The Ugly Duckling: Finding Your Tribe

The winter is the ugly duckling’s dark night of the soul. He isolates himself from his mother and siblings, and from the tribe who rejected him. He feel guilty and apologetic for being ugly, he cannot lay eggs so he think he is useless, he is a good swimmer and he can fly too but those great qualities are not appreciated among ducks, living here is meaningless, there are no reasons to live for.

The swans that flew down the pond are his saving grace, looking at his future self. Dr. Young stated “we all have some story of return to live out; that is coming back to what we are truly meant to be in the first place, rediscovering who we were in the beginning.” (Young, Lecture 10).

When you tell fairy tales to children, they at once and naively identify and get all the feeling of the story. When you tell them about the poor little duck, the child who have inferiority complex hope that in the end, they too will become a beautiful swan.

We need to find our right tribe, but it is not an easy thing to do because it means loosing the tribe you grew up with. Finding the right tribe and kindred spirits is a fertile ground that will help you flourish to be the beautiful swan that you are meant to be.

Dr. Young:

The lonely Winter comes when we lose track of hope in our own stories. There are times when we can’t even muster the energy to try. We can barely put one webbed foot in front of the other.

Like in the story, we don’t even know how we got through those harsh times. Somehow, in the Springtime, we let something inspire us. Something stirs, and we discover signs of life within.

In psychological terms, it is only after ego has failed, that the breakthrough occurs. Once our conscious efforts to manage our way out, problems collapse, the deeper wisdom can take over. In this story, we just happen to catch a glimpse of transcendent beauty. We have seen it before, but, this time, we follow.


Finding your Soul tribes does mean losing your first tribes to some degree. That can be very sad. As Dr. Young has said, seeking can be a lonely path to take–at least for awhile. 

I do feel like I have found two tribes that are seeking just like me and that is marvelous. Yet, I am still attached to my small family tribe as well. We lost parents very young and are very close. They have always accepted my quirky thinking and never outcasted me. So perhaps I am the luckiest of all. I continue to love the old tribe and enjoy the new ones!

Our Ugly Duckling was lucky too. If he had never seen those swans and been thrilled by them, he might have laid down and died, never knowing any happiness. Ego death (freezing in the lake) can lead to physical death at times. Look at Nietzche. Yet our Duckling had something to hang on to and that may make all the difference!


Andersen, H. The Ugly Duckling. 2017.

Young, Jonathan.  “Lecture 10. Finding Kindred Spirits”. PSY 512 Mythic Stories in Depth Psychology.” University of Philosophical Research, 2017.

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