Hello, again. I just want to start off by saying my deepest condolences for your loss. I can't imagine what it's like to lose someone you care for so much and thank you for continuing to do this in spite of it.
I'm not entirely certain how to work this question, so I'm really sorry if it's confusing.... I used to be really smart, but not anymore, so I lost a lot of my vocabulary. Anyway, how do you know when to give up on something? I mean, does a person get a great realization or something? It's just I've wanted to work in veterinary medicine since I was 6, and now that I'm doing it ... I'm positively awful at it.... I can't do anything right. I'm just shy of a year at my job and I don't seem to be getting any better at it. I'm always being yelled at for my screw ups and I'm trying my very best but it's pretty clear it's just not enough.... I've had two panic attacks at work already. Thankfully, I was able to keep it hidden both times, so at least I didn't get fired. But I'm starting to think my mom was right, I'm just useless and not good at anything. That I should just find a dead end job that requires no skill or brain power and that's it. But, I'm just not ready give up.... Am I, as the expression goes, not seeing the forest for the trees?
Once again, thank you for your time.
Galileo (age 27, New York)
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Before I answer in more depth, what do you mean "I used to be smart but I've lost a lot of my vocabulary"? Did you suffer an injury that caused you to forget words? What's going on there?
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Not an injury, but couple years ago, I terribly sick and it really messed with my mental facilities.
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What was the illness, please.
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Would you believe Lyme disease? I was in the that lucky percentage that it affects brain. I haven't been right since.
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Okay, I believe I have enough information now, thank you. Let’s talk first about the Lyme disease. Very sorry that happened to you. If you haven’t already done so, I would apply right away for social security disability (http://www.disabilitysecrets.com/social-security-disability-lyme-disease.html and confer here, too: http://www.ssdrc.com/ssd-lyme-disease.html and here http://fromlymetolife.com/category/social-security-disability-for-lyme-a-how-to-guide/). You are probably eligible for government assistance because of your condition. You need to get documentation from your doctor and go through an application process, of course. Sometimes, sad to say, you also need to call an attorney to get what you deserve (our lame government often fights tooth and nail before it gives money to people who qualify, but it is worth the effort).
Okay, next: your job. Do your bosses at work know you had Lyme disease and it affected your mental faculties? If not, they really should know. Perhaps they can change your workload in order to compensate; if they do know and are still treating you this terribly, shame on them.
It’s not your fault that you are having these problems. Please don’t blame yourself and put all the guilt on you. You had a disease and it hurt you; would you blame yourself if you had fallen, struck your head, and suffered some mental impairment? No, you would not, and neither should you for this. Also, shame on your mother for calling you useless. I wish I could hit her on the nose with a rolled up newspaper. “Bad, Mom! Bad! No! No!”
What you need is a supportive voice or two or three in your life. I suggest you take a look at the following links for resources and advice:
Galileo, before you go worrying about your career, you need to take care of yourself and learn how to manage what has happened to you because of this disease. Please take some time to do that, and then we can talk again.
I've heard great things about you. I am relatively new to the fandom and my friends don't know that. These friends of mine really dislike furries as a whole yet they know nothing about them. I was wondering if you had any tips on how I can convince them that furries aren't bad and something they shouldn't hate without giving away that I am a furry. Thank you for your time.
Someone on the Internet (age 14)
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As with any type of prejudice, hatred of furries is born of ignorance on the part of the hater. (As you might have heard, I’m working on a book to help correct this ignorance, but it’s been delayed because I’ve had to finish the book Yogi was working on when he passed away). Therefore, the best way to convince someone that furries are nice people is to introduce them to furries and have them get to know furries as people. If your only impression of someone is what you see on TV or on the Internet, you’re going to get the wrong idea. Why? Well, because the media thrives on getting people upset and fearful; the more controversy they stir up the more people watch their broadcasts and websites.
As you said, your friends know nothing about furries. You can talk to them until you’re blue in the face, but unless they get to know us you aren’t going to change their minds. See if you can take your friends to a furry meet, or even a furcon. They’ll discover we’re very nice, creative, and fun people.
