Dear Papa Bear,
Ever since I started school, I always focused on the work more then anything. I always wanted to make my parents proud for all that they ever gave me. I didn’t even have that many good friends until high school, when I finally met a group. I was happy, but for college I decided to follow a full ride scholarship to a university states away. I thought it would be an easy adaptation and I would get many friends and good experiences here. But even without COVID-19, things have been rough.
With my experience here so far, I’ve struggled to make any friends in anything I thought I’d be remotely interested in, with me even joining a furry club. I haven’t felt a connection even close to the one I had with my friends back home, and at times even feel unwanted. While I can call my friends, I feel much more alienated to them the before, especially with me being the only one to go out of state for college. This feeling is starting to affect my drive for my grades, which is possibly a disaster, since I need to maintain a 3.5 to even keep my scholarship. Do you have any advice for not feeling so lonely when you’re having a really difficult time making connections?
Drew (age 20; live in Lincoln, NE for school; San Antonio, TX and Atlanta, GA for family)
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Different states, cities, countries have different cultures. One might think there would not be a big difference, culturally between Texas and Nebraska, but it kinda depends on the part of Texas. Now, you are from San Antonio, which is a pretty happening city. You also mention Atlanta, Georgia, which is very different as well. Nebraska is very rural, for the most part. Now, if you were from the Texas panhandle, for example, you might have a closer cultural tie to Nebraska. Lincoln, Nebraska, is very much a "college town," which also has a different feel from, say, a big city like Atlanta.
So, a guess I have is that there is a bit of a cultural difference going on here that might be interfering a bit with your efforts to make friends. Also, just in general, it can be a challenge to make new friends in a new town compared to a place in which you grew up. One suggestion would be to see if you could find some fellow students who are from San Antonio or Georgia. Might be a bit easier to connect.
While having a healthy social life is important, the main reason you are in Lincoln is for school--and congrats on your scholarship, by the way. I'm also guessing that, once you complete your degree, you're not going to stay in Lincoln. I could be wrong, of course. But even if you do stay where you are now, your peers will change once you get a job. You will be switching from college buddies to coworkers, and by then (4 or more years from now) you may have adjusted more to being a Nebraskan.
Big adjustments such as the one you're making take time to acclimate to. I remember my first year of college being rather lonely, but it got better in my sophomore year. Now, you're 20, so have you been in college a couple years? Or did you get a late start? If the former, you can tough it out for another year or two and then you will likely move when you find a job; if the latter, give yourself some time. Such big changes take a while to settle into.
Hi Papa Bear,
First of all, I truly want to thank you. Many years ago, when I was 12, I stumbled upon your site and writing to you and reading the archive of letters helped me so much, both in deciding to join the fandom and beginning to understand that I was bisexual and accepting that. In times where I'm at my lowest I still come here and your words always help me.
I'm writing you now to ask for help contextualizing my emotions. For context I am a Senior in High school, and of course like everyone else I've been stuck at home since March 15th.
At first, it seemed there was a light at the end of the tunnel, that I'd see my friends again on April 15th, then May 1st, then finally that light was put out as in person classes were officially cancelled until next school year--which means nothing to me as I'll be in college.
This has all taken a huge toll on my mental health. I already live far from my friends and my boyfriend, and just calling has been a fine substitute until last night.
Yesterday was supposed to be the day of my school's Prom, and originally me and my boyfriend had asked our friend group if we could do a call of some sort and maybe dress up and play some games and music. At first everyone seemed okay with this, but when the night came nobody responded as they all went off to do other things. In that moment, I just broke down. I couldn't stop crying and I felt so foolish because in the grand scheme of things, it's just superficial high school stuff right? But it's more than just Prom. Prom just represents everything that's been taken away from me. So many people I'll never see again, who are staying here or going to a different school, people who may not have been my dearest friends but still meant a lot to me as part of my adolescence. The fact that as President of my school's Drama Club I never got to take my final bows, that I have to choose officers when I didn't get to properly evaluate their skills and leadership ability. Decision Day, our senior trip, competitions, birthdays, the list goes on.
It feels like I'm going to be shipped off to college without any proper resolution of my childhood and I don't know how to deal with it. I'm scared that even when things do go back to normal, It'll all be taken away again. I just don't know what to do anymore.
