Dear Papa Bear,
I have been having some trouble with my relationship and I wonder if you can help me? This isn't about furry, if that's okay? Please.
Anyway, I met my mate, "Mark," about three years ago and he's a great guy. After dating for over a year, we decided to move in together. At first it was great, but now I'm kind of wondering if I might have rushed into things. Mark is a very nice guy. He works in C.S., doesn't make a lot of money, but together with my job we do great, and the good news is both our families are fine with our relationship.
I'd be very happy, except for one thing. Our sex life. Mark at first seemed okay with sex, but he seems less and less interested. Even when he is interested--and I feel really guilty saying this--he's not ... he's not very good. I feel very unsatisfied in the bedroom. Before we met, I was pretty promiscuous, I have to admit. I didn't do anything stupid, like have unprotected sex, but I probably had sex with over 20 guys in that period. I even did a couple orgies and really liked it. But people kept telling me that the only way to be happy was to be with one guy, and I kept talking to people who seemed to want monogamous relationships. After I met Mark and we moved in together, all my friends kept telling me how lucky I was. And, I am, but I'm not happy. I've tried "spicing things up" and doing role play and such, and he seems to try to get into it, but I can tell he isn't really and he's just doing it to please me. But he seems happy with HIS sex life because he doesn't really need it much. And, when we do make love, it is usually me servicing him and then he rolls over and goes to sleep without even offering to do something for me. I've tried to tell him I need more, and each time I do, he does a little better for a little while, and then it is right back to where we started.
I feel so shallow that sex is important, and I've been denying my feelings for Mark's sake for two years now, but it's getting bad and I think he can tell I'm not happy. He caught me a couple times looking at furporn and... doing stuff.
This is driving me crazy! Papa Bear, how can I tell someone I love that he isn't making me happy in the bedroom? What can I do? Should I leave him? I don't want to, I love him so much but I feel so stuck.
* * *
Papabear is sorry you are having a hard time with your boyfriend. It's very hard to find someone in your life who satisfied every item on your wish list, but there are a couple of things on everyone's list that are near the top, and a good sexual relationship is one of them. Usually, there are some minor differences in people's wants that can be straightened out with some frank discussion. Communication in the bedroom is, of course, important. But, you said you have talked to him and it didn't help. You also did what I would have suggested next, which is trying to spice things up with a bit of role play, but that, apparently, didn't work either.
You don't mention your ages, so another thing I am wondering about is if maybe Mark is up there in years and his testosterone levels might be low. Or, perhaps, he has another medical issue, such as with his heart or diabetes? Does he have erectile dysfunction? Have you tried Viagra or Cialis?
If none of these things have worked, there is still hope for you and Mark. One thing you can try is sex counseling. There are therapists who specialize in sexual relationships who may be able to help, but both of you need to attend these sessions for it to work.
Another thing to consider is called a "monogamish" relationship. What is monogamish? It is a relationship that is somewhere between monogamy and polygamy. In monogamy, of course, both partners are totally dedicated to each other in every way: emotionally, sexually, financially, spiritually etc. In polygamy, one or both partners has multiple partners, which can include loving relationships (think old school Mormon practices).
In a monogamish relationship, however, the two partners remain completely and totally emotionally committed to one another. No one else has claim to either one's heart. BUT, when one of the partners has a sexual need that the other one—for one reason or another—cannot fulfill, they can go outside and get their satisfaction that way.
This isn't really the same as an "open" relationship because, in my opinion, an open relationship is really letting either partner do whatever he or she wants. In a workable monogamish relationship, the partners agree to certain ground rules. For example, the rule might be that the partners play with other people only by bringing them in for a three- or foursome or whatever. Sometimes that doesn't work, however, because differing sexual tastes might make a threesome awkward, so another rule might be that one partner only play with another person if it is someone they both trust. Anyway, whatever the rules, there is an agreement that the two partners adhere to and there is no sneaking around and having sex with whomever you take a fancy to.
I've read some interesting articles about this online with some facts about which I was unaware. Apparently, among gay couples, monogamish relationships are quite common and have proven to be successful.
Open relationships can work, too, but you might want to start with a monogamish one. Consider the sex therapist, too, or the other things I noted if you haven't already tried them.
I wish you much luck, hon. It stinks to be in the position you are in. Please don't feel guilty about it. Everyone has needs and it is up to BOTH partners to work out those needs and make sure they are being fulfilled.
Let me know how it works out. HUGS!
Hi Mr. Bear,
I'm looking to get a better knowledge of the Otherkin / Therian groups.
The main issues is all info I've found are basically just pieces of other "religions / way of thought" that are twisted to fit in the context.
I know your Paganist therefore I'm pretty sure you'll understand my "request."
I would like to know if you are aware of any site / forum / FB group that have information's about Therian and/or Otherkins that is just not Twisted info from other believes systems.
Or are they just that, an amalgam of other believes "twisted" into something "new"?
