I've been a follower of your site for a while, and I've just had this issue that's nagged me for quite a while.
So, I got into the whole furry culture when I was pretty young, and I remember an author that I got pretty into about when I was finding things out. Kyell Gold. So, he wrote this pretty cool book series, "Aquifiers," which I thought was great and cool and awesome.
Too awesome, though. I read the book when I was young and impressionable, and later in my life, I started feeling lackluster because I'd begun comparing myself to this book. I'd begun to wonder if there was something wrong with me, because I hadn't experienced X or Y like the main character in that book did, or if I wasn't going through the same experience as this certain character did, and if that indicated something wrong with me.
I get little reminders of that book sometimes. Like a lyric of a song, or a certain picture, or a scene, and I'll think back to all the imagined experiences that I missed out on, and I'll just be so glum and sad. I know it's unhealthy and irrational to compare my IRl life with that of a fictional one, but I just can't help it. My life is fine and okay and, rationally, there's nothing that I should be feeling especially sad about, but I still do.
Anyway, my big tiff with this all of this is that I don't feel like I can progress with my life, because I keep having these feelings of shame over these imagined instances that I missed out on. Did I just imprint on this book at too early an age, and I'm just fucked, or should I just try to forget things?
You're a good fella.
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Before I continue, a little more information would be helpful. What, exactly, do you feel you have missed out on? What is there in the book that you envy and wish to achieve? In short, what is the disconnect between what you find in the book and what is going on in your life?
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Okay, so, the main character both falls in love and realizes his passion for his career his senior year of high school. I know it's this grossly idealized version of real life, but I just feel embarrassed over not having met someone yet, or how I'm still fumbling around over what I want to spend my life doing. I think all of it boils down to younger me, after having read that book and internalizing it, setting myself on this "Perfect Road" to happiness, and the gradual frustration over real life not matching this vision in my head.
I wrote you a long while ago and you mentioned this term I hadn't seen before. Weltschmerz. This sort of overall weariness over reality not being comparable to the desired or imagined life. That seems kind of fitting.
Anyway, thanks for the reply. This is kind of a weird issue for me to try and find support for.
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The idea of Weltschmerz still applies, and I'm sorry if my last letter to you didn't have the effect of sinking in. My advice would be the same: the world of novels and movies and television are idealized versions of reality. Even the ones that are about tragedy tend to make that tragedy idealized and even romantic (e.g. Les Miserables), because the people who suffer in them tend to have noble goals and purposes so that even their horrible stories have meaning for their lives and the lives of others.
As furries, our hearts often long for worlds where we can become amazing warriors, or lovers, or crime fighters, or simply live in a beautiful fantasy environment of some kind. But we recognize (hopefully) that these things are not real.
So it is with even a simple stories of finding love, such as the one you mention by Kyell Gold.
Every person's story is unique. Some people find love early on, some later in life. At 51, Papabear has had two and is working on a third: my first love whom I married at the young age of 22, my second whom I met in my 40s, and now this one. One thing about love: it is never too late to find it. As long as your heart is beating, you can find the love of your life. Here is a fun article you might enjoy on that topic.
I've said this to others who write to me, too, and not just about love. Many are frustrated about their careers or just not being able to find their bearings in life. One thing that I find true, especially among young Americans, is that they are too damn impatient. They act like it is all over if they haven't achieved their life goals by the time they are 25. Part of this is our materialistic, youth-worshipping culture that lies to us that "we can have it all" in our twenties and that you are a big loser if you haven't yet.
Don't you buy it. It's all a lie created by Corporate America to make you buy stuff and enrich the top 1%. They tell you you can only be happy if you have all the latest electronic gizmos, own a great house, get married and have kids and have a huge salary. It is all designed to make you a tool. Don't believe me? What do you do when you feel depressed that you haven't found the love of your life yet? Buy food? Booze? Romantic movies? Seek counseling? Go back to school to earn a fancier degree to get a better job to make you more suited as a mate? Buy nice clothes? All these things buy into the system if you do them for the wrong reasons (keeping up with the Joneses, we used to say).
I cannot stress this enough: don't compare your life to other people's lives, and certainly don't compare it to fiction or to the pressures of a neurotic society.
