- Relevant Communities:
A recap, with definitions from from @Shiro 's Lexicon, before I begin:
Awakening - The term “awakening” refers to the process of discovering that you are otherkin and/or therian and the process of discovering your kintypes or theriotypes. Although it's an extremely common experience, not all otherkin go through an awakening.
I recently wrote an article on a personal tumblr, about awakening and its role in the modern nonhuman community, which gained a lot of traction. Being that this is Kinmunity, and not tumblr, this community faces problems tumblr doesn't, and has strengths where tumblr doesn't. However, I would venture to say that Awakening is something that can be talked about in all communities, especially communities where tumblrkin may come here and not necessarily know what it is, or what it entails.
My personal view is that awakening begins when one's Other side first begins to stir (thus, "awaken"), or when one is first aware of being Other, or nonhuman. Sometimes this is a first shift. Sometimes it isn't. Some otherkin don't have this first moment of awakening - they have always been aware of their nonhumanity - but I would approximate that those people are rare at best. (3 people out of ~100 have mentioned it to me since I first wrote about it.)
After this first moment or change comes the realization we've come to call "Awakening." This sometimes happens through friends, or through independent research online or in books. We begin to see mirrors of ourselves in specific animals, or specific types of creatures. We learn about the labels, the terminology, and we learn that our experiences aren't so different from everyone else in this group of people. Many of us think, finally, we've found people that understand us. We begin to engage in these communities, with a desire to be accepted, welcomed, and "adopted" into the proverbial fold.
Then the next phase - Questioning. Many otherkin begin to doubt here. Many are new - many, but not all. They feel disillusioned, they feel betrayed, and they feel lost and hurt. At least, that's what the recent trend has been. Flimsy foundations, built of sand, begin to crumble under the weight of the questions placed upon them, and the otherkin in question begins to feel the weight themselves.
Here, I would draw attention to my wording: I retain that they are otherkin, even under questioning.
It's my personal belief that the practice of thorough questioning stems from the early days of nonhuman communities online. In 1995, a handful of therians from alt.horror.werewolves (AHWW) were conned out of their money by an individual claiming to know the "secrets" to physical shifting.  Without that practice of questioning and skepticism, combined with the longing many of us have to be able to truly physically shift, these people were totally caught unawares, and in an effort to ensure that no such thing ever happened again, the community began to double down.
This process is one of necessity, not desire. No one wants to tear down another member of the community. No person does something if they truly believe it's a bad idea, and all of us only want the best. 'Kin are kin, for better or for worse - We have no other family in this aspect of our lives, aside from ourselves. We want to build each other up.
It doesn't only happen to "new" otherkin - far from it, nor do the questions only come from the outside. Many, many otherkin will tell you: the questioning sometimes doesn't stop. You will question yourself. Others will question you. That doesn't mean you aren't otherkin.
To otherkin struggling with questions: You aren't alone. You aren't being attacked, hated, or ridiculed. Answering the questions asked of you will help you. And if you don't know? That's okay.
If you really, truly don't know the answer to something, you can ask for advice. This isn't a firing squad execution. We're here to support each other, even though we may need to be cautious to take things at face value. If you have questions, you can ask. If you genuinely don't know, or haven't thought of a particular topic, you can say "I don't know, let me get back to you on that."
You aren't expected to know everything, but you are expected to put in effort, to think, and to have facts and experience to back up your more unusual claims. You're expected to share and share alike, to better the community through your involvement, and when you are curious, or when something seems off, to question things yourself.
If you are new to the community, welcome. If you've been here practically all your life, welcome. Welcome here for the first time, or the hundredth, and welcome back to the family.
 Therian Timeline
Tags: Awakenings, Experiences, Spiritual, Psychological, Community