Thank you to have too the time to my question.
* * *
I signed you as “Anonymous” to protect your identity more than just your fursona name because I want to respond to your letter on the website.
Papabear hears you saying that you are searching for what is the “ultimate” truth or definition of a Therian and for Otherkin because the sites you are finding on the Web are “twisted” to fit the perspective, I suppose, of each particular site’s creator.
This might be news to you, hon, but all belief systems are “twisted” to fit the views of those who create them. Whether you are talking about a religion, a philosophy, or a belief in elves or werewolves or, as I believe, a spiritual connection to them, these are all worldviews that come from us and, therefore, are all “twisted” based upon our experiences and our character.
Papabear’s understanding, when it comes to Otherkin, is that they believe they harbor the spirits of elves or fairies, or sometimes creatures like dragons or demons, that have originated from another world or parallel universe (well, that is one interpretation; there are others, probably); and Therians believe they can, in some manner, transform into another creature, sometimes physically, sometimes spiritually/mentally, depending on what they are, or simply that they, too, harbor the spirit of an animal within them, but these animals are based on creatures we see in this world, such as wolves or bears, instead of “mythological” beings. Some Therians believe in the idea that one can become a Therian and others believe you are born Therian. A better explanation can be found in the excellent Wikifur website at http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Otherkin. Even within the Otherkin and the Therian communities, there is debate about what it means to be an Otherkin or Therian; some people even say there is no big difference between the two (Granny Smith vs. Fuji Apples, instead of apples vs. oranges).
In short, you will never find an ultimate truth about either one because there is none. This is not an atypical phenomenon in our world, either. People seem intent upon dividing themselves into every more individuated groups based upon their interpretations. That’s why, for example, the Christian Church divided into Catholics and Protestants, and then the Protestants further divided themselves into various denominations ad infinauseum.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it is a good thing that people keep wondering about their world and coming up with new ways to try to understand it. This indicates a dynamic search for the Truth rather than a stagnant one. If you are a seeker of Truth, it would benefit you to learn about all of these schools of thought and then, once you have gathered the information, consider it carefully and draw your own conclusions.
Remember, a well-considered and hard-earned belief system is better than a belief system that is simply parroted based upon what others have told you to believe. The information you get from books or the Web or from listening to others speak is the brick and mortar you can use to construct your own faith and philosophy. Some bricks you will find good and solid (e.g., The Golden Rule), while others you may wish to discard (e.g., priests can earn money, nuns cannot). The structure you may build might even have to be torn down once or twice and rebuilt again and again until you are happy with the results. (Then, as they say in my corner of the world, “It’s time to decorate!” JK)
So, no, Papabear does not know of any website that will satisfy your question about Otherkin and Therians. What is beautiful is you have the power inside you to discover your own truth.
So mister papa bear ...
I hope for advice and clarification on relationships.
First my family and I are doing a bit better and I've gathered my self and applying to everything that's offered.
Second is something a bit more complicated and why I’m contacting you. I always liked helping with minor tech support and thus kinda how I introduce myself to new furs. So I help this one guy and get his [computer] back up and running and we have been talking over the last 4 months so he is a friend.
Now the confusion... I always thought I was straight but recently I enjoy his chats of random things and it kinda brightens my day. We ... recently started to rp together and now yiff too. I enjoy it I do, but once I start thinking “oh, the other one is also male” it kinda ends up in a stand still and me feeling guilty and the other one feeling like he pressured me.
It’s just he also helped me like you did stop the idea of suicide.
I do enjoy rping and everything but as soon as I think it’s a male I'm doing it with confusion of who I really am.
I'm confused now more then ever since I look almost forward to his text messages.
It might seem silly. And the other says more or less we are who we are, but I is real answer. May you help?
* * *
Don't overthink things, hon. If you like the guy and you like chatting with him and even yiffing, then relax and enjoy it.
* * *
And what if I want to see him and be with him? I mean it sounds right but confusing and is warping who I think I am.
* * *
You need to learn to trust your instincts. Many people have lost touch with their instincts, and, instead, listen to the brainwashing judgment of parents, peers, and those at the top of the social hierarchy. [Here is yet another reason I feel the furry fandom is taking off—the desire of the younger generation to reconnect with Nature and the Animal Kingdom—with INSTINCT—something that modern society has stripped away from us and denied us.]
Note that you say “who I THINK I am.” Your intellectual side is creating a filter that is blocking your connection with who you REALLY are.
I can say this from experience. For 40 years I thought I was a straight man. That is because I believed all the crap that was going into my ears and eyes from my father and the media, among other sources--I was brainwashed. When I learned who I really was because I allowed my instincts to awaken, it was a huge surprise for me, I can tell you! But I am better for it.
If you want to be with this guy, and if your heart is saying that you may even love him, then, if I were you, I would listen.
