I don't know if this question really applies to you...but here ya go!
So I have depression, and occasionally I get into a very sad or mellow mood, but my friends usually think I am mad at them so they stay away from me rather than actually try to talk to me and ask me what's wrong. This happened today, when one of my friends asked me if I was mad at them and I said no, after they have proceeded to shun me the entire day. Is it because of my body language or what?
Amber (age 18)
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Thanks for your letter. I am intimately acquainted with the problems associated with depression. Quick question first: are you receiving any kind of treatment for your ailment?
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Yes, I am currently on Lexapro, though it's a really small dosage.
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Okay, Amber, just wanted to be sure, first, that you were seeking some sort of treatment.
There are two basic causes of depression, as you may know: one is physiological, the other is caused by life events. In the former, a person becomes depressed because there is something amiss with their body chemistry. This can result from many factors: thyroid problems, adrenal gland problems, fibromyalgia, viral infections, brain tumors, stroke, Parkinson's disease, and on and on. This is why it can be important to see a good psychiatrist (rather than psychologist) who has medical training. The other cause of depression is a negative life event (death in the family, divorce, bad news about a disease, being bullied in school) or problems with one's behavior (drug or alcohol addiction, bad dietary and exercise practices, sleep deprivation, overwork, and so on).
In the former case, there is really no advice you can get from friends that will help. You have a medical condition. In the latter case, it kind of only works if a friend has been through the same thing you have. Even so, everyone reacts to bad life events in different ways, and what works for one person might not for another. For example, people kept telling me to go to group therapy for widowers, so, finally, I went. Didn't help at all. In fact, it made me feel worse, so I stopped going.
The thing about friends and family of those suffering from depression is that most people don't know how to handle themselves around people like you and me. We make them uncomfortable because they don't know if they can comfort us or if saying something might offend us or make matters worse. Now, in your case, it sounds as if your friends misinterpret your depression for being sullen and angry. Have you actually told them you suffer from depression? Just saying, "No, I'm not angry at you," is not really enough because they still don't know what is wrong. They might think you're lying and really are angry.
So the first step is to tell your friends what your problem really is and that you have medication for it (there's no shame in this; many people are in the same boat as you). If they come up to you and ask if they can do anything, tell them that the best thing they can do to help you is to be with you, keep you company, perhaps some hugs would be nice. If you're like me and many others, getting "advice" from people who might be well-intentioned but seriously do not understand what you are going through can be very irritating and annoying. As I always say, if you don't know what you're talking about, the best thing you can do is shut up.
But you don't need their advice. What you need is some normalcy and companionship in your life. Having your friends shun you and isolate you is going to make you feel worse, as you already know. You need to reconnect to your friends.
To do this, wait until you're in a pretty good mood and not in one of your dark moods. Talk to your friends during this time. Explain to them frankly what you are going through and give them the heads up that sometimes you may be a bit hard to deal with, but that when that happens you hope that they could come and give you a hug and try to lift your spirits by just being there for you. Tell them you don't expect them to try and solve your problems--you are working on that yourself--but you still need them in your life.
I am going to be handing out candy for Halloween and was wondering what is the safest way to go about doing this with the kids and my fursuit?
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Good question! And I better post this now since it is almost time!
Halloween is a great time to fursuit. I've done it several time, handing out candy at my house. The thing about fursuiting at night is that it can be very difficult to see. Also, it can be hard handing out little candies when you are wearing forepaws.
So, the solution is that you should always do this with one or more non-suiters with you. It's kind of like having a handler when you are at a furcon or furmeet. In the case of Halloween, the handler will actually handle the candy and make sure you don't stumble into anything or anyone in the dark. The fursuiter doesn't worry about the candy thing and, instead, you focus on interacting with the trick or treaters.
