people just teenagers in search of an identity, or a way of rationalizing feeling "different"?
In some cases, undoubtedly. But the same can be said for just about any subculture. People in that stage of life can latch on to almost anything in their search for self-definition: religions, political philosophies, musical subcultures, fandoms, and many other things.
But over time, they will grow out of those things to which they lack a sincere connection, and the interests they do retain as they move into adulthood will generally be things that are truly important to them.
This is not to say, by the way, that every teenager drawn to therianthropy (or paganism, or anything else) is just going through a phase or trying to be different. Adolescents vary considerably in their degree of maturity and self-knowledge, and some have a better handle on who they are than other people may have by 30. But overall, there does tend to be a bit more "trying on" of different identities in the teens and early 20s than at other points in life.
I also find that underlying this question and others like it is an assumption that one can't genuinely be different - that any sense of being unlike the norm is transitory and will fade as one grows up, in favour of a sense of being "just like everyone else". I myself am currently over 40, and have not yet hit that magical just-like-everyone-else stage, and sincerely hope I never will.
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