This does not necessarily mean you are gay (why do we have to label everything?). It means your instincts are telling you that you should be able to love a person with whom you feel a connection.
Love is color blind. Love is blind to race, nationality, religion. Love knows only the heart.
This is why those in power hate Love, because Love cannot be controlled by money and power. Love liberates us. Love connects us. Love is Instinct. It is within us from the time we are conceived. Hatred is learned. Hatred is the elite’s tool of preference for controlling the masses (the second tool being, of course, ignorance, which is why our school system has been destroyed—sorry, I’m getting on my soap box).
Don’t be confused, hon. Let yourself be free.
I have a real problem that I need help with. My best friend, who I just recently found out is gay, have told me he loves me. He said it through a text message since I'm out of town right now and I haven't responded. I'm not gay and don't feel about him this way but I'm worried that if I tell him this then it might ruin our friendship. Also, he gets depressed really easily and has been suicidal before. I don't want to be the reason he has a relapse, especially since he said I'm one of the reasons he is so happy these days. I need some advice on what I can say to keep our friendship strong and not hurt him or make him depressed. Please help me, I really don't know what to do or say.
* * *
That is, indeed, a quandary, and Papabear is glad you are being so kind and considerate about your friend’s feelings. Certainly you need to be honest with him, because if you’re not you’ll just be leading him on, giving him false hopes. You need to have a dialog with him in which you carefully balance the fact that the two of you cannot have a sexual relationship (I’m assuming that’s what he meant by “love you” and not just platonic love) with the even more important fact that he is a dear friend whom you care about greatly and will always support and love in a brotherly way.
Did you see the “Lord of the Rings” movies? A lot of people made fun of the characters Samwise and Frodo because they expressed such love for each other. They kept putting posts on various sites, often including movie stills with highly suggestive captions, implying the two hobbits were gay (like there was time for sex when you’re starving, exhausted, and fighting off orcs and other evil creatures). Anyway, at the end of the movie, Sam and the others return to the Shire and Sam meets a girl, gets married, and has kids.
When you talk to your friend, you can use this analogy of your being like Sam to his Frodo, and how much you care about him, but asserting you are straight like Sam. Also, reassure him repeatedly that you are absolutely fine with his being gay and that under no circumstances does it mean you cannot be close friends. Explain to him that you respect him for being who he is and, as good friends, you expect him to also respect you for being who you are. Also, apologize that if you gave him the impression you were gay, it was not your intention and that you in no way were trying to mislead him. You are simply a straight man who does not exactly fit into a macho lifestyle.
Tell him you are very proud of him for coming out to you; it was a brave thing to do, and you are very glad he felt the two of you were good enough friends that he could do so. Reiterate that the two of you can still have a very caring and close friendship, filled with many good times ahead, and that friendships—true friendships like that between Sam and Frodo—are rare and to be treasured. Your being straight is not a rejection; it is simply who you are. You are not rejecting him, and, in fact, your friendship is even stronger now because it is completely open and honest. The two of you know who the other one is, inside and out, and you are good with it and content to be good friends.
Your friend might be emotionally fragile, but if you give him enough reassurance that your friendship is not only intact, but stronger for his confession, as well as telling him how proud of him you are and how glad you are to have him as a friend, then you should be fine.
Finally, it is extremely important that you do not change your behavior in a negative way toward him. That is, you do not reduce the number of times you see him or talk to him on the phone or online. You might even wish to increase this contact somewhat as further reassurance to him that the two of you are cool. Remember, it is not just what you say but also your actions that reveal who you are and what kind of relationship you have.
Please write again if you have more questions, and good luck!
Thank you for reading this letter. I am a male furry. I discovered the furry fandom a few years ago, and I dream of having a fursuit. I currently have two fursonas, and that is precisely where my problem resides.
My main fursona is a male, but my secondary fursona is a female. I know that this is something that most furries dislike, some even going to the point of calling people who dress in a fursuit of the opposite gender "trolls." I also live with a family with a very conservative lifestyle, which is completely against gay, bisexual and transgender people.
However, I am not transgender, nor gay, nor bisexual. I am happy with my male body, and I am more than certainly attracted to members of the opposite sex. But sometimes I feel like there are certain things I can't express as a male. That is one of the reasons why I created a female character. But I am afraid of the impression that others furries might get. I am also afraid of going to a convention and being mocked because of my fursuit. Due to my family, the simple act of being here, considering the mere idea of using a female fursuit makes me feel like a criminal.
So, my question is the following: Should I commission the creation of my female fursuit despite what other furries might think?
* * *
Thanks so much for your letter, and what a great question! To start, let me state that anyone calling you a “troll” for dressing as a female furry doesn’t understand what a troll is, and, in fact, THEY are the ones acting like trolls! A “troll” is someone who deliberately attacks, flames, causes arguments, and otherwise upsets people for no good reason (some nasty people get their rocks off by hurting others; it helps them forget what miserable people they themselves are). This is usually applied to Internet behavior, but I think it could apply anywhere. You, my furiend, are not being a troll.