Apply the same rules to interacting with trick or treaters as you would if you were at a convention. That is, first, do not approach little kids on your own but let them come to you if they wish to interact. Kids, especially little ones, can actually be a bit overwhelmed or even scared of a fursuit, even one that is not scary (the same way some kids freak out about Santa Claus). This is because you're very large and look strange to them. That's really the minority, though. Most kids will be delighted to see you and you will often get compliments from the adults about your cool "costume."
Other tips: keep water available (usually in plastic travel mug with long strong); if your handler has to go inside to use the restroom, go in with them because you don't want to be out there by yourself; when interacting with little ones, it can be helpful to squat down or kneel down to try and be more at their level, which makes you a bit less intimidating.
Hope this helps! Have a splendiferous Halloween!
When I found your website I was absolutely thrilled, because I've been wanting to ask this for a while. My parents have always been cautious of what I do on the internet, from my point of view it seems like they think that everyone on it is probably a 60 year old pedophile.... But I've managed to sneak it, I have a FA account that I use regularly. I'm thinking if they knew about my FA they'd probably make me get rid of it, and then research what a Furry is. Finding out, like most parents, the internet description of it is "a sex-crazed fandom." I don't want this, that's why I've been keeping it from them for so long. But lately I've really wanted to commission some art from some of my favorite artists, and send things to some of my good friends I've made. I don't know how to go about telling them that I'm a Furry and that I've really been wanting to commission some of my favorite artists.
*My dad tends not to be too accepting towards different things, he would probably think I'm a weirdo if I told him. My mom would probably just be concerned for my internet safety.
Kodi (age 13)
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I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to use your letter as a jumping-off point for a topic that has been slowly evolving in my mind since I began writing this column, and, more recently, as I've begun researching my book about the fandom.
As you and everyone reading this knows, there are two sides of the furry fandom: one is innocent, playful, and imaginative, the other one is much much more mature. Papabear understands that people such as yourself (and there is a growing number of them) are not interested (well, most aren't) in the sexy side of fur. They just want to have fun imagining themselves as their fursona having adventures with their friends in fantastic realms.
How did this bad reputation develop in which people see furries as, well, perverts?
The beginnings of the modern fandom were deliberately aimed at adult audiences. Back in the 1980s, when what I will call the Founding Furries began to meet at sci-fi conventions, they were discussing how they enjoyed talking animal characters but that all the stuff being created about them (comic strips, cartoons) was for children. What they wished to do was create stories, magazines, illustrations with anthros that were aimed at adult audiences.
Now, by this I don't mean X-rated, necessarily. Rather, they were stories that allowed for adult themes, such as more violence, political and social themes, and, yes, more erotic stuff (however, the erotic stuff tended to be part of the story, not just porn) to be addressed. A classic example of this is the "Omaha: The Cat Dancer" series by Reed Waller and the late Kate Worley. The stories in this series involved organized crime, gay themes, corrupt politicians, romance, and, yes, some love scenes. It was not pornography, but it was definitely not for children, either. Another, somewhat more recent, example is the "Blacksad" series by the extremely talented Spanish team of Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido featuring a title character that is a black cat who is a P.I. and gets into all kinds of ugly situations. The Arctic Nation issue deals brilliantly with the topic of racism, for instance.
Both of these series--and many others--are quality works of fiction. Neither of them would I recommend to a 13 year old such as yourself to read.
Over time, the media and mundanes (those outside the fandom) became obsessed by the sexual imagery in some of these works. Indeed, more and more artists began drawing furry porn. This was not really the original intent of the fandom, but in many ways it has evolved in that direction.
Because of this, I must regrettably come to the conclusion that the fandom is really not intended for the under-18 crowd such as yourself. (Don't give up on me yet, read on....)
Your parents are concerned about you and what you might find on the Internet. This is actually very correct and proper for them to do. As parents, they should be involved in what you view online. I know, you think you are aware of all the bad stuff that is online (and, no, I am not saying everyone out there is a pedophile--that certainly is not true), but there are a lot of bad people online, Kodi. People who try to take advantage of others, either for money or sex or just to be mean. And some of them are furries.
