I have been writing the "Ask Papabear" column for seven years now. I wanted to pause for a moment and offer these thoughts and points to all of you who read this blog....
Why do I write "Ask Papabear"? Hmm. I started writing it when young furries started seeking advice from me unsolicited. I became active in the fandom rather late, but most furries are in their teens and twenties, and I saw that a lot of them lacked positive mentors in their lives. You know, when I first created the website, people made fun of me. "Who is this guy that calls himself 'Papabear' and why does he think he's so great he can give furries advice? Does he just want to be a popufur?" There was some furry radio podcaster who mocked my voice (even though there is no audio on the site) and acted like I was a doofus. A friend of mine alerted me to the broadcast as it was ongoing, and I felt humiliated. So I called the station up, and they said the guy who was mocking me was just doing it "because it's his job on the show to mock people." Although they apologized, and I told them I accepted that apology, in my head I felt really bad. I almost quit right there because I felt, "Well, if this is how furries are, then f*** 'em."
But I didn't quit because I realized that people like that were a minority, and if I quit then a lot of furries that needed some encouragement would go lacking.
Why do I feel I am qualified to give advice? First, it should be noted that most newspaper advice columnists in the past were women with absolutely no background in psychology or social work; newspaper editors gave them the job on the old social pages to fill up some space and appeal to women readers. So, I didn't need any qualifications LOL. However, I actually DO have qualifications, even though I'm not a trained counselor. I have life experiences that cover many bases relevant to furries, and, being a furry myself and a fursuiter, I know what it's like to be a furry. I've actually had compliments from psychologists and social workers about my column. Oh, I also studied psychology for two years in college before switching majors to English. Finally, since I don't charge for my advice, I'm not pretending to be a professional, so nothing illegal is happening here.
But WHY do I do it?
I have found in my life that things such as money, material goods (houses, cars, etc.), and power have no appeal to me. They do not give me any satisfaction. The only thing that has made this bear's life feel worthwhile is hearing from people like you who have said that I have helped them. When I hear, for example, that I have helped a married couple with their problems in bed and have brought them back from the brink of separation, or that I have gotten two furries to hook up and become lifetime mates, or that I helped a parent understand her furry child, well, that just brings a big grin to this greymuzzle's face! So, I guess you could say I'm being selfish. Helping people makes me happy. I have struggled since my teen years with depression (still have it, of course), and people like you are my antidote for when I feel sad about the losses in my life or about the state of the world.
To you, and to all my readers, thank YOU for helping ME.
Papabear Grubbs Grizzly
Hey Papa Bear!
So lately, I’ve been feeling pretty down. I do not know how to tell my friends I am a furry.
I want them to know, especially because I really really like one of them. I think about them every night. Like kind of sexually, but I am unsure. I want her so bad. But she may think it is weird I’m a furry.
I can’t get her out of my head. I want her to love me back. I want to take our relationship to the next level, but I want it to happen in my furry suit. I don’t think they will like that. Please help.
Sky the Emo Wolf
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Telling someone you're a furry is truly an excellent way to find out if they are really a friend and/or potential mate material. I understand your nervousness, but usually, there is no reason to fear! I remember years ago being nervous to tell my late husband, Jim, that I was a furry. Our relationship had progressed to the point (still just BFs at the time) that I wanted to tell him. Guess what? He thought it was cool and fun, and after that he went to several furcons with me and had a great time. Then there was a time my ex found out online I was Papabear and had the column. She was totally cool with it and thought the column was well done.
So, after those experiences, I was a lot less shy about telling people I'm a furry. So far, no one has judged me badly about it, but I can see where some might. If anyone doesn't want to be my friend just because I occasionally don a bear fursuit (and if educating them a bit about the fandom doesn't change their mind) then I don't think I really want to be friends with them anyway.
The same goes for you. If you tell this girl you're a furry and she hates you for it, or makes fun of you, or just doesn't want to be your friend, then you're better off without her in your life, to be perfectly frank. You don't want a person like that as a girlfriend. If you are at a point in a relationship when you feel you can open up to a friend (or potential girlfriend) about your furry side, then just do it. Be honest, be open, be willing to answer any and all questions. After that is done, you will find out if they are true friends who care about you and like who you are.
hello Papabear, I need some advice. I'll be flying to Further Confusion in a few days and that presents a problem. I get so wound up and anxious before going to a convention that I can't get any sleep the night before. Can you offer any tips on how I can relax and get the sleep i need for the day ahead? Thanks!