The reason why your letter is so great is it allows me to clear the air on the social standard inanities of American society. The more cobwebs and dust gather in my fur, the more I shake my shaggy ursine head at a society that insists on imposing standards of appearance and sexual behavior on its members to the detriment of their pursuit of happiness. I begin with an exasperated “Puh-HUH!” at people who criticize what you wear in a fandom known for dressing up as animals in public. I believe that’s called “irony.” But, you see, what happens is that every clique within society sets up its own standards that, while unacceptable to those outside the clique, must be adhered to by those within (at least, it does for those with limited mental capacities). So, you find yourself in a furry fandom clique that says it’s okay to dress up as, say, a male husky, as long as you are male, but it is not okay to dress as a female with long eyelashes and perhaps some lipstick if you are male underneath the fursuit.
The hypocrisy of this attitude is epic.
Such judgmental people should be made to understand that they are treating you the same way that “mundanes” treat them, and that their criticism of you is just as heinous and mean-spirited as when a non-furry calls a furry a “freak” or “furvert” (and I’ve heard that many times). That makes these judgmental furs just as bad as the people they themselves criticize for not accepting them.
For Papabear, one of the central points of enjoyment of being a furry is being allowed to explore other aspects of yourself. In our case, that is primarily our animal and animal-spirit side, but it also allows us to explore our sexual side, including gender roles, in fun and creative ways. Perhaps that is a reason so many LGBT people are drawn to the fandom. The standards we hold in society for how men should dress and how women should dress are artificial, made to reinforce society’s expectations of us. Like donning a military uniform as a way to psychologically condition us into conformity, men dress in masculine attire because society says that should be our role, and women the opposite. When someone breaks out of that standard, such as an effeminate gay man or a cross dresser, he is criticized and rejected because he is challenging society and must be beaten down into submission. As with the cross dresser, however, an outfit does not a gay man make.
In fact, your letter reminds me of one I responded to back in March: http://www.askpapabear.com/1/post/2013/03/how-to-explain-youre-a-woman-with-a-male-fursona.html. In that case, it was a woman who, although she was happy being a woman, her fursona was male. She was exploring that side of her personality. If we were to be honest with ourselves and could block out all the voices in our heads that come from parents, other elders, church leaders, etc., and allowed ourselves to be who we really are, we would see that we all have things we enjoy, preferences in life, that can be considered both “masculine” and “feminine.” For instance, just because you are a man who likes watching football, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a fragrant bubble bath by candlelight. Or, on the other paw, you might be a woman who loves pretty pink dresses and floral bed sheets, but you also like to go mountain biking and are a helicopter mechanic in the National Guard.
People need to get over stereotypes. And that includes furries.
I love how you said, “I feel like there are certain things I can't express as a male.” That is so spot on, and I’m glad you realize it. It means that you have wisely recognized that society is trying to define and limit who you are, but you have discovered that exploring things considered “feminine” is a way to more fully express yourself. Bravo!
Now, as for this fear of what others will say. Two words: screw them. Ninety percent of the misery in our lives is born by the fear of what others will say about us. That is because we are social animals and crave the approval of others, a phenomenon that begins in infancy when we want our parents’ approval and continues on throughout our lives. That is what you are clearly feeling with your family, but ideally it should not be a factor within the fandom, an “outsider” society that should be inclusionary and not exclusionary. It disappoints Papabear that you have come across this attitude among furries and makes my bruin side want to kick some furry butt.
Please pardon Papabear for the long-winded answer. In short, to respond to your question, please DO commission a female fursuit. Why? Because that is what you want and it will make you happy. You are not hurting anyone by doing it, and you should not respect the opinions of people who reject you because they are sheep who only understand what is dictated to them when it comes to how people dress and behave.
There are two types of people in the world, C-Ratchet: those who are asleep and those who are awake. Those who are asleep go about their lives, doing what is expected of them, doing what their peers say they should do, being part of the crowd. I am beginning to wonder, in fact, if the furry fandom has become too successful, too large, and is becoming the very thing it rejected about society at large.
Be one of the people who is awake. Be self-aware. Recognize that most of what society tells you is right and wrong is utter bullshit. Reconstruct your worldview. There are only three things you need to remember to be happy in life:
You only have one life. It’s very short. Live it as you see fit.
I could use some advice and I'd like your opinion. I wish to remain anonymous in name for this, so I hope that is okay. I live in a large city and for many years have hosted furmeets for the local furries in the area. My mate and I host several each year and we REALLY enjoy the meets that we have hosted. These meets have been fairly open-invitation-style meets, allowing folks to come whom we have never met before. And we host the majority of these meets in our own home.
However, recently there have been incidents. Things that have begun to sour the joy we have gotten from these events. Most of these problems are minor and petty and really just annoyances. But at our last meet... One of our guests stole something from us.