What I would like to do is recommend to you some great works of fiction for you to read. These are not "furry" books in that they weren't written by furries, but they certainly do have what you are looking for. Here's is my reading list. Let's call it:
Papabear's Reading List for Aspiring Furries
I'm not sure how sophisticated you are as a reader, but the above books range in age and you will likely find something. All of the writers listed above are extremely gifted and I'm sure you'll fall in love with their characters (if you haven't read some of these already).
Of course, there are many movies and TV shows with furry characters for you to enjoy, including, notably, the very recent Zootopia and the Kung Fu Panda films.
The reason I am talking to you about all of the above is that these are all ways for you to enjoy anthropomorphic characters in fiction that is considered "mainstream." You are not going to be given any grief from Mom or Dad if you read The Wind in the Willows.
All of the above is, however, neglecting the social side of furry. I'm sure a big reason that you are getting interested in furries is that you would like to chat with others who share your interests. You can actually do this, if you didn't know, by joining fan clubs of some of the works listed above. Certainly, there are fan clubs out there for all kinds of Disney and Pixar movies. If you type in any of the titles above and add "fan club" in a search engine, you will come up with interactive sites for those who share your love of these books and movies.
In addition, you can connect to friends your own age in your neighborhood and school and see if any of them are interested in anthros. If so, you might start your own little group of like-minded teens your age, meeting at one another's houses.
Like video games? Tons of games out there where you can be an anthro and have lots of fun, everything from Kung Fu Panda and Ratchet and Clank to Starfox and Yoshi. Want to create your own fursona? No reason why you can't. You don't need the furry fandom to do this.
The point is, there is plenty of stuff that is considered "mainstream" for you to enjoy before you venture into the adult world of the furry fandom. And you won't have to worry about hiding it from your parents (a behavior that is not conducive to gaining your parents' trust, by the way).
Can parents be unfair? Sure. Can they be a pain in the butt? Certainly. But please keep in mind that they love you and don't want you to be hurt. You are 13. You should not be entering the furry fandom world right now any more than you should walk into an auto dealership to purchase a car. That's for adults. But, don't worry, you will get there before you know it.
In the meantime, there is plenty of terrific stuff for you to enjoy. The books above are things I read at your age and prepared me to become part of the fandom later in life.
Hi Papabear, it’s Wolfthorne again.
I've been on a long arduous journey of accepting myself as gay, and while it has been a very weird if not interesting experience. Happiness is the most important thing for me, and I am in charge of my own happiness.
There is this one certain societal norm I have been trying to get over, though. And it involves terms of endearment, in this case, trying to understand the whole difference between cute and handsome.
When I was a child, my parents always called me handsome, and I suppose they called me cute at one point when I was a child. Nowadays, I've always seen myself as handsome. And usually I learned to associate cute with someone a person of the opposite sex would call me, not of the same sex.
I guess what I'm trying to tell you is that, whenever a man calls me cute—I can't explain it and I don't know why—but I get easily turned off by that word because: A) I'm afraid they're saying it because they're hitting on me and I usually respond with, "I prefer the term handsome, but thank you" just so I can turn them off back, and B) when a man calls me cute, it’s almost as if (pardon my French) they see me as their bitch or something.
What's even more confusing is that gay men USUALLY use the term for handsome in its general definition "a good looking person" (usually of a man). I, however, quote from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary which is not altogether inappropriate: "pleasing to look at; especially of a person: having a pleasing appearance that causes romantic or sexual feelings in someone."
And the definition USUALLY is associated for men. And if a man or woman were to call me that I'd have no problem. Cute, on the other hand: "attractive or pretty especially in a childish, youthful, or delicate way."
Makes me feel as if I'm almost not manly at all. Like I'm weak, or something easily tossed aside like a piece of trash, neither of which are true and I know this because I'm not a child, and I'm not delicate.