* * *
I actually do remember you :-) and am grateful that my words have helped you in the past. Let me see if I can help you a little with this problem today. (Being German, I am fond of lists):
Life is about phases. Each phase of your life involves saying goodbye to some things and greeting others. You can be of good cheer if you look at the new phases with optimism and hope. I'm reminded of my dear friend Motoko when she had to say farewell to her house and move into senior living apartments. Instead of grieving that she could no longer maintain her home, she looked forward to all the new friends she would make and all the things she would learn from them. You can do the same. Look ahead, not backwards.
Hope this helps you some. Congratulations on graduating, and I wish you luck, success, and happiness!
[Papabear note: I was unable to reply to this writer because it was sent to me from an email account on the Tahoma School District server, which apparently does not allow replies from friendly bears. Therefore, here's hoping the letter writer will see this page!]
Hello, I've come to say... WHY AM I BULLIED AT SCHOOL?!?! I don't understand why kids at my school think I'm weird and mock me. but there's some nice people, one time, at my school, Logan, this kid said my Dinosaur mask was COOL! and asked if he could wear it (before Corona virus), so, I let him! and he was pretty nice, but also someone called me B**** at school, he got in trouble, and then this one girl was afraid of me, but no she CHILL! Anyway, I've recently Noticed that I'm being bullied, because this one dude, I was making noises at, was mocking me, like, "Raaga ghhh, yeah, shut up," and ow hes still rude to me ... and now my friends are saying when I tell them my problems, they are saying, "Well, what do you expect when you're running around like a dinosaur?"
It's just annoying to me, and I'd like advice.
Card the Wyvern
P.S my TikTok)) @dragondinosquad ))) follow me im lonely guys ;w;))
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Well, I notice in the form you sent that you're not a dinosaur, you're a wyvern. That's pretty awesome that you know the difference between a dragon and a wyvern and you are only 12 years old :-3.
The issue of bullying is a HUGE one, and many books have been written about it. I don't have time to write a book, so I will be brief.
First and foremost to note is this (and it seems you already understand this): if you are being seriously tormented with hate (verbal or physical), make sure that the adults in your school and your parents are aware of this and take appropriate action to stop it. There is no justification for bullying, which is a very serious act and should never be tolerated.
The second point is this: people bully for a couple of reasons. One reason is that they are insecure about themselves, and so they pick on people who are different or appear weak to feel better about themselves. Most bullies will back down if you stand up to them because, inside, they are actually cowards. The second kind of bully is just the sort of mundane who has no imagination and is fearful of those who are different, creative, unique, or more intelligent or enlightened than they are. There is IMMENSE pressure in the schoolyard of life for people to conform because they want to be accepted by society. That is human nature.
But you know what? The remarkable people of the world, the people who are inventors, artists, and dreamers who make the world a better place, are never the bullies and conformists of the world. They are people like you, Card.
It is terrific you are exploring your furry side, but there is a lesson to be learned here: There is a time and a place for being furry. Wearing a reptilian mask at school and making growly noises is going to set you up for rejection, disdain, taunting, and bullying (whoever said "what do you expect?" was actually making a keen observation). Therefore, you need to keep such behavior out of school and, when you go to school, just focus on listening to the teacher, doing your lessons, and taking your tests.
There is a lesson here to learn, and it is not a happy one: People might say they will accept you for who you are, but that is not true for many people. They say it, but they don't mean it. To protect yourself, you must learn that sometimes, especially in social settings like schools, where you do not control the situation, you have to pretend you are "one of them."
The good news is this: There are tens of thousands (possibly hundreds of thousands) of furries in the world, and these are the people who are fine with your being a wyvern.
Part of growing up is learning how to deal with people. You will learn, after much trial and error, who the real people are and who the fake ones are. Choose your friends carefully, and you will be much happier. Learn which people are not your friends, and those are the people to whom you do not show your real self. They don't deserve to know what a terrific person you are, so don't give them the opportunity to try and bully you and put you down.
And always remember this: If you get criticized, consider the source. If someone who is not your friend or who you do not respect criticizes you, then what do you care? Brush it off. It is of no consequence because they have not earned the right to judge you.
Big Bear Hugs,
I'd like to know, how to I become the best student at school with the best possible grades?
* * *
As with anything else, if you want to be good at something, work hard at it. Study hard and you should get better grades as a result.
