Let me tell you the story of a rabbit called Rabbit.
It was a sunny spring day, and Rabbit was outside, playing with other young rabbits. He was still growing up and discovering the world at this point.
All of a sudden, one of the big grown-up rabbits overlooking the children shrieked in alarm.
“Wolves! Wolves! Run for your lives!”
The little rabbits panicked, started running every which way and bumping into each other, but eventually got organized and sped away into the depths of the forest. Except for Rabbit. He decided to stay.
“Why should I run from wolves?” he reasoned. “I want to be strong and feared like them. Instead of running, I will pretend to be a wolf and join them.”
So he waited. The leader of the wolf pack ran up to him… and stopped. He looked at Rabbit in confusion.
“Shouldn’t you be running away?”
“Why should I run?” Replied Rabbit. “I’m a wolf. Other animals run away from me.“
The wolf leader tilted his head and eyed him suspiciously. “You don’t look like a wolf to me.”
“Nope, I’m definitely a wolf.”
“Alright,” said the wolf leader as the rest of the pack caught up. (He was the leader because of his speed and strength, not because of his intelligence.) “Hey everyone, this little fella here will be joining our pack. What’s your name?”
“My name is Rabb… uh… Robbit. Yeah, Robbit.”
“Alright! Welcome to the pack. Let’s see if we can catch up with those rabbits that were here a few moments ago, I’m getting hungry.”
And that’s how Rabbit joined the wolf pack.
He lived with them for many months. He learned to growl, and track prey, and act all tough and serious to be respected by the wolves.
Too many interesting things happened to tell here, but one notable story from those months I want to share is the day when Rabbit first ate meat.
The wolf pack had just finished a big hunt for deer, with huge success. They were distributing the prey, and one of the older wolves tore off a big chunk of deer thigh and tossed it to Rabbit.
“Hey, Robbit! Have some of this. You deserve it, you did really well during the hunt, chasing the deer towards us.”
“Uh…” hesitated Rabbit. “Eat some of this?”
“Sure. Prime deer thigh. What kind of a wolf are you if you don’t like deer?”
“The biggest and baddest wolf around!” exclaimed Rabbit, taking a large bite of raw deer meat.
“That’s more like it! How do you like it?”
“It’s… ungh… hrrp… delicious!” said Rabbit, trying to keep the chunk of meat down and focusing all his energy on not throwing up.
“Right on!” said the wolf, and walked off to chat with someone else. Rabbit quickly ran behind some bushes and threw up the meat.
From that day on, he always pretended to eat the meat they gave him, while secretly dragging most of it away, and throwing up the little bit he was forced to eat while others were watching. He once tried nibbling grass in front of the others, but was laughed at, and since then always ate secretly while the others slept.
Overall, Rabbit mostly liked his time with the wolves. He was feared and respected by most animals, and that’s what he wanted, after all. Right? Right??
But deep inside, he didn’t feel that great. The continuous pretence was tiring him out. He was wondering if the other wolves also often felt anxious and vaguely dissatisfied with life, but he never brought it up with any of them for fear of appearing weak.
Then, one day, while scouting the area for prey, Rabbit came across a couple of little creatures that looked remarkably like himself.
They were hopping around, and playing in the grass, cuddling each other and chasing each other around. In his shock, Rabbit completely forgot to growl and look fearsome. He just stood there, enchanted, until one of the playing rabbits noticed him.
“Hi there! Want to join us?”
Rabbit was taken by surprise, and automatically mumbled “Uh… yeah. Sure.”
And he did join them.
And as he hopped around and played with them, it felt like coming home. Here, everybody was doing exactly what he’d always been getting weird urges to do but suppressed because he wouldn’t fit in with the wolves. He even saw a few of the rabbits nibbling some grass, in plain view of everyone.
He tried eating some himself, gingerly at first. He kept glancing around, but nobody laughed at him. Nobody called him a “sissy grass-eater.” If they noticed him at all, they didn’t pay him any attention, like eating grass was the most natural thing in the world.
And Rabbit realized that for all his wanting to be feared and respected like a wolf, he was still just a rabbit. And what really made him happy was doing all those little things that rabbits do.
He never went back to the wolf pack. He stayed with the rabbits, and lived the rest of his life content and happy.
What’s the lesson from Rabbit’s story?
Far too often, I see people who change who they are, or pretend to be someone they’re not, just to impress other people and be liked.
The thing is, if you need to change who you are to fit around certain people… they’re probably not the right people for you anyway.
Instead, by being yourself, you will naturally attract just the sort of people who will love hanging out with you. And, in turn, you will love hanging out with them!
The right kind of people – those you will love hanging out with – will love you not despite your strange habits and quirks, but because of them. As Ali Luke puts it:
You are not a dress shirt that needs every wrinkle ruthlessly ironed out. You are a warm, snuggly sweater, loved not in spite of but because of your loose threads, your crumpled bits, your huggable qualities.
Forget about impressing others. Just be yourself. The most awesome people (by your personal definition of “awesome”) will be attracted to exactly that.