I look at myself, and I don't know if people mean handsome as a term for men who are burly or someone genuinely looks hot or if my parents called me handsome in a sense just to make me feel good about myself, or if they GENUINELY meant that, but I can't understand why I get turned off by it.
Is there any way that I can learn to not get turned off by the term "cute"? And what should I do if someone calls me that?
Wolfthorne (age 23)
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I have never seen a photo of you, so can’t judge whether you are “cute” or “handsome,” but either way these comments by others are meant as compliments, not in any way to denigrate you. Something you need to understand, Wolfthorne, is when you are among gay men, you are more likely to be complimented in terms that many would find more feminine. You can run into very butch-looking men, for example, who will call each other “girlfriend” or “sister.” Jim tried that on me a couple times and I told him to stop it because I don’t like being referred to in womanly terms. I’m a man, not a woman. So, I can understand you might object to being called “cute.” You’re a man, not a baby panda.
Because you are only 23, you might be subjected to the cute word more often. Yes, it is often applied to those with a more youthful appearance. But you don’t always have to be “delicate” or childish to be called cute. I think you’re reading too much into it. The times I have called someone cute, it was never to suggest someone was “a piece of trash.” If I wanted to do that, I would call them a slut or a skank LOL. In short, don’t be insulted, because I’m sure that those who call you cute mean it in a good way.
Now, if this happens again, don’t get mad, but you certainly can say something along these lines: “Thanks for the compliment, but I really don’t see myself as cute so much as devastatingly handsome.” And chuckle a bit and smile to show you are not offended and you’re just being facetious. Then, if you feel they merit it, give the other person a compliment back. If the only thing that is turning you off of a guy is that they used the word cute, you can easily get around that and begin striking up a conversation, maybe even get into some flirting that will turn you back on again. It would be a shame if you turned someone away just because of one poorly chosen word, would you not agree?
I am 18 years old and have a girlfriend, but I'm afraid I might be gay.
Let me explain: my girlfriend is the most wonderful person I have ever seen, I find her beautiful, attractive, kind and am thankful I can call her my friend. We have been very best friends for 4 years (I would call us soulmates) when things started to get serious and we got into a relationship. Everything was great, although I never had the "butterfly in my stomach feeling" the 6 months we've had together were the happiest in my life. Then I moved away (another country) for a 6-month exchange programme, so we are currently in a long distance relationship. We are considered the perfect couple by everyone, sometimes I feel like we are meant for each other and I actually can't (and don't want to) imagine a life without her.
Recently, I have realized that I notice guys way more than girls. Actually, thinking about it I always knew I was attracted to men. I've always behaved "different", been interested in rather feminine things and so on, yet I have never had anything with a guy. Although I knew about it when we got together, it never really striked me as important, I had no doubts and being together felt right. Now that I am so far away I am seeing what I'm really interested in, but I don't know if I'm gay or bisexual - which would also determine whether or not me and my gf can make the relationship work.
The thing is: on the street, I notice men way more, I find almost every guy sexually attractive (I catch myself looking at bulges all the time). I have watched gay porn and liked it, I have fantasized about classmates, but I never felt anything for any guy.
When I see pretty women on the street, I find them beautiful, somehow like "art", but I don't get sexually aroused (or at least not as much as with men). I can't remember really being sexually interested in women when I was younger the way my classmates were. But I have never with my girlfriend felt like I have to fake sexual interest, almost every time we made out, had any sexual interaction it felt great (of course there were exceptions but I guess they are somehow normal), and most of the time i even started - she never had to push me to do something. I felt always so good, natural and so right.
This confuses me a lot. Am I gay? Am I bisexual? If so, am I still bisexual enough to stay with my girlfriend?
The thing is: I am still very young and have a whole life in front of me, what I really want is my girlfriend to be happy and to be happy myself. I'm so afraid to one day when we are married realize "fuck I'm gay" and to destroy her and me emotionally.