Hi, again, DayPaw,
You know, I apologize for giving you such a terse answer earlier. There's really more I should say on this subject, and it's this: Learning isn't about grades. Real learning is about finding something you're interested in and exploring it fully. Education systems--especially in America--are designed to produce good little factory workers, cubicle dwellers, and consumers. They are not designed to help you genuinely learn things you want to learn to pursue what interests YOU in life. You really don't get that opportunity until college, BUT! You will have a hard time getting into college if you have difficulty with one or more subjects in high school that subsequently brings down your GPA.
The school system--especially in the good ol' US of A--is made to train you to do things by rote learning, to respond to discipline (you must go to your class when the bell rings, leave when the bell rings, sit in your assigned seat, only speak when spoken to, etc.), and to become, basically, an automaton. You are also disparaged and made to feel like shit if you have problems with any one subject, whether that is science or English or even physical education.
So, again, to really answer your question, I should say this: discover first what interests you; if that means you need to go on to college, then you need to play the game to study hard, take the tests, get A's, and move on; but if you don't need a college degree (for example, you want to be a dancer or a painter or you are brilliant enough to invent something in your garage that makes you a millionaire--which actually happens with many of the millionaires we have in this world), then don't worry about it. Just do your time and, when not in school, focus on your passion.
Most of what I know about the world (indeed, most of what I do with my money-paying job) I learned AFTER I left school.
Good grades are there to please your parents and to get a better shot at college. They don't actually mean anything about you personally, and they certainly don't mean squat about your value as a human being.
Big Bear Hugs,
I found your website by looking on google for someone to help me out with a problem that has been plaguing me for years.
For around 5 years, I have been involved in the furry community. I have a fursona, Alula, and I'm not really shy about it. No, I don't go around waving my tail in everyone's face, but I'm not ashamed of it. I treat it the same way I treat the fact that I'm Queer. If I want to talk about it, I will. If you ask me about it, I'll probably tell you unless your being a jerk.
Two weeks ago was the first day of school. As per usual, almost every teacher wanted to play some "Get-to-know-you-game." In theater, we were playing a game where you tear toilet paper and for each square you have to tell about yourself. Now, the teacher didn't tell us about the game at first, so I of course rolled out 20 or 30 squares. So I was at square 20 something and I didn't know what to say so I mentioned the fact that my fursuit is being made right now and should be sent to me soon. I told a few details about her and then I went to the next square.
Now I thought that would be the end of it. Great, a few people gave me looks of disgust. Who cares. I go to lunch two days later and see a bunch of eyes on me and hear laughing. Someone told the entire theater department that I sleep (to keep kind words) with dogs. Everyone is laughing at me and I don't know what to do. Please help.
Alula (age 16)
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First of all, congrats on your fursuit being made and I hope that you enjoy it for many years to come. Now, to the issue at hand....
Okay, so, you're in high school, which for nearly everyone is a quagmire of social drama difficult for anyone to navigate, and, to make matters worse, no one gives you an instruction manual on how to manage things such as bullying and gossip and the social strata and cliques that form. There is, as you know, the constant battle over who are the popular and cool kids and who are the losers and rejects.
But there is a big difference between a bunch of white teeth teens and those keeping it 100. You are being true to yourself, and the fact that you are descending into a world where you are getting bullied is indicative of the sus jerks who only seek membership within the schmid crowd. High school society is like a wolf pack--those who are seen as weak or different are bitten and harrassed by the dom wolves to create a hierarchy. When you are seen as different in any way, the alphas and betas leap and try to shove you into omega status. Seriously, high school is little better than a savage game of survival of the most "socially acceptable." This is a phenomenon that is learned in the schoolyards of America and then continues, sadly, into the adulting world.
So, was the above paragraph so extra coming from a 54-year-old bear? I was kind of making a point with the slang I was using. You're 16, so you likely know better than I do whether those terms were used right or not, but even if they are right, sounds lame coming from a greymuzzle, doesn't it? In the same way, you stand a risk of becoming lame if you don't stay true to yourself. Ask yourself this: Do you want to be special in this life or be just like all the other mundanes in the world--boring, nose-to-the-grindstone, paying your taxes, raising 2.3 children, and dying in an office cubicle? Or do you wish to be special, unique, and have fun in this life, which is the only life you're gonna get?