That in and of itself isn't the problem. The problem is ... now we are not sure if we should ever have a furmeet in our home again.
As I said, we LOVE the meets and really enjoyed them. The thought of stopping them sickens us. And we KNOW the actions of this one individual were just that, one person. And obviously we know who this person is and they will not be welcomed back, but it raises the specter of future violations.
Some have advised us to continue the meets but make them invitation only, and then only people we can trust. But the downside to that is all the new furs we could be meeting who would not be allowed to attend.
Some have suggested stopping meets completely, and again this is distasteful to us since we enjoy them so much.
And others have suggested not having them in our home anymore. Have them in public venues only. Which, while a safer idea for our home and security, can mean much more management on our part to find, prepare, and keep clean and safe the venue we choose.
I've been mulling this over for some time and really don't know what to do. If this was simply the one theft it might be easier, but as I said, there were other incidents which have begun to sour the meets for us. This is more like the iron girder that broke the camel's back.
And while lots of people have been kind enough to offer advice, they have all been, by and larger, from this area. I'd like to have the opinion of someone who is not from our meets or area. And I have noted that you are very thoughtful about your answers, so I would really appreciate your opinion.
* * *
You and your mate are a very generous and kind furs to open up your home as you have been. Most people I have met in my travels are kind and respectful, but, as you have seen, it only takes one or two bad beans in the pot to give you a bellyache.
Papabear has never hosted a meet in his bear den, but I have, of course, held parties. When I do, my guests stay in the living room, kitchen, or back yard, and they are, naturally, allowed to use the guest bathroom. Valuable items my mate and I own are kept in the bedroom and offices, and really valuable items are kept in a lockbox or safe. This is not because I don’t trust my friends—and, indeed, if they want to give themselves a tour of the house, they may do so—but it makes me think that one solution, if I were to have random people in my home, would be to install interior door locks on my bedrooms and office. You can get them for about $10 or $20 each at any hardware store. Then, before your party, put anything of value inside the rooms with locks on the doors. If you have more than one bathroom, designate one of them as a guest bath, and keep the other one locked as well. The locked bathroom is for you to place things like prescription medications (I’ve heard awful stories that some foolish people actually like to play a game in which they ingest pills the prescription for which they don’t even know!)
So, this way, you can keep all your guests in the living room, or family room, and the kitchen where even the boldest of thieves would be unlikely to take something, and, if they did, it wouldn’t be of much value anyway. That would be my first recommendation. Try this first and see how it goes.
If you are still having problems, my second recommendation would be to have parties by invitation only. This doesn’t mean that you won’t meet anyone new. You can tell people you invite that they may invite a guest or two, someone who has not been there before, and hopefully you would trust them not to invite an unpleasant person. To help you with this, you might try organizing a MeetUp group (http://usa.meetup.com/) if you haven’t already done so. This is a great way to send people invites, find out who is coming to the party, and share information.
I’m not sure what your furmeets are like, but if they are unstructured parties where people come to your home, eat, drink, and chat, you might also try something more structured, like a card or video game tournament. Have everyone who is coming participate in the activity, and this will create a more organized activity in which people are easier to track and keep an eye on.
I agree with you that organizing a meet outside the home, such as a picnic or bowling outing, can be a lot of work. It’s also a lot chummier if you can have a party in the home and just let your furry thang hang out (*ahem* so to speak). See what you think of my above suggestions, and let me know how it goes.
The fandom needs more furries like you! People who are willing to organize safe and fun functions. I hope that you won’t have to cancel your parties because of one or two derps.
* * *
My thanks. I forgot to mention that we often allow guests to stay the night, especially if they are from very far away. We use a 3 hour rule. You drive 3 hours, you get to stay the night. Unless it's the one party we do where alcohol is served and then everyone who drinks stays the night, unless they have a clear designated driver. Your advice is about what we have thought of. And much appreciated. We have considered the locks situation, strictly limiting the overnighters, and a sort of loose invitation plan. I really appreciate your opinions and advice because they help us see the problem clearer.
I think we will still do some thinking on this, but a combination of a few of these options may make our home more secure, and still allow us to have these meets. Also, you have given us some new ideas with the meetup site to help us organize better, and you've given us some food for thought on a very real problem we never thought of. The prescription issue. That never even occurred to us, and thankfully has not been one of the problems we faced. But it will certainly be one will address before the next meet now that we are aware.
Thank you so much.
And our next meet was supposed to be in August, but until we resolve this to our satisfaction, we will continue to keep that event as cancelled. Our next on after that will be in November. If all goes well, I'll be happy to update you on how well things worked out.
Again, thank you for the advice.
* * *
Okay, I didn't know about those other issues. My advice on those would be: 1) no alcohol, period. You do not need booze to have a good time. If people stop coming because they can't get drunk, then you're better off without them. 2) ONLY people you know well and trust can spend the night. I can't even imagine why you would allow a stranger to stay overnight in your home. If they are driving from far away, let them make other arrangements for an overnight stay.