I feel like I have to talk to her, but what do I say? I mean, If even I am confused, how is she supposed to understand anything at all.
Also, she is on the other side of the planet, it would have to be via skype...
This is something else I wonder about: does it have anything to do with being physically apart? Would I feel different If i was with her or will it feel different when I get back?
I have read a lot about the subject and i know there are options like mixed relation marriages and so on, but I really want to be sure about how I feel. It hurts to think that although it could work out, there might be someone else out there who could be a better boyfriend to her, who could have an easier relationship with her and who could love her entirely 100%, no doubts included.
The only thing I am sure about is that I want us to be happy and that I would love to go on having her as my girlfriend, I want to travel with her, I want to show her my home country and so on.
These days all I can think about is all of this, I wake up thinking "do I have to break up?" And feel very guilty - that also seems to be a sign: why would I feel guilty if nothing was wrong?
Especially regarding the fact that we are thinking about where to go to university to stay as close as possible makes this decision feel urgent, I don't want to attach her to something that has no future.
Dear papa bear, sorry for the long letter and thank you so much for being there and all of the support!
Anonymous (age 18)
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Based on what you have written here, yes, you are somewhere between straight and gay. Sexuality is a spectrum; where, exactly, you fall in the middle seems to be something you still need to work out. This is not at all unusual for someone your age.
The mistake you are making here is that you are laying all the burden of this decision on you and you alone. You don’t need to talk to me; you need to talk to her. This would best be done in person, but I’m not sure how long you are going to be away in a different country. Sounds like you plan to go back to her area of the world to attend college. Unfortunately, it would not be fair to her to make all kinds of plans about, say, attending the same university together, and only then tell her you are having second thoughts about your sexuality.
Therefore, it would be best if you talk to her now. You do not have to decide right this minute whether you are gay or bi, but you should tell her, frankly and sincerely, how you are feeling. Only then will you know how she feels (it could be anything from “it’s over” to “let’s work this out but still be together”). Once you have that information, you can make the decisions you need to make. Papabear went through what you’re going through—much later in life—and suffered in silence for four long years before finally confessing to my then-wife that I had discovered I was gay. It was a very hard time; we both cried a lot. In the end, we divorced but we are still friends to this day.
For all you know, your girlfriend could be having these struggles as well. If you talk honestly with her, you might learn she is bi or pansexual or a lesbian. You don’t know. Or you might learn that she is completely straight and she’ll decide that the two of you need to break off the romantic relationship. If that is the case, it is definitely best to tell her now. It is unfair to string her along in a serious relationship if it is not going to go anywhere. Also, this does not discount the possibility that the two of you can remain very good friends for years to come. Friendships—solid friendships—can be just as valuable as mates in your life.
Bottom line: this is not a one-sided decision in your case. It involves both of you. Therefore, you need to bring her into the dialogue and work this out together.
Sorry, I seem to be a boomerang, always coming back to ask questions. I'll try to keep this short. Hope you are doing well. So I work at a Vet Clinic and they work me to near absolute exhausted, I make the least about of money and they promised a raised but they never came through. I'm a really hard worker, coming on days off, never had a vacation. Do all the holidays. I know that they don't appreciate me as an employee and don't care what happens to me. I was in the hospital and the ER doctor got into a fight with them because they demanded I come in, but I had a head injury and couldn't. I'm extremely disappointed and sad about this, I always hoped to work in a place that cared about its people. Do I just accept that, this is a myth, really no company cares about its employees? That no matter where I go it will always be the same? I don't know if I should quit, won't it all be the same? I'm not even super sure what to expect from employers.
Galileo (age 27)
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As with people in general, everyone is different. There are good employers, and there are bad ones. Doesn’t sound like you have a good one, but that doesn’t mean they are all bad. If I were in your situation, I would not be happy with an employer who gets mad that I didn’t go in to work when I’m in the ER with a head injury. That’s ludicrous.