What is important in life is not money or things or even having a true love. What is important is becoming a self-actualized and enlightened being who knows who and what he/she is and who is a caring individual. These are the only things worth striving for. All else is vanity.
That said, I certainly do not dismiss our inherent need to be loved and to love in return. Love is still important. But the more you stress about it, the less likely it is to happen because any potential mates around you will sense that desperation, which is very off-putting (you have no idea). Instead, work on yourself. Work on being a good, kind, and worthwhile person.
If you do that, all the other things in your life will eventually fall into place. Just be patient.
I don't know if you remember me, specially with the new name, but maybe my email will remind you.
You helped me become a whole person, to get out of an abusive relationship that scarred me for life, and to begin to love myself.
I took a huge step in recovery last week by finally closing the book on that ex you saved me from years ago. It was scary, a bit upsetting to see him living so happily after destroying me, but I felt a million times lighter and content.
Unfortunately the same day I lost someone very close to me in a very ugly way. I was standing up for my other friends when he was acting out of line, and the things he said ... all I could see was the words flying out of the shitty people in my lives mouths.
He was a totally different person, he didn't care about any of us, he accused me of so many things and took my most personal and fragile parts I trusted in him and used them as knives against me.
I already lost a major portion of my friend group last year due to us growing apart so I'm down to less than 10 friends.
I'm scared, papa bear. I've seen what he's done to people in the past. We were never close but we were growing closer until he just ... snapped. I changed all my passwords but I'm so, so terrified he's going to find the one place I didn't or he's going to spread stuff about me just like his old friends and exes from years past.
I JUST healed from my ex doing that to me.... I can't bear to go through it again with someone I knew and trusted and loved for over 10 years.
And now I might have to move and leave what few friends I have left behind. We're not close enough to keep in touch and I'd have to move back into the house where my exs abuse happened.
I don't know if I can....
I don't know what to do. I'm so afraid I'll loose my irl friends and my online ones will follow. I'm so afraid my future friends will have my ex friend fill their heads with bullshit. I'm so afraid to have to live in that house again but it's beginning to be my only option.
I just.... Do you have any advice on how to strengthen friendships, make new friends, and live without fear of being sabotaged?
If I can strengthen the friendships I have and make new ones I won't have to be so afraid, but I can't comprehend relationships and how to meet people.
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Forgive me if I'm repeating myself. I thought I had responded to this letter but now I'm not sure if I did. So, I'm writing again (or for the first time!) Forgive a senile old bear....
Since you don't provide any background, I cannot guess why this other "friend" would snap and suddenly attack you. But this makes two toxic people who have come into your life, which makes me wonder if perhaps you are having difficulty determining what sorts of people are good friend material and what sorts of people are toxic. The other side of this is that you seem to also have trouble realizing who isn't toxic (i.e., true friends).
Hon, true friends will always stick by you and will not listen to the venomous lies spouting from the mouths of toxic people. If you lose any friends because of some lying jerk, then they weren't good friends to begin with and you are better off without them. In fact, this might be a litmus test to determine for you who are your friends and who are not, so that might turn out to be a good thing. Don't worry about it.
One thing Papabear has learned in his 50+ years is to not worry a damn about what other people think. If you know in your heart you are a good person who tries to do the right thing, then that is all that matters. Again, the people who are wise and not shallow will perceive this goodness in you and want to be your friend. Treat your friends well (that's how you strengthen friendships) and shun your enemies. And if you are concerned about your passwords or anything, just make it a routine to change your passwords once a month. If you get attacked online, inform that website's administrators. Keep records of any harassment you get from toxic people.
Making new friends? Big topic, but, in brief, look for people who share your interests and take an interest in their lives. You should expect the same from them. The danger is always one-way "friendships," which aren't so much friendships as people using you. With practice and experience, you will develop a kind of sixth sense about other people. I quickly get a feeling about others as to whether or not they are worth my time. The ones who aren't exude a kind of "creepy" vibe that makes me back off right away. You'll get better at this as time goes on.
Strengthening friendships you currently have mostly involves doing your best to make time to work on the friendship. The more time you spend with someone, the stronger the relationship will become.