I'm glad I could help!
Take care. Stay furry!
Hi Paper Bear,
I ran across this site on accident and have been reading some of your letters for the past hour now ... and I thought maybe you could help me out some. My name is Ash, or Ashly. I'm a 22 year old trans girl, male to female. Problem is I'm running out of options. I live in Alabama in the United States, so first off, not good to be gay and transgender in this state. To make matters worse, however, I've been looking for work since I was 18 with no success. Not one single place has hired me despite me trying. I'm lucky that my friend is letting me live with them out of the kindness of his heart, but after years of mooching, and not finding a source of income, it's starting to hurt me in more ways than one.
Since I have no form of income I can't do anything that I want to do with my life. I can't move out, I can't drive, I can't buy my own necessities, I can't ever plan my trip to my dream vacation in Australia. But, worst of all, I can't even get onto hormones despite being permitted by a psychiatrist.
After years of this it is starting to make me hate my life more and more. Even thoughts of suicide have crossed my mind, which is strange for me, seeing as I don't ever want to do that. The thought of not living scares me and is selfish to others, my friends and mate. But I don't know how much longer I can keep this up. I can't start my life; how much longer must I wait before I can live happily?
What advice could you give me that could help me out? Sorry to ramble but I needed to get that out to someone.
P.S. One reason I have trouble finding work may be due to my lack of high school diploma or GED, and with being mentally handicapped it takes me longer to learn things than normally.
* * *
Indeed, you are in a troubling situation, but as long as you haven’t given up, there is hope. Let’s see if we can think this through, starting with education. You don’t specify what mental handicap you have, but it can’t be a severe one since you are able to write a coherent letter, meaning you can put your thoughts down on paper in a logical manner, something a more severely disabled person could not do. Perhaps you struggle with dyslexia or ADD, but whatever it is, if you can write a letter like this, you can get your GED. It might be a struggle, and you might need some tutoring, but you can do it.
In today’s difficult job market, with so many unemployed and many good jobs shipped overseas, not having at least a high school diploma is a serious disadvantage. I would not be so quick to imply that your lack of employment is due to localized prejudice against the transgendered so much as your lack of education. The longer you wait, too, the more difficult it will be to get work. Employers don’t like to see a resume with years of unemployment on it.
My advice to you, then, would be to get your GED as soon as possible. If you haven’t already done so, go to the GED Testing Service’s test taker page at http://www.gedtestingservice.com/testers/test-taker-home to sign up for online classes, get practice tests, and sign up for a test at a site near you. Before taking the test, take a practice test or two at sites such as www.4tests.com, www.gedonline.org, or www.passged.com.
In the meantime, you still have the quandary of making money. One thing you can do—and I have actually heard some success stories on this one—is to be an at-home customer service employee for such companies as Work At Home Agents (www.workathomeagent.com); LiveOps (www.liveops.com), which requires you to pay $30 to cover a background check, but it is a legitimate company, not a scam; Working Solutions (www.workingsol.com); ACD Direct (http://www.acddirect.com/jobs/); or VoiceLog (http://www.voicelog.com/careers.html).
Even though you are physically stuck in Alabama at the present time, the Internet is the Grand Liberator from Geographic Constraints. Take yours truly. I started work in publishing with companies in Michigan, and I had to live near their offices while I was an employee for brick-and-mortar publishers. Once I went freelance, though, all I needed was a laptop and an Internet connection, so I fled Michigan to live in California, even though my primary client is still in Michigan and another company I work for is based in Europe.
In our modern world, geography is not the limitation it once was.
While it won’t be easy to find work at home and study for and pass your GED, you can do so if you set these as your definite goals and work steadfastly toward them. You are very fortunate to have a good friend who is giving you lodging. Now show him you appreciate what he has done by doing something to improve your life. You are lucky to live in a time where it doesn’t matter where you live. The Internet is for more than playing games and chatting with friends; it liberates us from the physical world to do things that would otherwise be impossible or very difficult to do. You can take advantage of that to transcend your situation.
If you can see progress toward and income and education, you will gain self-esteem, relieving you of the burden of these negative thoughts you've been having. And that will start to snowball until you cannot help but improve your situation.
I've discovered the furries half a year ago and am still discovering the fandom little by little, so I guess you can't really consider me as a full member yet since I don't even have a fursona but after reading some of the letters, I thought you wouldn't mind.
I apologize in advance for my writing since English isn't my native language.
The problem I'm currently experiencing isn't nearly as important as some I've read, but I guess we luckily don't all have suicidal friends or horrible parents, eh?
I'm 18 (considered as adult where I live) and am going to the equivalent of US's college. I am currently on summer vacation and just like during all of the recent years’ summers I am... well, bored. It isn't an issue during the rest of the year since I'm glad to simply get home and relax after school but on summer vacation I have enough time to get bored and the problem is that I just can't find a hobby.
