I didn’t always know that I was a zebra. I used to think I was a horse. I was raised on a farm that was full of horses. There were white horses and black horses, and some horses that were black and white. But I was the only one on the farm with stripes.
And I was the only one on the farm who could dance.
Growing up, having stripes didn’t bother me that much. I loved the farm and I loved the horses. I ran and played with them all day. But I did feel different from the others. Why couldn’t I run as fast or jump as high as the other horses could? And why was I the only one who could dance?
One day, I saw the farmer fixing the fence so I trotted over to him and asked why I couldn’t run as fast as the other horses.
The farmer rubbed my mane and smiled. “Because you are not a horse. You are a zebra.”
That scared me when I first heard it. I was a zebra.
I looked at the farmer and my lips started to quiver. “Why can’t I be a horse?”
Then the farmer said something that shocked me. “Why would you want to be a horse?” asked the farmer. “They are everywhere. But a zebra – that is something special,”
Then the farmer leaned in closer and whispered, “See all the horses over there watching us?”
I nodded my head and the farmer continued. “They wish they were you. Zebras are different. You stand out in the herd. You have beautiful stripes they do not have. You are smaller so you can get the best berries at the bottom of the bushes. They see you dance and they can’t dance at all. The horses are so jealous. They wish and wish and wish that they were someone special like you.”
Then the farmer went to his bag and pulled out an apple. “I have one final thing to say to you before I give you this apple. Do you want an apple?”
I nodded yes. Who doesn’t want an apple?
The farmer pointed at the horses and asked “See all those horses over there with their blinders on? Do you know what those blinders mean?”
“That means they can only see straight ahead. You do not have blinders on. You can look all around you. That is probably why you are a better dancer than they are. You are not trapped by viewing the world in only one direction. You are very lucky.”
Then the farmer gave me the apple and went back to fixing the fence.
And after that moment, I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to meet other zebras and share my story with them and to make sure they felt as special, as unique, as rare, and as loved as I did.
And maybe do a dance or two – just because we can.