How do you do this without telling them you’re a furry? Well, if you’re too embarrassed to admit you’re a furry, then that’s something you should perhaps work on first for yourself before you go trying to convince your friends about us. Your friends would have to be awfully dumb not to figure out you’re a furry if you are spending lots of time trying to convince them the fandom is great.
Remember, real friends will like you for you. If they don’t, they aren’t real friends and you’re better off without them. This is a difficult lesson for any teenager to learn because we’re so desperate at that age to “fit in,” but it’s one worth learning.
Dear papa bear,
I am a male & recently (June 2015), I told my best friend that I like him. Before telling him, he gave me several hints that suggested he felt the same way. (Saying I had a big dick, asking if I could rap my dick a fruit roll up, asking why does the light skinned dick have to be bigger than the dark skin dick, waiting for me to get out the shower so we could end up getting dressed at the same time, and so on). So I let all these things build up before I actually told him. I tried to find a way for 2 months to tell him, but I finally did. The conversation went something like I said, "Have you ever just liked somebody & didn't know how to tell them." He said "Nahh" So then I said "Well I really feel some type of way about this person." His response was "Who, male or female?" I said "Male." He said, "Who, Paul?" I said, "No." Then he said, "Who? Me?" I said, "Yes." Then he said, "Oh. Well different people have different preferences." So as we were getting out the car I said I'll text you & he said ok. So while we were texting I told him again & he said he wasn't a homo & assured me he wasn't going to tell anyone. A few days after that, I left to go out of town so we didn't see each other for the whole summer. It wasn't until we got back to school in the fall that I found out he had went around telling everyone & acting funny with me. One day we would be friends, then next we wouldn't. I couldn't understand why my best friend was doing me this way. I tried several times to fix our friendship, but nothing worked. He started talking to all these females & having sex with them after we've been in college 4 years & this is when he decides to do this to prove to people that he is not gay, when everybody knows he is lying. To sum it up, we ended up fighting by the end of the semester & the little bit of friendship we had is now gone. We haven't talked since November 24 & it's now January 5. What should I do?
Anonymous (age 21)
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I can tell from this letter that you’re pretty smart. You’ve figured out exactly what I would have said: this is classic overcompensation by your friend to disguise the fact that he’s gay. He’s distance himself from you by telling everyone you’re gay, and then jumped into a pool of wanton heterosexual sex to try and convince everyone how masculine he is (and how immature). Could you be wrong that he’s gay? Hmm, maybe, but it’s kinda true that guys like us have a “gaydar,” as they say. You can tell. Heck, even straight people can tell a lot of the time, as you seem to indicate in your letter by implying most people who know him on campus have figured it out, except a few dense and overly horny students he’s managed to sleep with.
Since you already understand what’s going on, this will be a very short reply on Papabear’s part. Go talk to him once more, and simply say, “Buddy, we both know who you really are inside. When you get over being afraid of that, give me a call. In the meantime, make sure you wear a condom when you’re having sex with all those girls and pretending to be straight.”
And walk away.
You’ve left the door open if he wants to talk to you (don’t shut it), but there’s no reason you should have to put up with his childish drama. Life is far too short to waste a lot of time on someone who might not even want to be fixed. If you’re searching for a boyfriend or more, start looking for someone who knows who he is and doesn’t play games. You’ll be much happier. Remember, you aren’t responsible for trying to help people who don’t want to be helped. You have to wait until they ask.
In this life, friends come and some of them go. Don’t worry. You’ll be fine.
I have had depression for almost 8 years but was diagnosed around 4 years ago. Now, I didn't have much in my life, my parents had split when I was young, my dog died on Christmas morning, I have been bullied and have Asperger’s. I found out about furries at a relatively young age, and since then I have always hated my life and wanted to, become, a character from a furry comic. I can't really explain my case but I notice things happening to me but can't change that. I've been to too many counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, and mentalists to feel happy about my life. I have been having extremely suicidal thoughts lately as I have delved further into the furry universe and I have almost distanced myself from what is reality in my mind. I honestly don't know what to do anymore as I can't live in this reality while my mind thinks and believes in so many others that are better. I need help or I don't think I can play this game of charades (life) anymore.