The reason why you are bothered by the cowardly whispers and giggles is that, currently, you want the approval of others; you want acceptance. That's perfectly understandable, but ask yourself whose approval do you seek? People you respect or people who just want to be part of the norm even if that means hurting others with rumors or worse? People who gossip and care about superficial things are not worthy of your concern.
The best way to deal with bullies is to take away their power by not giving a damn what they are saying because, when you consider the source, they aren't worth your time. Meanwhile, actively look for people who are good friend material. Perhaps even find some furries in school, if possible. Next, lead by example. That is, be a good person, do good deeds, show yourself to be really cool. The more awesome you are in real life, the more the whispers will fade away into inconsequential nothingness. An extreme example: imagine a rumor going about that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once had his fly open during a speech. Now compared to all the amazing things Dr. King did, who the fuck would care if he accidentally forgot to zip up one time? Similarly, if you go around doing volunteer work or doing other awesome stuff, then people who gossip about your being a furry will look foolish. Also, it will give furries a good name :-3
Make being furry cool. Then there's nothing to mock.
Remember, if bullying becomes serious, tell someone in charge at the school such as a school counselor. Tell your parents, as well, if you are bullied. It is important that you don't do this alone. But if you really need some comebacks (and ONLY do this if you are cornered and have to defend yourself) ... if you catch people gossiping about you, here are some things you can say:
Bullies and gossips are weak people. Standing up to them makes them whither away.
Welp, it's that time of the month where I whine to you about my problems because I can't just man up and face life like actual human beings do. Only this time it's not my parents' fault. It's mine.
I let myself fall behind in class. I have C's/D's in most of my classes and I managed to land an F in computer programming. I keep getting super distracted by things like my friends or my electronics (i.e. phone, 2DS, etc.) and I keep forgetting what tasks I'm supposed to do. I keep promising I'll try harder, but I always keep fucking slipping back. I don't understand why I keep f***ing myself over so badly. My parents are disappointed in me for letting myself fall so low (they claim that disappointment isn't the same as anger but it might as well be since they elicit the same emotions from me.) My teachers think my parents are too soft on me. I want to go into a dark corner where people won't find me and just cry everything out but I can't, and winter break is coming up and I only have so much so time to complete the final exam reports for English and computer programming, and I'm so f***ed. Dad's right. I let myself fail the most important schooling year of my life. And even then I don't know what I'll do if by some miracle I graduate this year.
I just..... I should have myself committed to a mental hospital. Maybe there I'd get the help Iactually need. but even then I'd be torn from my friends and family and the outside world and it'd just.... It'd break me. I can't stand even the thought of losing anyone I care about. Why am I such a f***ing chicken? My dad would've taken charge. My dad would've been on top of things all year. I let them down. I let everyone down. I let my grandma down (bless her soul). I let the people online I consider family down. I f***ing let myself down most of all....
* * *
Having trouble focusing is a common problem for people with autism [note: I know this from previous letters from Ferris]. So is getting overly upset about things that happen all the time, such as struggling in school. Yes, you got some low grades, but that doesn't mean you're a loser. A loser is someone who quits trying and just wallows in self-pity. So, what you do is keep trying! And don't worry about being a disappointment to others. You can't please everyone. Focus on yourself and going forward with your life.
I know I am replying too late for your exams, but it was probably too late to change your habits drastically in time for these tests. Let's work on them now and prepare for the future. Essentially, you need discipline. Here is an article from the helpful WikiHow that gives useful tips on how to create a work schedule and stick with it.
You need to set aside blocks of time that are devoted to different classes. Then, you need to study during those times without distractions. Put your phone, tablet, laptop, etc. away. Sometimes it helps to have some soothing background music as you study, but nothing with lots of lyrics that would distract too much. Develop a habit in which you do the same things during specific times, such as "From 1 to 2 pm on weekdays I will study or do homework for my computer class." No matter what, stick to that schedule. Also, as the article notes, allow yourself some free time. Say, "From Noon until 3pm on Saturdays, I will chat with friends online and play games. That's my relaxation time."
This is admittedly a challenge for people with autism. Autistic people need more frequent breaks and rest time. WikiHow, again, has some special tips for people like this. But even if you do have autism, you can tailor a plan for you and your needs.
If you wish, I can help you try to develop a schedule for your future classes. Oh, and too, don't be afraid to ask for tutoring help if you have a difficult subject. There is never any shame in asking for help.