My recommendation is this: do NOT quit your job … yet. Instead, start putting out feelers for a better job elsewhere. Scope out businesses you think might be good for you and see if you can talk to some of their employees. If you wish to remain in the veterinary clinic field, you can do a little research online, such as at http://www.usa-veterinarians.com/reviews. Customer reviews are a good indication of whether or not a business is good. In my experience, businesses that are good to their customers also tend to be good to their employees. For example, if an employee is cheerful and helpful to a customer, this is probably because they are happy at their job, which means they are likely happy with their bosses, too.
While you are doing this, be the best employee you can be at your current job. You do not want to burn your bridges—meaning if your current place of employment is dissatisfied with you, word can get around, even if they don’t write you a recommendation.
Be patient. Work deliberately and methodically as you do your research. Do not jump at the first opportunity, but check it out thoroughly. If you find someplace that looks like a needed improvement for you, give your two weeks’ notice and make plans for the move!
I'm not writing to you about me today, but rather my boyfriend. He's not a furry, but I figured that you might still be able to help us. So here's the swing of things: He's not happy with anything about his body, period. He said he feels unnatural. I think he's got body dysmorphia, because he's talked about hurting himself and other things like that. I'm just really concerned about him, and I don't know how to help. I've told him that he should talk to someone, but he lives in the southern area of the States (Louisiana), and doesn't feel that the response would be very good. Since you've been giving advice to lots of different people, I figured that you could give me some advice. Sorry in advance for any trouble.
Wreath (age 14)
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First, never apologize for "the trouble." That is what I am here for. Do you have a photo of him? What is his family life like? How is he doing in school? Is he sociable or does he keep to himself?
I will need much more information about your boyfriend. The following is from the Mayo Clinic website. Please look through it and get back to me on your thoughts...
Shame and embarrassment about your appearance may keep you from seeking treatment for body dysmorphic disorder. But if you have any signs or symptoms, see your health care provider or a mental health professional.
Body dysmorphic disorder usually doesn't get better on its own, and if untreated, it may get worse over time, leading to severe depression, anxiety and extensive medical bills, and may lead to suicidal thoughts and behavior.
CausesIt's not known specifically what causes body dysmorphic disorder. Like many other mental illnesses, body dysmorphic disorder may result from a combination of causes, such as:
Risk factorsCertain factors seem to increase the risk of developing or triggering body dysmorphic disorder, including:
ComplicationsComplications that may be caused by or associated with body dysmorphic disorder include, for example:
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Thanks for the quick response. I'm sorry, but I don't have a picture of him. As for his family life, as far as I know it's fairly good, with both parents and a supportive family. From my understanding he's got great grades and is fairly pleased with his work. Lastly, when it comes to friends and being sociable, offline he's very timid and quiet, but online is very outgoing. And concerning the article you sent me, some of the symptoms and complications do match (he has anorexia and depression, as well as social anxiety disorder). He's also teased quite a bit by his cousins, although if it's about his appearance I don't know. Anything else you need to know about him, and I'll tell you. Thank you so much for everything you do.
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Okay, well, if he has anorexia that would explain his bad body image, of course! I would suggest visiting this site https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/find-help-support to find some assistance with eating disorders.
A few years ago I found a great artist, and he's been my favorite artist, and a huge inspiration for me ever since then. I was only 10 when that happened, so I obviously wasn’t old enough to commission art from anyone at the time. I’m 13 now, and now that I'm old enough to get money here and there from whatever extra work I can do around the house, and I'm comfortable with my fursona (I haven't changed him in forever and I don’t plan to because I'm really happy with him), I feel like it’s about time to commission him. I saved up enough money, and asked my parents as soon as I noticed I had enough, but they said no? They've always been supportive when it comes to me being a furry, and an artist, and liking other people's art and stuff like that, but they said that buying art from him would be a waste of money. When I asked why they said because "you can't do anything with it but look at it (because it's digital art)". I tried explaining to them why people buy art of their characters, and how long I had been wanting to commission him, but they continued to say it was a waste of money. I then said it wasn't fair since I earned the money myself, but they said it was basically their money, since they paid it to me and I'm still a kid. I'm really upset, and confused on what to do. Should I keep trying to help them understand, or just wait till I'm old enough to have a real job? Or do something else? Thank you!!
