“Alone in the Flock” by Emi; April 2021

One thing I’ve struggled with since I first started to talk about my ikran experiences five years ago is the solitude. I’ve met others who claim to be Pandoran or even banshees like me but every single time it has been a bittersweet experience that leaves me feeling confused and defeated.

Every couple of months up until around 2019/early 2020 there would be a sudden influx of people questioning or already identifying as Pandoran creatures. It’s always exciting and I can’t wait to ask them about their experiences and find out more about them, but there’s only ever been a handful of outcomes:

1. The person vanishes without a trace.

2. The person stops questioning/identifying as the Pandoran thing.

3. The person tells me they were lying (for whatever personal reason).

4. The person remains online but never brings up the kintype ever again.

I don’t think I’ve ever really known anybody (aside from one person potentially but even then it’s an on and off thing) to stick around. I can live with this at least – I’d rather many fleeting moments with people from my world than have nothing at all. The issue I have stems from what those moments usually involve.

The first issue is that a lot of the time, people don’t seem to know anything about Pandora or their kintype species. I’ve known people who claim to be confident and then get confused and ask about basic traits like ‘do banshees have scales’. I can’t have deep conversations with people because it’s like they only know the surface level stuff.

The second issue comes from the banshees that pop up: I can’t relate to them. Of course there will be aspects I identify with but they’re almost always superficial and basic experiences. Things like wanting to fly, missing Pandora, wanting to screech. Those are great and all, but being a banshee is so much more than those three things and I want to screech about those too. Nobody shares my ‘selfish nest’ urges or my respiratory dysphoria. Nobody understands my habitat needs or social habits. It’s like I’m an outsider within my own species.

The third issue – and the biggest to me – is a combination of the above: banshees who have no idea what banshees are. I have had moments of extreme excitement to finally talk to another banshee that is nearly always immediately crushed when the banshee in question doesn’t understand banshee behaviour. People will describe instincts that don’t follow banshee instincts, they’ll describe anatomical traits that don’t follow banshee anatomy, and so on.

I understand that people can have different interpretations of a fictional species but even here we have written and on-screen ‘canon lore’ – I’ve actually had people try to tell me my information is wrong before when I was directly quoting James Cameron. The guy who made the world the banshees live on. You’re free to disagree with my headcanons or unconfirmed theories (since there is still stuff that isn’t documented but can be inferred) but does that really extend to official lore? Can you change what a banshee is and still claim to be one? (This is a genuine question btw: how far does personal interpretation go? Can we change intrinsic aspects of an animal and still BE the animal?)

So what’s the issue? It’s simple, really: it messes up my confidence in my identity.

When I cannot relate to any banshees that come my way, I start to wonder if it is actually ME who isn’t the real banshee. It especially hurts when I’m told I’m wrong about canon information because, even though I know the information is true, I start to second guess myself and wonder if I have been living a lie these last several years. My mental health disorders don’t assist in this regard whatsoever and its easy for me to be led into a spiral of confusion.

I’ve had instances where I even tried to drop the idea that I’m a banshee. I tried identifying as a macaw with no luck. Same with pterosaurs and dragons: no luck. I questioned everything under the suns but nothing fit except the banshee. Even then, when I cannot find a single reason why the banshee is not fitting, I am brought back to Level 1 because somebody told me ‘I’m a banshee and WE don’t do that’ before vanishing.

I don’t want to be cocky, arrogant, or perceived as a know-it-all. I don’t want to scare people from researching Pandoran fauna or give the impression that you need to be an expert on the subject to even consider it. I’m always here to help those who want a helping wing with their research. I just don’t want to open up to someone so eagerly and so excitedly only to be ghosted, insulted, or alienated. I just want to be with banshees who really do seem to be banshees.

This wasn’t meant to be a rambling mess of screams and squeaks but hey, it is what it is. I’m just feeling nostalgic and low because I’ve been going through all my old files and images to make a timeline of my identity and online community presence – I found so many archived chats with people and loads of old Avatarkin accounts long since abandoned and it reminded me of those old times where I felt like I belonged. I miss it, but I’m hopeful that they’ll return in some way.