Well, my friends figured out I am a furry and they told me they would tell everyone if I don't do a list of things by next month. They are very embarrassing things and I am scared that they would embarrass me in front of my whole class. I really don't know what to do, so can you please help me?
Adeptclaws (age 10)
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I'm sorry you're going through this. Papabear was bullied as a kid, too, so I understand what you are going through. Here is the short answer to your problem: do not do what these bullies ask you to do. Know why? Because even if you do them, they will still tell you to do MORE embarrassing things for them because they will still threaten to tell your classmates you are a furry. Therefore, it makes no sense to do them because that won't end the bullying.
So, what do you do? What you have to do is eliminate the threat. That is, eliminate being embarrassed. If you are not embarrassed, they will have no power over you. The question then becomes, "Why are you embarrassed to be a furry?" If they say that furries are into porn (X-rated pictures and movies), well, first off, you're ten years old. I doubt you're looking at pornography. Secondly, you could play innocent and say, "I don't know what you're talking about with 'furporn.' What are you looking at on the Internet? Maybe you are the one who is a pervert?" Embarrass them back.
Even more effective would be to beat them to the punch. This means, tell your class before anyone else that you are a furry. Tell them that this just means that you like furry movies like Zootopia and Kung Fu Panda, and if they like these movies then maybe they are furries, too! If kids say you are weird because you want to dress up as an animal, tell them, "Well, don't you dress up for Halloween? It's the same thing! It's just something fun I like to do." People dress up all the time for all sorts of things. People dress up at Comicon, at Sci-Fi Conventions, at Mardi Gras parties, at costume balls, and more. Furthermore, only about 1 in 5 furries actually has a fursuit or a partial fursuit.
Movies and TV shows featuring talking animals are common, AND they are very popular (if they weren't, you would never see them!) I bet a lot of your friends and classmates like the movies mentioned above, as well as TV and video game characters such as Bugs Bunny, Winnie-the-Pooh, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Max Goof, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mewtwo, Crash Bandicoot, Fox McCloud and many others. Ask your classmates: "Do you like these fictional characters? Well, so do I! What's wrong with that? Maybe you're a furry, too! Furries are just people who like these kinds of characters in movies, TV, and games." Again, if they keep implying or saying that you like furries because of the sex, tell them this: "I'm not the one bringing up sex, you are. Maybe YOU are the one who is obsessed with sex, because it sure isn't me. Maybe YOU are the one who should be embarrassed about what you are looking at online because I am not looking at adult stuff online. My parents watch what I do online; maybe your parents should be watching you!"
Is there furporn online? Yes, there is, but online behavior of furries is similar to that of the general community. In other words. teenagers and twenty-somethings who make up a large part of the furry community browse X-rated material online at a rate similar to that of non-furries. Recent research shows about two-thirds of young men in the United States admit to looking at porn online (and probably many more do who do not admit to it); that's about the same as with furries (actually, furries probably look at it less, percentage-wise). The only difference is the exact nature of what they look at, and since furries like anthros, it is hardly surprising that the X-rated stuff they look at are anthros, too. (I hope this is not upsetting, but I am just trying to give you all the information you may need).
Bullies are kids with low self-esteem who look for other kids to make fun of because it makes them feel better about themselves. Don't give them that power and you will be fine. They will be like soldiers whose guns have no bullets in them. Also, do not feel ashamed to go to the principal's office at your school to complain about bullying, or to go to your teacher, or to your parents. Bullying is a big problem, and the only way adults can do something about it is if they know what is going on.
Big Bear Hugs,
I've been a pretty active furry for the past few years, and it's brought me a lot of joy. I love the acceptance and overwhelming positivity. Now, when I bring up my issue, I'm gonna avoid names(I'll use OC names), and not get too personal, but I'll try to make it understandable. I recently went through an argument with a lot of my friends. I broke up with my friends, Cinder, TK, and Peck. Right now the people sticking by me are my friends Velvet, Muffy, and Zip. Now, as you may be familiar, teen friend break ups can be quite emotional and dramatic. I've been pretty down in the dumps lately, especially since Peck tried to convince me everyone hated me, and once TK tried to convince my buddy Ash not to be friends with me anymore. One of the things that really pulls me through how awful drama is, is furry. I wear a pair of ears attached to a headband, and a tail attached to my belt every day, and they always make me feel more unique, especially when people say I look cute or say the tail is so soft and adorable.