As for the fear of being sabotaged: hey, it happens. Even when you get good at judging other people, occasionally a troll or, let's face it, psychopath will weedle themselves into your life. All you can do is cut them off as soon as you recognize them for what they are beneath the mask. Control your fear by realizing that shit happens and you can't prevent it from happening, but you CAN control how you react to said shit and this will make you a stronger person.
I'm in a relationship that I would describe as stable and really makes the both of us happy, but recently we've had a bit of a falling out. It started with my first impressions of one of his friends, basically overseeing his rant concerning transgenders, for the sake of accuracy he referenced them as 'dumbasses who get upset easily and deserve to die.' I was annoyed by the whole thing but chose to not say anything as I didn't see the conflict being worth it.
Hours later my mate was depressed and was trying to vent and I advised him to be cautious where he stayed and who he was with, as he's trying to find a temporary place to stay and his previous company had abused him. The friend in question had offered to let my mate stay with him a while back and made a passive aggressive response to that advice I had given, seeing it as an attack against him and I had responded in a very dismissive manner as I wasn't in the mood for arguments.
Days after all of this, both my mate and his friend are upset with me because I had an issue with how the guy was acting and the violent words he would easily pass around. Both of them are trying to state that my impressions of him are wrong and that him being dyslexic is a reason to excuse everything negative that he says, I disagree with this as well. To others I'd imagine that this seems like a small issue, but I feel like it's really crippled our relationship, with my mate ignoring me a bit and indirectly stating that he trusts his friends over me now. I was wondering, how I would go about trying to repair our relationship and get past this?
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Well, first of all, being dyslexic does not cause people to say nasty things such as hoping transgender people die. Dyslexia is simply a condition that makes it difficult to read and interpret other symbols such as numbers. Therefore *annoying buzzer sound*--ech! Wrong!
What is even more concerning is that your mate trusts his friends over you. If you are his mate, you should be the one he trusts and cherishes the most. You take precedence over other friends. If that is no longer true, then, by default, you are no longer his mate but are actually lower in priority than his other friends. This is made even more apparent by his ignoring you on occasion.
If I were you, I would have a sit-down with him and tell him that if you are no longer a priority and if he likes his friends more than you, then it's over.
I being a huge fan of Robin Hood have this to say since my favorite character is the sheriff of Nottingham and I often dream about him, which includes binging with him and getting massive fat beyond compare: Does this make me a pervert?
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There are a couple definitions for the word “pervert”: 1) to distort or corrupt the original meaning of a thing; 2) someone whose sexual behavior is considered abnormal or unacceptable. The first definition doesn’t apply to you; the second actually depends upon the society that you keep.
If one is talking about mundane society, then everything that furries like regarding sex would be defined as perverted because it is not “normal” (whatever the heck that means). So, yes, you’re a pervert.
So am I.
If one defines sex as having to be a man and woman knowing each other biblically only in the missionary position for the sake of procreation, how boring is that?
But if you are talking about living within furry society, you’re practically white bread.
People who are creative and experimental in their sexual activities will have much more fun and have more satisfying sex than those who do not. As long as it is between consenting adults (and if you’re just looking at stuff online that is not relevant either) and you are not hurting anyone, do whatever pleases you.
Papabear (who also has the hots for the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood)
I'm sort of having a problem. You see I really like anthro animals. Mostly foxes or cartoon ones though. I draw them too. But I'm not sure if this means I'm a furry or not.
I don't really consider myself a furry but someone that likes anthro animals.It's not that I'm against furries. I actually think most are kind and misunderstood.
But I really don't know if I should consider myself one or not. Thanks for taking time to read this.
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It depends on what you mean by being a furry. At its most basic level, all it means is that you enjoy art, cartoons, movies, etc. that include anthropomorphized animal characters in them. Since you like furry foxes and also like to draw them, that would make you someone who is a fan of furries.
The other side of it is the entire lifestyle of the fandom: going to cons and meets, being active in online communities, perhaps having a fursuit. That's all part of the fun, but just because you like anthro foxes doesn't mean you have to do any of this if you don't want to.
So, it's really up to you. You can call yourself a furry (technically, the appropriate term is "furry fan," because only actual anthros are furries) and you would not be incorrect. Or you can decide not to call yourself that.
You define you. No one else.
Hope that answers your question.
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.