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This is an excellent letter, and thanks for sending it (and sorry for the slow reply). Okay, so what we are dealing with here is, essentially, a verbal contract between you and your parents in which they pay you some money to do some chores around the house, and they agreed that the money is yours. However, they then apparently are under the impression that they can tell you how to spend it or not to spend it.
*Buzzer noise* Wrong-o! That is SUCH the wrong message to teach your child, which is essentially saying “We let you hold the money but it’s really still ours.” Sheesh. There are a number of articles online you can reference (for example, this one from KidsHealth) about how to handle allowances, which is basically what you are doing. Some parents give kids an allowance without asking anything in return; others pay an allowance for the kids doing chores around the house.
Now, what is the purpose of an allowance in exchange for chores? It should be for a couple of things, mostly as an instructional tool:
What I would suggest to you, then, is that you approach your parents and tell them you would like them to help you learn how to save and spend money wisely and that you would like to open an account at your local bank. Many banks have what is called a “teen bank account.” You will have to have a minimum deposit, but usually it is quite low, such as $25. Now, don’t let your parents fool you: in most cases, you do NOT need them to have their names on your account. Insist that the account be in YOUR name and your name only. BUT! Be completely open with the account. Promise them they can see your statements any time they wish. Do not hide your spending and saving habits from them as this will develop mistrust on their part, and you don’t want that. Finally, it must be understood by them that, once they give you money in exchange for chores as agreed upon, it is YOUR money, not theirs.
Next, talk to them about budgeting. Agree to a sensible plan in which you save a percentage of the money you make each year, BUT you also are allowed a certain percentage for discretionary spending. This means buying anything you wish that is fun. After all, part of the fun of having money is spending on toys, right? You can’t tell me your parents never spend money on something frivolous.
This brings us to the example of the art you wish to buy. They say you are wasting money on art because, “You can't do anything with it but look at it (because it's digital art).” I guess if that’s your attitude then a Picasso or a Monet is also a waste of money because you can only look at it. That’s just plain stupid. So it’s digital art? So what? If you wish, you could print it out on some nice photo-quality paper and frame it. Would that make it more legitimate? Plus, once you have this artwork of your fursona, you can use it over and over again: as a badge, as a shirt (you can print things easily on shirts these days, or anything else that matter, such as a phone case or an ornament), you can use it as an avatar, and on and on. Endless uses for the art. And, most importantly, it makes you happy. If they are truly supportive of you being a furry, then they should be made to understand that an avatar of your fursona is very important.
If you are still having problems with this, then I would suggest you find an income from another source, such as raking lawns, shoveling snow, doing odd jobs for your neighbors, and so on. Then they definitely cannot pull the “it’s really our money” baloney on you.
Hope that helps.
First I want to say how much I have enjoyed reading through your past letters and responses. The advice you give helped me answer a lot of questions that were arising inside of me.
Well, recently I came to the conclusion that I wanted to be part of the furry community. I'd always had a touch of furry inside of me, knowing about the top webcomics like Kevin and Kell, Fur Will Fly, and The Class Menagerie. I've always loved anthros, coming more from the Disney and Sci-Fi school of thought like the OG generation, and my favorite novel series are Brian Jacques "Redwall" books, which were a huge influence on me wanting to be a writer.
I didn't keep up with pursuing the fandom in high school sadly. It wasn't the perceived social stigma, so much as I was not aware of anyone else I could talk with about the fandom and my interest laid dormant from graduation, through college, and through post collegiate life. I did encounter furs in college, but they were more ... exclusive, we will say ... about who they accepted and once again my interest retreated back inside.