Fisker (age 17)
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I understand exactly what you are feeling; really, I do. And since you have tried psychologists, psychiatrists, and other counselors, I won’t refer you to them. You’ve come to me, and I am honored.
You and I both know that life can be cruel and unfair. I just lost my love, Yogi, a few months ago, and, believe me, especially those first few weeks after his death, I wanted to follow him. But death is the easy way out, living is the challenge.
So, why are we alive? Why are you, Fisker, subject to so much grief? Is God just a cruel torturer, watching us suffer as He laughs at us from his throne in Heaven?
No. Fisker, what you and I (all of us) are is spirit temporarily encased in a mortal coil. We are here, in the physical world, to learn, and one of those things we must learn is sadness. It’s been said that God never hands us more than we can handle, but I don’t think that’s true, either. Sometimes we can’t handle it, and some people who can’t handle it take their own lives.
I’ve questioned my existence for a long time, and even more now. When I was 18, I attempted suicide, but, of course, lived. Today, I am alive even when my dear Yogi is dead. The only answer I can come up with is that we are not yet done with what we have been sent here to do. If I had died at 18, this column would not exist and I couldn’t try and help others. If I had taken my life after Yogi’s death, I wouldn’t be here now to help you, either.
My piano teacher told me something similar. He suffered from a stroke, was in a coma, and even believes he saw the other side. He came back, though, and is now my teacher. He has been there to comfort me in my loss and has become a dear friend. He told me the other day that he thinks one reason he lived and recovered was to be my friend.
Fisker, you are still here because whatever powers that be that have given us the universe want you to be here. You are only 17. You have a great deal of living to do. Although things are tough for you right now, I can guarantee that they will change. And, since you are at a very low point right now, my prediction is that they will get better. (You can only sink so low, right?)
Your life will change. YOU will change. OMG, I am such a different person now than I was at your age. And you will be, too, when you are mine. The thing you must do now is hold on while you get through this bumpy ride because if you do you will eventually find yourself on better footing.
If I can do it, you can do it. I’ve been through my parents’ divorce; I’ve been through bullying; I’ve been through death, and more. Hold on and you will someday find your reason for being here as I have found mine: this column.
In the meantime, I am here for you. You can write me anytime.
I've told my mom I wanna build a costume. I didn't say a furry costume because she sometimes doesn't agree with my likes. So I bought materials to make the head except for eyes so I asked her to order 3 things for me then she forced me to confess why I'm making this. If I told her, she probably took the materials. She always told me to be myself and being a furry is being myself. How do I tell her I'm a furry in the nicest way possible?
Layla (age 15)
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Sigh, the typical hypocrisy of mundane adults. I had another letter sometime back when a young girl was told by her school that the students should come to class dressed as a character that expresses themselves. Well, she wore her furry outfit and they promptly marched her to the counselor’s office. Adults are such schmoes. They say “be yourself” but only if “yourself” is something they approve of.
You know, just because you’re making an animal costume doesn’t mean you are necessarily a furry. Does she have to know this? It could be a Halloween costume, it could be a mascot, etc. etc. That’s one strategy. They other is to educate her. She, like so many others, obviously has the wrong idea about furries. She, like so many others, tends to lump people in the same category; she likely thinks of them all as shiftless, weird, unemployed, game-obsessed sex addicts, or some such thing, and then concludes “No daughter of mine is going to be like that!”
Many furries actually have great jobs and are well educated. Uncle Kage, for example (you may have heard of him), has a doctorate in pharmacy; others are computer programmers, engineers, businesspeople, or, like me, writers.
So, if you don’t want to pretend you’re making a mascot or other non-furry outfit, you can discuss it in a mature way and hope for the best. First, ask your mother what she thinks a furry is; likely, she will say some things you don’t agree with. Next, tell her that she taught you not to judge people so quickly or to stereotype people. Explain that furries are a very diverse group. There are even Christian furries! It’s wrong to try to put all the square, star-shaped, triangular, and oblong people into the same round hole. Remind her that she told you that you could be yourself. Ask her if she really meant that, or if she was not sincere. Tell her that if she is nervous in any way for any reason, you are happy to let her supervise everything you do to reassure her.