I don't really have any friends since I'm not really friendly... and don't speak much... okay, okay, because I'm just completely asocial to be honest, so I have to have fun by other means, like video games and Internet and... that's it. Staring at a screen has been fun for the last seven or eight years but at this point even that begins to bore me.
Of course Internet gave me some ideas of hobbies, like drawing or writing or programming and I tried each of these but apparently just didn't... had the will (a.k.a. balls) to hold on to them (to the hobbies, I mean). Now, I know the 10,000 hours rule and that I need to dedicate myself to these hobbies in order to begin to be good and enjoy it but I apparently simply don't have the motivation to keep it up and continue even if my current results are horrible (gawd that drawing... even thinking about it hurts my self-esteem, haha...).
I think I'm most interested in drawing. I don't really know why, maybe it's the social aspect or maybe it's that you work around a single "idea" as opposed to writing where you need a lot of imagination to write a whole story.
On the other hand (or let's furrify this expression a little: "On the other paw"), programming might be a good choice too since I'm already familiar with computers (unlike pencils...) and am not too bad at math which is the main source of entertainment at school, right after doodling.
As regards the writing, like I said it does require a lot of imagination which I'm lacking... when I need it. I did tried to write a story once... and ended up staring at the screen with a notepad on it for something about half an hour.
Some days ago I wrote a couple of lines of... poetry/philosophy/whatever-that-is but I still feel better about drawing than writing.
So I guess my question is: what should I do to gain the motivation I need to start a hobby?
Thank you in advance for your advice,
* * *
Thanks for your letter. You can help me out a little by giving me a bit more information. At school, do you have a favorite class or classes? When you watch TV or look on the Internet, what things in particular interest you or at least catch your eye? Are there some things on the news that interest you more than others?
This will help. Thanks.
* * *
After reading your e-mail requesting more information about my interests, I tried to do a list of them and my thoughts trailed off the subject and I ended up doing a lot of thinking... I know it is confusing but I guess my real problem is...worse?...than just a difficulty to find a hobby, which is the consequence of the real problem.
So, it's difficult to explain...
As I mentioned it in my previous letter, I have no friends and my relationship with my family is pretty horrible, all of this being the result of my efforts to keep everyone away from me. I've always been shy and didn't walk up to people first and had only a few friends in my life before we split apart or before I broke off all contact with them.
I think the moment when I switched from shy to asocial was four years ago when I was dumped by my "closest" friends, who were just some school mates when I think about it, for... basically being an annoying asshole. They were right to do this, now when I think about it because during that year I had my teen crisis and was acting really, really like a dumbass.
But the point is that I didn't feel it that way the following year and I guess this is the reason why I began not to dare to talk to others and drive away anyone who tried to get close to me. And from this point the fear of interacting with others slowly grew up to the point when I simply broke all contact with all of my friends and repelled my family to the point when I'm more a dweller in the family's house than an actual member of the family.
It isn't like they don't care about me, it's just that I'm so good at isolating myself that it's rare when we have a conversation longer than a "Hi!" in the kitchen. As regards the school, I usually just ignore anyone who tries to speak with me which gave me the reputation of the-guy-you-don't-speak-with, which is comfortable. This whole situation makes me feel horrible whenever I interact with other people which leads to me isolating myself even more.
At this point you're probably wondering what does all this have with the hobby problem... Well, I'm slowly realizing that I really don't enjoy being alone and that this loneliness makes me depressed. And this depression keeps me from doing anything, drawing, writing, programming or enjoying video-games. Of course, I don't always feel like hanging myself, these moment being actually really rare, but when I try to do something and see it isn't as good as I expected it to be, this depression keeps me from improving myself. I also noticed that these four years of not speaking to anyone left me with a real difficulty to express myself orally and making sentences but I guess this problem will disappear by itself if I begin to actually speak with people.
So, all I need to do to break this depressing monotony is simply begin to talk to people, starting with my family but... I just can't. It's easier for me to write for an hour a feeling filled letter to someone I don't even know (no offense) than to just go downstairs and speak with the people who are supposed to be my family. And this is the problem. I want to get out of this nasty situation but am too... scared?... of... nothing! I don't know how to do this, how to force myself to speak to others and I need your advice if you have one.
I'm sorry for these confusing letters and also for my writing which is probably even worse than it was in the first letter since I'm not in the best of my form right now... you know, snot and tears all over the keyboard'n'stuff...
So, thank you for your patience and sorry for racking your brain with my problems.
P.S.: On the bright side I now know what animal my fursona would be... a clam. It's gonna be fun fursuiting that.
* * *
To paraphrase Shrek, your letter is like an onion, having several layers. First you start of with this problem that you can’t find a hobby to enjoy, then, digging deeper, we learn you have problems interacting with peers and family, and digging still deeper, self-esteem issues.