Well, a couple months ago I befriended several people with ties to a different fandom who happen to be furries and I found myself remembering my old interest and fun at the anthro art and comics. I started diving a little deeper than I had since I was a kid, and learned about many top people in the community, and even for the first time discovering there is a literary side to it that is as healthy as the art. This intrigued me a lot...I've always fashioned myself as a writer, and even though I have a degree in photography too writing was my first love but it fell away, as no new ideas came to me and I fell into a creative funk that became mild depression. Couple that with anxiety disorder in a high-stress work place, the depressive nature of the news, and other factors in my personal life, and I consider my furry friends lifesavers for my sanity and creativity. I found that spark again to write and currently am having my first go at an anthro story. I have a novel outlined I'd like to attempt to but I'm digressing from the main point.
My question is that I'm ready to accept my furriness and embrace it, but will I be thought of as another "wannabe" trying to be something they're not? I'm still terrified after the snub I got in college that coming into the community after being an outsider for so long I'll be looked at as some sort of poseur (no fursona to speak of and not yet a member of any furry social media). The fandom is something I want to involve myself in and be part of the community and bring what talents I have to help keep it alive. The friends I do have have been accepting, which gives me hope that once I make myself known more, that those fears will fall away. But in the back of my mind, I still have those self-sabotaging doubts.
Thank you in advance for reading this and I hope I was not a rambling bore.
Best regards and best of health,
Rakkety Tam (age 29)
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Hi, Rakkety Tam (love that name—how’d you come up with it?),
I completely understand this letter in many ways. As a writer myself, for example, I get what you are going through in attempting your first novel. I also understand the fear of not being accepted by the furry community, especially as an older furry. The times I’ve been to the Prancing Skiltaire party, for example, I felt like the complete outsider because it was nothing but young people (well, couple of older ones, including the hosts, of course) and they already had their cliques and all that. I stopped going for that reason. It’s also why I started the Facebook Greymuzzle Group for furries 30 and older (contact us on your next birthday) so that older furries could chat with each other more comfortably.
That said, two things are true here (in my experience): as a whole, the fandom is accepting of pretty much anyone, regardless of age, sexual preference, nationality, race, religion, etc. etc. However, it is also true that local groups of furries form, and each group can have its own microculture. Sometimes that culture is open and accepting, sometimes it is elitist and cliquish. A lot of this depends on who becomes the “leader” of the group. Their character as people will generally define the nature of the group they run. I’ve had people write to me at this column singing the praises of their local furry groups, while others feel completely ostracized by theirs. That group you met in college was not one of the better ones, apparently.
Just because you had a bad experience there, though, doesn’t mean it’s like that everywhere in the fandom. Indeed, I would say the bad groups are in the minority. You yourself note that while that college furry group was not so inviting your other furry friends have been “life savers.” You just need to keep socializing with more furries and establishing your furiends network, which will evolve over time.
You’re not a “wannabe” at all, Rakkety. Indeed, in my experience it is more common to see younger furs who are poseurs and who later drop out of the fandom because they just did it to try something different. It’s the same reason many young people do things like coloring their hair purple or getting a nose piercing. They are trying to find themselves and their creativity, but this period ends for many people who become “adults” and drop their furry pursuits because they are “childish.” Probably way over half of the under-20 furries you see now will not be involved in the fandom after they get regular jobs and start raising families and paying taxes and worrying about their mortgages or rent.
If you are still a furry in your late 20s, 30s, 40s and onward, you are hardcore in my book. You are furry for life, not just because it’s cool or outrageous, but because you have a furry soul. Papabear considers you a furry in my book. And, even if I didn’t, who cares? You aren’t a furry to please other people but to please yourself. So, enjoy the art, the comics, the books, and good luck with your writing! (I’d love to see it!)
You’ll make friends, don’t worry.
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