That’s about all you can do, really. Usually, the more people know, the less likely they are to judge. Also, the more openly you communicate, the more likely they are to trust. Be transparent.
Good Luck! Stay Furry!
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[Update: January 11]
Well she doesn't really care about it but she doesn't help me buy materials for it.
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I see. So much of what I wrote above was unnecessary because your mother doesn't actually oppose your being a furry? Well, no problem then. She's not preventing you from building the fursuit, so that's good. As for buying materials, your mother is under no obligation to buy something for you, other than food, clothes, shelter, etc. The necessities. Many children are under the mistaken impression that their parents owe them something and should buy them everything they wish for. If you need money to buy materials for a fursuit, I suggest you find a part time job and purchase them with your own money. Check out Hire a Teen for some ideas.
A few years ago I finished University and my friendship group dispersed; so much has changed since then and people I thought would be my friend for a long time turned sour. The biggest problem was with a friend of mine, whom I lived with, that had a strong crush on me. We were good friends for years but his crush was very domineering. It never was spoken about until he asked me out, and I politely declined.
I had never had a partner before and I did not find him attractive, so never reciprocated his emotions, but he persisted to the point of obsession; as time went by, and graduation loomed, he began stalking me, and on several occasions he threatened my life. He told a friend he could kill me if he wanted, and I got frightened of him. He had a history of depression and we always knew it, but it seemed to become very bad and he would not get help.
I was so offended and scared of who he became after my rejection, I severed all contact with him. Now, three years later, I am seeking a job in a company that I dream of working at and have found out he works there too.
How should I deal with meeting this person again? I have a loving boyfriend now and am nervous of meeting this old friend. How will he react - how should I act? Any advice is appreciated.
Blackwolf (age 25, England)
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The biggest mistake that people make when they feel threatened by others (fearing sexual or other physical violence) is to keep it to themselves. I would also suggest that you familiarize yourself with English law about harassment and stalking (cf. http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/s_to_u/stalking_and_harassment/#a03a).
In retrospect, I would have advised you to keep a record of any and all instances of previous harassment, including taking note of what he told other people, who these people were, and when he said it. I would have recorded conversations on the telephone, emails, etc. For now, though, I would say that it would be a good idea for you to reconstruct everything you can remember about what happened for future reference.
Next, as per the above, I would go to the head of your Human Resources Department and make sure they are aware of the situation. This isn’t the same as bringing charges of any type, since he hasn’t yet done anything at your workplace, but your employer should be aware of your fears now and don’t feel embarrassed to suggest they keep a discreet eye on him, including his Internet activities (many businesses are very capable of seeing what their employees do in emails and Web activities). While you are in the HR office, pick the brains of the people there and ask them for advice on what you should do, whether police should be notified, and what company policies are about harassment and stalking.
If at all possible, avoid meeting or talking to this guy. If you can’t do that and have to deal with him, keep it at a 100% professional level; that is, only talk about business. Do not discuss ANYTHING personal about your life, either now or in the past. He is a robot to you, a functionary, that’s all.
Good luck! HUGS!
[Papabear Note: Thank you to everyone who wrote to me in the last couple months since my love Yogi's passing. I appreciate all your support. Hugs.]
I've gone to Megaplex Con for the past two years, but I am too nervous to achieve one of the main reasons I go, which is to meet new people. So what I am asking is this: Do you have any tips on approaching and meeting people?
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Indeed, I do. Going to a furcon or other convention is a great way to meet new people because you know you are surrounded by attendees who share your interests, making it easier to relate to them. Even so, we can be nervous about striking up a conversation. Here are some things you can do:
Things to Avoid
How to Get Out of It
The Next Step
Some of the best friendships can be formed at a con. Relax, be yourself, and allow yourself to learn about other people and you’ll be fine.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.