But, with the positive people, also comes the negatives. I was working on a project in class while this kid kept pestering me asking "how do you make a furry?" He was really asking how to make my tail, as he didn't understand any fursuiting terms. Though I explained, it became clear quick that he was just setting up a punchline at my expense. Then, when I was getting ready to play my instrument at a pep rally, a trumpet player standing being me pulls my tail. I reflexively looked back, and typically as they always do, he blamed it on someone else. I rolled my eyes and ignored him. Then another kid grabbed my tail with both hands and yanked it enough to pull my pants waistband a solid centimeter away from my body. I turned around and got in his face, then politely asked him to refrain. He just repeatedly yelled. "Guys help! I'm being beat up by a furry." I gave up. After two more tail pulls, one almost knocking me to the ground, they gave up because I stopped reacting. I'm tired of this. I just wish I could cope using the one thing that makes me happy without getting constantly bullied for it. I'm considering not wearing them anymore, but I don't want to have to change who I am when it shouldn't be an issue and the first place. I'm so confused. How can I express the things that make me happy if I'm just going to get bullied for it?
Thank you so much for reading, sorry if this is unorganized.
Osh (age 13)
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You are learning a sad truth about human society: humans want conformity, not individuality. Oh, sure, in America we say that we are for freedom of expression and we are for people being individuals, but in practice, it isn't true. You might notice that although most schools do not have uniforms, there is still a code of how you should dress, as well as act, at school in order to be accepted by your peers.
Osh, there is a time and place for everything. If you don't want to be molested at school, you are going to have to wear the ears and tail elsewhere, because no matter what you do, you are going to get bullied. That is just a fact of life. And it doesn't matter if you complain to the principal's office because they will likely do nothing much about it (unless you are actually hurt physically). They might even tell you to put away the ears and tail, as I am now doing.
Does it suck? Yeah, it sure does. I once had a young girl write to me and tell me about a day at school when her teacher said you can dress up as whatever you would like to be. Encouraged, she put on her furry gear and showed up at class. You know what they did? They took her to the school psychiatrist's office.
And that's how mundanes are. Conformists. Hypocrites. And, often, bullies.
And that is why those in the furry community have furmeets and furcons. Those are the places we go where we can be ourselves.
I would suggest you try and find some like-minded furries your age at school and host a little gathering at your home (with parental approval, of course).
Sorry for the bad news, but it is a lesson you will have to learn in life.
My enemy heard that I am a furry and now he is going to tell my friends that I am a weirdo. My enemy hates and thinks furries are stupid because he says that they are sex addicts (but I know they're not). Please, can you help me out? I need it, please.
Kit the Wolf (age 12, U.K.)
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Okay, the issue here is gossip. Whether it is gossip about being a furry or anything else for that matter, you can deal with it in the same way. Usually. What is unique here is that this gossip—that you are a furry—is actually true. It's the details that are incorrect. Kind of like if people at the workplace outed you for being homosexual. Here are some things you can do....
I hope that helps. Good luck! Write again if you need more help.
Hi there, Papa!
Before we'd begin, I'd like to apologize in advance if someone before me has already asked this question: as a furry, how do I go about making friends in a society that is presumably intolerable to my hobby?
I am about to go to high school, one that's religious and strict and uniformed. There's no way out of it. My parents have made up their minds. They figure that since my older sister (who attended there previously) took a liking to the school, that I would as well. But frankly, I'm the opposite of my sister. Analytical, logical, judging, academically intelligent? No. Think imaginative, idealistic, perceptive, emotionally in-tune. Ballet, AP classes, student leadership with friends? Nah. Try art, meditation, and hiking through nature alone. We have the super intelligent, friendly, and funny computer science nerd, and the overly-artistic and weirdly antisocial "hippie" furry girl. And this girl's being sent to a strict, dare I say it, posh Catholic school with high expectations and low tolerance for anything that is considered "weird."
