This is a pretty large and complex question which needs some serious explanation to set up. I hope you don't mind.
I'm 29 going on 30. I've been in the fandom since I was in high school, so I guess that makes me an old hand. Right now my life has been completely tumultuous at best, and I really need some advice as to how to make what is likely one of the most important decisions in my life.
I've been closely involved with my mother and stepfather since about the time I started in the fandom. I've worked in their business until they had to let me go in February. While I haven't lived with them in ten years, I've lived in rental properties owned by them for almost the same amount of time (after moving in with a friend and getting stuck in a bad situation as a result). I understand this isn't the healthiest situation to be in, and it's in the process of blowing up in my face.
My mother is divorcing my stepfather; a decision I support wholeheartedly due to several instances of physical abuse toward both her and I over the years. She reconnected with an old flame of hers and is leaving to be with him in the next few months. He is an amazing guy and has become more of a father figure to me within the past year than my biological father and current stepfather ever have. He lives out of state, but in an area of the country where most of my extended family reside.
I've been unemployed since February, as I stated earlier. Jobs are extremely hard to find where I live; ones I'm physically and mentally capable of doing are nearly impossible. The job situation where my mother is moving is pretty decent and it's almost guaranteed I could get into a career field I've been wanting to get into for years. There's also some very good schools I could attend, and at least on the surface it's a no-brainer as to where to go.
It's not that simple. I'm writing this the day I got back from a local furcon. This is my second year in attendance, and it was simply an amazing experience. Last year I met someone who quickly became my best friend and most trusted confident. This year I met many more friends through her, some of which live very close by. It's very hard to describe the reception I felt at the con. I was in a building with close to a thousand other people, and it felt like I could go up to any one of them at random and just start talking. I had conversations with total strangers which lasted hours. Nobody snubbed me. Nobody ignored me. I shook the hands of more than a few well-known artists and writers of the fandom, and got a heartfelt thanks when I told them how much of a positive influence their creations were for me. For someone who has so much trouble talking to others and has a horribly hard time making friends in non-fandom circles this is such an amazing experience. Like last year I was sad to leave.
Because I'm losing my house, my best friend (the one I met at the con) has offered to take me in temporarily. The original plans were to stay for a few months while I got my act together and move away. Now I'm not so sure. I feel like I'm being forced to choose between a good job, education, and a solid financial foundation or the personal and social fulfillment I've been missing my entire life. I prefer to socialize inside the fandom because this is what I am. While I obviously can function outside of it, I've noticed my friendships and potential relationships are quite flat. I have such a large interest and enthusiasm for the fandom that having to hide it around more 'mundane' people makes me feel like an artificial person. My non-fandom friends don't 'get it at best and are openly hostile of the fandom at worst. My former coworkers met a few of my fandom friends and were quite snarky about them behind their backs. It pains me to be around these sorts of people when I've received nothing but acceptance and friendliness at the cons and furmeets I've been to.
I would be moving to a more old-fashioned, conservative, religious area of the country. I'm not going to talk about my political views or anything like that, but it will be a culture shock despite technically being a native to those parts. Furthermore there are very few people in the fandom where I'll be going to, and the best I have is kind of an “arms-length” friendship with one of them. I feel like its going to be very hard to establish myself there outside of my family. I'm also going to have to leave several potential good friends behind just after meeting them. As a footnote I would like to add that both my mother and soon-to-be new stepfather know about the fandom and my participation in it, and both are amazingly supportive and accepting of my interests.
I guess what I need advice on is what is the best decision? I feel like I'm going to be losing out on something big no matter what I choose, and I'm not sure where to turn. what do you think?
* * *
We all love that chocolate cake and ice cream with a milkshake, but know that we should eat the fish with a side of vegetables and a glass of lowfat milk first. I’ve run into a lot of furries who choose fun over doing what is practical. For instance, some furries buy video games and other toys instead of paying bills; another doesn’t help his roommates pay rent because he uses every dime to pay for a storage unit that houses his fursuits and plush toys.
I’m not saying you’re behaving the same way, exactly. A social life is a very important thing. It makes us happy, makes us feel needed and cared about, and makes us psychologically more healthy.
But here is the gist of what I am thinking. Education is very important for your future, and if the best option for that education is to move to where your mom is, then that really should take precedence over being in an area where socializing with furries is optimal. While this will be hard, you should think of this as only a temporary situation until you have completed a degree, which will open up new opportunities for you that will benefit you greatly. At that point, you can focus on finding a place that is both a good place to work AND has easy access to furry friendliness. You have to look to the future in this case, even though it will be difficult. It's too bad there isn't a good school in the area of your preference (none at all?) because that would have been much better, but life isn't perfect. The good news is that you have a supportive mom and stepdad, which is something to be very thankful for.
On the one paw, then, is a place where you have a chance for an education, a job, and to be closer to a loving mom and awesome stepdad; on the other paw is a place where you have easier access to furiends. When it comes down to the math, it is a 3-to-1 score. The smart thing to do is to endure a less-than-optimal temporary situation in order to optimize the chances for a brighter future.
Remember, few things are permanent. Once your life improves with work and education, you should have more chances to move to a place where you are close to furries. On the other hand, if you stay where you are for the sake of being near furries, you may find yourself with no education, no job, and no money, which, in turn, means no money for furcons and no means to live, except maybe by mooching off other furries, which, believe me, gets old quick and will never last long.
I think the choice is, indeed, clear. What do you think?
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