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It depends on what you mean and what is causing this feeling. Are you worried about your flight and the trip itself? Or are you just overly excited about all the fun you're going to have? Or are you worried that the con won't live up to your expectations?
There are a number of things you can do. If you are nervous about flying, you can: 1) try to keep your mind off it by reading, watching movies, playing games on a hand-held device, or listening to music; 2) avoid caffeinated beverages that can make you more nervous; 3) try calming breathing exercises; 4) or, if all else fails, talk to your doctor about possible medication to calm down.
If you are overly excited about the upcoming convention, some techniques above will help, such as avoiding caffeine and distracting yourself with activities. You can also exercise, do yoga or Tai chi (or Qigong), try meditation, or just fill your time by talking to family and friends and keep yourself busy until the time comes to leave.
It is important to try to eat healthily and get sleep. You don't want to arrive tired, do you? When you go to bed, make sure the room is dark, cool, and quiet. Do progressive muscle relaxations once you get in bed. You do this by starting with the toes. Become conscious of your toes and relax them. Let them go. You might be surprised you are tightening muscles and not realizing it. Work your way up your body: feet, calves, thighs, pelvic region, lower back, abdomen, upper back, shoulders, arms, hands, neck, jaw, until all your muscles are released. Once you unclench all your muscles, you will be surprised how easy it is to sleep. During the day, eat light meals with non-beef meats, fresh veggies.... you probably know the drill. Lots of water.
If you are worried about the con itself, well, not much I can do to guarantee a fun time, but you may do that more successfully if you aren't stressed about it and don't go in with any unrealistic expectations. Hey, you're a bear, right? So, you gotta approach it as a bear. Be relaxed, cool, laid back, taking things in stride. Bare necessities, bear!
See you soon!
I've been planning to go to a furry convention for some time. Ever since I told my parents about the furry fandom, they've been okay with it and will let me go to a furry convention when they happen.
However, I've run into some roadblocks in my plans of going to furry conventions. One of them being where I live. Sydney is the closest that hosts furry conventions. That and well-known furry gatherings like FurJAM. The problem is that at least from what I've seen, they either have VERY limited space to register for furries to go in (like Harbor City Fur Con) or they use PayPal only which my card wasn't accepted and neither parent has that (FurJAM).
There's also overseas ones that are also well-known (like Anthrocon and Midwest Furfest) and air travel on top of the other expenses like registration and essentials would be too expensive for an Australian like me who'd probably never get to go if I get work again because work should take priority. Going to a furry convention for fun instead of working makes me seem selfish and not caring about working (or maybe that's my anxiety talking).
It also doesn't help that air travel costs so much in Australia, that it's put me off trying to save up right now.
When MWFF happened this year and overseas furry friends I knew were going and seeing their posts on social media like Twitter having fun, I felt even more lonely and depressed than I usually get at times. I'd sometimes just cry because of not being able to go and the sheer lack of local furry friends in my life. At least if I had local furry friends around my age, it'd be a lot more bearable and I'd be able to cope with not going.
I fear I might never be able to go considering my circumstances. I've always wanted to go to Midwest and Anthrocon or even just local cons but if the money option is Paypal, I might as well give up. I'd love to meet furries who've inspired me, brought me some honest happiness and were kind to me but it all just feels like a distant dream where I wake up and feel an emptiness in my heart that aches so bad, I wanna cry.
Damn it, I already am.
A sad and lonely dog,
-Sam the dog
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Good for you that you recognize that getting a job and an income is more important than attending a furcon. Priorities. First, focus on getting some income. If you haven't already, open up a bank account, then open a PayPal account and link it to your bank account. That will make it much easier for you to process transactions online, whether for furry stuff or almost anything else (I don't work for PayPal, but I absolutely love their service!)
I would not try to go to an overseas convention if you can't even get to an Aussie one. Start saving up for that. There are several in Australia now that are much more attainable for you than flying to Pittsburgh or Chicago would be. In addition to FurJam and Harbor City Furcon in Sydney, there is Confurgence in Melbourne, NeonFur in Queensland, and (although a big of a trek) West Aussie Fur Frenzy and Fur Out West in Western Australia.
Start getting more active in Australian online communities. Work hard to make friends. Perhaps you can find some to ride share with and/or share hotel rooms with. This is how it's done, hon. There are no shortcuts or magic potions. How do you make friends online with furries? Answer: be friendly! And don't make it all about you; show interest in other people's lives and be supportive of them.
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.