I began dabbling in the furry fandom when I was 19, and in college (early 2014ish). I went to a small college, and I didn't know a whole lot of furries (though I did know a lot of bronies), so I hung around with other furries on the internet. I have never been to a convention, though I've always wanted to go, but didn't have the money, the opportunity, nor my parents's approval. I have never owned a fursuit (the closest thing to one I owned was a Kigurumi until I donated it due to my parents continuously mocking me over it). Then, I got a really nice engineering job in Jacksonville. I thought I was set, and could participate in conventions, meet actual furries in real life, not just behind a screen, maybe acquire a fursuit. But due to the sensitivity of the job, I had to undergo an extensive, and highly intrusive "background investigation" (i.e. list every social media post, alias or "identity" I have ever held, credit card history, list people I was close with, etc.). I panicked. I wasn't sure if my association with the furry fandom, let alone having a secret fursona, was going to be a liability, or even prevent me from holding the job. In a frenzy, I shut down every furry/fursona-related account I had and disappeared off the internet, I didn't even tell anyone why.
Many years have passed, and I managed to make normal friends IRL (still single though). And to this day, no one in my current circle of friends knows about my past furry life. Making it more complicated is the fact that most of the people I know have a very net-negative view of furries (one of them even jokes about how he used to bully furries on 4Chan). But that is a separate issue. I want to meet people who share my interest in furry stuff. And now that the social stigma around furries has (sort-of) lightened, and become more mainstream, I figured I want to get back into it.
Over the past few months, I started to contemplate jumping back in to the fandom, and find people who actually share my hobbies and enthusiasm, but it has been years. Everyone I knew before online has run off. Most of the furry groups in this state are now defunct, save for Megaplex and maybe Gainesville Furs. And most of the surviving groups seem to be geared towards much, much younger (just barely out of high-school) furries. I want to create a new local-ish group to meet, but I'm afraid no one in the fandom even knows me, and I have no clue what a good furry meet would even look like. Is there a way for me to start over, despite being out of it for so long and jumping in kind of late? Or has my time passed and I should just close the door?
Tactical Furball (age 27),
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Dear Tactical Furball,
The past is the past and is, often, best left there. My advice to you would be to start anew as if you had never before dabbled in the fandom. You don't have to change your fursona name if you don't want to, but just start creating accounts on various social media and gaming (if you like) sites, reintroduce yourself and have fun. If someone recognizes you from the past, simply explain what happened and that you are coming back to the fandom. Most furries will understand the circumstances that led to your earlier decision to leave and will be glad you returned.
As for furmeets and running them, they can be whatever you like them to be. I would suggest setting up a page on MeetUp.com and see if you can attract some interest there. Meetups can be anything from movie or game night at your place to bowling or bar meets (for the older furs), going to parks or beaches or the lake or camping. Whatever you wish.
If you like, I invite you to join my Facebook Greymuzzle group. Over 2,000 greymuzzles there, and I'm sure you'll meet some in your state if not more locally. (Remember to answer the questions to join or you won't be allowed into this closed group).
Finally, as for your coworkers and nonfurry friends, that goes on a case-by-case basis. You should know your friends well enough to figure out which ones are cool and which ones (like that guy who torments furries online--you should dump him) are not. Tell the ones who are cool and don't tell the ones who are butt munches.
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