I know that people aren't always going to be as accepting and open-minded as I am, but I am currently being plunged into a strict world with strict, uptight, unaccepting people. I remember once bringing up a conversation with one of my potential future classmates and sprinkling in some of my hobbies and interests (excluding furry). And just from that, they were appalled. As were the other students I tried to connect with. They didn't even have to speak necessarily; I could tell from their body language and facial expressions that they were very uncomfortable, maybe even freaked out that I do things like meditate instead of shop at the mall, and draw and write stories instead of doing sports or extra academic classes. Granted, these were not art students. But then even when I spoke with more artsy students like me, they thought my ideas were far too weird, and that my creative and pondering imagination had no off-switch. I suppose that's true, but I never really wanted to hit an off-switch. I like my imagination. And yes, I tried very hard to appeal to their better nature and to make a connection, but nothing really worked. Either I'm too weird for them, or they're too sophisticated for me. I don't know.
Needless to say, I didn't dare bring up furry.
So I was wondering if you had any tips or pointers to reaching out to these frankly intimidating people. Usually I'm able to connect with most people in an instant, whether or not they like me. I have this weird ability to tell what people are like when I meet them from the way they move, talk, behave, etc. I get vibes from them. I call it my "Spidey-Sense." But I am embarrassed to admit that I was unable to connect with any of these people. When I spoke to them, all I could see and hear and feel was pretty generic. I couldn't really detect much personality in these people, no offense to them. They just didn't seem to really care, you know?
I apologize. I sometimes have trouble describing what I mean. It would be so much easier for me to communicate if my heart and mind would speak for my mouth.
Anyways, I'm just not sure what to do. I'm already a weird person, with or without the furry hobby. I had so much trouble just speaking with these students and staff, I have no idea how I'm going to try to make friends. Please, if you have any tips or pointers or suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated. I'm open to any ideas.
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Let’s set aside the whole furry thing for a moment because what we are talking about here is bigger than just your interest in things furry: it is about the conflict between our need to be accepted by others and our need to be our true selves.
A wise man named Henry David Thoreau said, “Be yourself—not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be.” Human beings strive to assimilate because they are social creatures who find strength and comfort from being part of a group. Unfortunately, when that group’s standards differ from one’s own, an inner conflict arises—a dissonance in the soul that makes us deeply unhappy. This is what you are going through right now.
The problem starts because your parents are treating you like your sister, even though the two of you are very different individuals. A good place to start, then, would be to approach your parents and ask them if they would consider sending you to a different school. Explain to them that you feel your sister’s school, while it might be quite excellent academically, is more designed toward mathy, sciency types, but you are more artistic and would like to go to a school that is more geared toward the arts. I don’t know how open your parents are to talking to their children, but I’m wondering if you have even considered letting them know how you feel about this school? Perhaps, if they are open minded, they will listen and, not knowing before how you felt, will try and find something else for you. If so, then perhaps problem solved.
If not, and they make you go to this school anyway, then I suggest you look at the broad picture: it is more important to be who you are than it is to assimilate (unless you are a Borg, who are such charming people, yes?), even if that means you will be friendless. Going back to Thoreau, he once said he would rather sit alone on a pumpkin than sit with a lot of people on a velvet cushion. It’s better to reject the materialistic trappings of society and be an individual.
The number one reason I hear from furries as to why they are unhappy is that they are not allowed to be themselves. Being a furry is just one facet of your unique personality. Ultimately, however, the only person who can make you be or not be yourself is … you. When you think of it, who are the people considered most admirable in our world? It’s people like Benjamin Franklin, Rosa Parks, Nikola Tesla, Allen Ginsburg, Jackson Pollock, people who went against the norm and fiercely, courageously insisted on themselves. And the people who epitomize what society supposedly wants? The rich and famous like movie, music, and sports stars? Have you ever noticed how much American society likes to trash these people? And when you ask them, they often say that they were at their most unhappy when they were the richest and most famous (great example is the Beatles).
We only have one life. How many of us lead lives of “quiet desperation” (Thoreau again). People frantically try to gain approval and worry about obtaining things that society deems valuable (houses, cars, money) and die having wasted their talent, their hearts, their souls.
Turquoise, thank you for writing ol’ Papabear and giving me this opportunity to address youngsters like yourself who are standing on that precipice in their teens years. You have a choice here of accepting what others say you should be and do, stepping forward, and falling into the abyss—OR! You can give yourself the power to grow wings and fly safely above the expanse.
Keep it in perspective, hon. We are here to find ourselves, to grow, and to love. All else is vanity. That is my advice to you.
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