Your letter indicates self-esteem issues, which, for instance, make you self-critical of any efforts you make to draw or write or do something creative. Poor self-esteem often stems from how one is raised. You say you, apparently, have family that is caring, and yet you cannot talk to them.
Whatever happened four years ago that drove the rest of your so-so friends away might have just been the straw breaking the camel’s back, a back already heavily weighed down by other psychological burdens that have caused you to withdraw into yourself.
The good news is that you recognize the loneliness you have created for yourself is not a pleasant shell to hide in. (That you want to be a “clam” is quite telling). But your approach of forcing yourself to talk to people and be more extroverted won’t work because you are treating the symptom and not the cause.
For you to get out of your shell, you are going to need to find the central cause of what lead you down this path in the first place. I hope I don’t sound like a broken record when I suggest that a bit of counseling could help you to find what deep down inside of you is really bothering you. You need to approach your problem from the inside out, not outside in.
Feel free to write again, Lolity, and let me know your further thoughts.
Dear Papa Bear,
Hello again. So my question this time is how do you make friends and then meaningful, lasting friendships?
I ask because I typically seem incapable of getting close enough to people to go from an acquaintance to a friend and never seem to become close friends with said friends. That covers the meaningful part, as for the lasting part. I rarely have lasting friends because either we drift apart and lose contact or I unintentionally hurt them and wind up being hated by them.
And I know the standard way is to simply talk to people and get to know them, but I'm a terrible conversationalist and any talks seem to be superficial if they don't just die outright. And I understand the concept of practicing to get better, but I've been trying for years to no avail in that regard.
* * *
Hi, again, Thief,
Have you read Dale Carnegie's famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People?
* * *
No I have not, but if I go by the reviews it seems to be less about making friends and more about just getting people to like you to succeed career-wise. I'm more than capable of getting people to like me, at least it's easier in person as opposed to online, but I just can't connect with them to form friendships. Or am I wrong about my assumption of the book?
* * *
Well, the book is mostly about getting along with people, not being nervous meeting them, how to get them to like you and so forth. Most of it is common sense. Papabear used to be very shy, too, and here is what I learned about getting to know people and make friends:
That's pretty much it. If you do those three things, you will make friends.
* * *
This is good, sound advice. Thank you. However, unfortunately that is what I do. But I don't seem to connect enough with others to transition from acquaintance to friend.
* * *
Forgive me if I asked you this already in one of your other letters, but do you suffer from Aspergers or any other social anxiety disorder?
* * *
Dear Papa Bear,
You have not asked me that. Though, I have never been diagnosed with any social anxiety disorder, Asperger's or Autism, etc. Granted just because I have not been diagnosed with it does not mean I don't have one I suppose.
* * *
Well, it might be worth looking into. It could just be, too, that you are meeting the wrong people in the wrong place. A quality friendship starts with two quality people. Even if you do all the right things, if you're meeting people who aren't good friend material, you're going to strike out.
But one way that two people can become close friends is to go through some kind of trial together in which they have to combine forces to overcome an obstacle. This is rather a cliche, actually, that you often see in hokey movies, but it can be true in real life. Not suggestion you create an artificial crisis and drag someone into it to make them your friend, but that is one way it happens.
Mostly, though, you need to find people with whom you have something (or things) in common. Not just a hobby, but something really important or bonding, like a similar experience in life or a passion for a cause or a skill.
And that's about all the advice I have on that topic. Being nice to other people has always worked for me.
I’ve been in the fandom for a few years now, and now I seem to be running into a bit of a problem.
I’ve been drawing on and off for a few years, used to get a few comments, but now it has really dropped off to 0 - 2 comments per submission even though I am giving it my all. Even with photos I am posting as well comments have dropped off with well nearly everything I posted or wrote in a journal.
It also seems that way at AC since I do fursuit and not many photos, or anything, I am unsure if people are avoiding me or what. But I guess I need some sort of advice.
* * *
Well, I looked on your FA page, and it lacks commission information, so adding that could be helpful to you. There are ways, too, to be proactive about getting the interest up on your art. You can:
1) Create Facebook and Twitter pages and post whenever you have a new artwork available.
2) If you do work for sale, occasionally, offer a free furry badge commission to “the first caller,” so to speak. Or run a “sale” on your work.
3) Join artist discussion groups on Facebook or furry sites like SoFurry, Furry4Life, Furtopia, FurAffinity, FurNation, Yiffstar, etc.
4) Finally, remember that the furry artist talent out there is getting better and better every year. The more I watch artists online and find new artists, the more I have been impressed with their skills. You are in a very competitive world now, and you need to practice your art as much as possible, improving every day.
Some people make the mistake that all they have to do is post their art and people will find them and comment. You really need to be more aggressive than that. Make your name a real presence in the furry fandom by actively discussing your work and the work of others, and you will find people clicking through to your FA page to find out what your work is like.
Hope this helps! Good luck!
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