Embracing Your Inner Raccoon (Or: The Problem With Pandas)

Embracing Your Inner Raccoon (Or: The Problem With Pandas)

I love pandas as much as you do. 

They’re adorable. Just look at this little bastard.

A Giant Panda in captivity. Also me at the club after a few drinks.

But be honest with yourself.

Aside from the awws and oos that their derpy demeanours provoke, they’re not really that impressive.

Even if we weren’t destroying their habitats so that there are now less than 2000 left in the wild, pandas aren’t exactly the poster bears of survival:

Can you really argue with me?
This is a GIF so you can’t hear the ferocious sound of the baby panda sneezing.

Still, we love them.

We ignore the sad reality that these animals have become prisoners of their own fate.

For the most part.

Some pandas can be pretty clever. #NotAllPandas via CBC News

In captivity, where we usually see them in GIFs and YouTube videos, panda life is synonymous with a lot of eating, sleeping and repeating the last two things.

It looks like a pretty dope life, aside from the whole “being endangered” thing.

In fact, if you’ve read this far, you’ve probably forgotten that pandas are technically a kind of bear.

It’s hard to believe “panda startled by sneeze” is related to “grizzly that ripped Leonardo Dicaprio’s face off”.

Pandas remind me that destiny is a depressing concept.

Raccoons, on the other hand…

Raccoons—or “trash pandas” as they’re unaffectionately called—are on the other end of the spectrum of survivability. They’re the entrepreneurs of the animal kingdom.

We don’t like them because they’re the very thing that pandas aren’t:

They’re resourceful and relentless.

In fact, raccoons are one of a few animals that constantly force us to adapt to them.

Raccoon vs. Raccoon-Proof Bin. Spoiler alert: Bin wins—but not without a fight.

Raccoons give zero f*cks.

They can get into garbage bins, break into your home, and even open jars (something many humans struggle with).

Plus they’ll eat pretty much anything.

“Cat food? This is raccoon food now! Snee snee snee!”

Your Panda vs. Raccoon Instinct

I think everyone’s got a panda instinct and a raccoon instinct. Kind of like “fight or flight”, but more like “can or can’t”.

When you do something new, something that forces you to learn from scratch, your initial reaction might be, “I can’t do that.” And I think that’s perfectly normal.

When I was learning how to write and no one read my shit, when I was learning how to dance and tripped over my own feet, when I was learning Tae Kwon Do and couldn’t kick over my head, when I was learning how to build my first ecommerce site and it looked like 💩, I remember giving up countless times. I remember thinking these things were beyond me. I remember believing I was a panda.

I’m not afraid to tell you I’ve thrown my hands up and said, “Screw this” a **lot** in my life. Sometimes I really meant it and that was that.

But every time I couldn’t quite commit to the idea of defeat, something else happened: I became okay at those things.

When we’re faced with something so far away from what we’re used to—a new job, an unfamiliar problem, a foreign skill—we sometimes mistake a learning curve for an inability to adapt.

We grossly underestimate our inner raccoons.

Our panda instinct tells us we are what we are because it’s easier than going off-script and trying to be more. But when you fight past that doubt, you draw out your inner raccoon.

And we’ve all got a little raccoon in us—the proof is all the times you’ve been forced to be resourceful:

  • When your back is against the wall
  • When your job is on the line
  • When you need the money
  • When you’re facing a deadline
  • When someone is shoving the end of a broom into the make-shift home you’ve chewed into the ceiling

That’s when we shift our perspective.We shed the panda mindset and adopt the raccoon’s:

  • “I don’t know” becomes “I don’t know yet.”
  • “I can’t do that” becomes “I’ll figure it out.”
  • “Am I allowed to do that?” becomes “Let them stop me.
  • “What if…?” becomes “Screw it.”

Resourcefulness seems like a respectable trait on paper. But it’s messy.

It’s desperate. It’s hungry. It’s ungraceful. It’s obsessive. It’s a shit storm of trial and error. And it can be a bit of an asshole.

It’s sidestepping the red tape—sometimes real and oftentimes imagined—and doing what you need to do, ignoring what the world thinks about it. It’s Googling what you don’t know. It’s drawing on other people as a resource. It’s making time when you don’t have it. It’s trekking through the “grey”.

But above all, it’s sticking with your problems.

None of this guarantees success, but it does ensure that you look everywhere for it—outside of your comfort zone and beyond the cards you’re holding.

Like them or hate them, unlike pandas, raccoons embody our better instincts.

So the next time you feel like you’re being a panda about a problem, take a step back and ask yourself:

“What would a raccoon do?”

The answer is: Whatever it has to.

Note: No pandas were harmed in the writing of this piece. Not even emotionally. Because pandas can’t read. Besides, they’re technically not on the endangered species list anymore, so they’re safe to use as a rhetorical prop here 🐼.

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A 5-step Survival Guide to Twitter (for Facebook Users)


Many assume that Twitter is a passing fad for teenage girls who post incessantly about their boy troubles, mundane drivel about how people “feel” and the kinds of sandwiches they’re eating, or businesses trying to market themselves to young people. They wouldn’t be far off. After all, what value can you possibly pack into 140 characters?
Continue reading “A 5-step Survival Guide to Twitter (for Facebook Users)”

A Lesson Learned from Fainting Goats

I hate goats. And that’s putting it lightly. On trips to the petting zoo, you can find me kneeling next to a goat and whispering every so gently in its ear, “I’ll be seeing you for dinner very soon, Mr. Mutton Curry”.

I can’t stand them; they’re dirty and dopey-looking and attempt to eat just about everything including the hand of an innocent child who was just trying to share a samosa (yes, this was when my goat-hate began). However, my own prejudices aside, I found one particular breed of goat to be very sympathetic. Continue reading “A Lesson Learned from Fainting Goats”

The Suburbanite’s Guide to Living in Downtown Toronto

As far as having pride for your city goes, let’s just say I don’t wear my I<3 T.O shirt and Jays hat every day. I’m just a Mississaugian here for school. But I’ve been here for 3 years now and I can say it was more than just a change of scenery for me. Coming from the copy-and-paste box houses of the suburbs to the eclectic concrete jungle is like being a freshwater fish dumped into the ocean; the first thing you’ll notice is that the shallows run deeper and the currents flow faster. Being a hub city, somewhere where people from the world over stop by to visit for various reasons, you meet many interesting people and experience the kind of nights that make good stories. To the uninitiated it can be intimidating. Thus, I’ve decided to compile a half-serious guide to living in this crazy city based on my own experiences. Here it is:

1. Ditch your car

Trade your car in for a nice bike and a year’s worth of Metro Passes. Driving into the heart of the city is a hectic affair; save yourself the headache of worrying about your car. When you drive down here you’ll also notice that traffic moves like a retarded snail at times, and you run the risk of hitting the many jay-walking pedestrians that litter the streets. Finding a good place to park is the Holy Grail of downtown Toronto. Just get used to walking or taking the TTC. It’s better for the environment anyways.

2. Take up an Instrument Continue reading “The Suburbanite’s Guide to Living in Downtown Toronto”