I have been a part of the furry fandom since the mid-nineties--or so I thought at first. Nearly twenty years later, I find myself seriously questioning that.
I admit that I am very much of a square peg, not fitting in regardless of what's involved, be it art or something else. I have tried taking steps to rectify that, tried doing what I could to get more involved, but it either winds up in abject failure, or what little success I have gets eclipsed by someone else. Either way, I get brushed to the wayside.
Is it worth it to even stick around? On one hand, I'd have to deal with continuous brush-offs from furries, bronies, and what have you. On the other, I worry that I'd possibly alienate the handful of friends that I have. Plus I'd be giving up something that meant something to me all this time. Either way, it's a lose-lose situation.
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Are you a furry feeling alienated, or maybe an alien feeling furinated? Join the club, JayTee. In my experience, it is rare to come across a furry who has not felt like an outsider at some point in his or her life. It’s not very surprising, either, since I think a lot of people who already feel alienated by society in general can gravitate toward the fandom. What can hurt is that people like you and I go to the fandom to find acceptance and then find rejection, in some cases. I know some very bitter furries because of this, and some are very angry at furries in general.
All groups of social animals, from humans to wolves to chimps to elephants, tend to self-stratify themselves into a hierarchy, with some members at the top and some lower down. Papabear, like you, discovered furries around the 1990s. For the longest time I just sat by the sidelines, not really getting involved much. When I finally DID make my first forays into socializing more with other furries, I cam across the same thing you did. My first negative experience came with the first time I attended a Prancing Skiltaire party. I noticed immediately how cliquish people were to the point where I felt I was back in high school. It was very upsetting to me.
Slowly, however, as I began making more furiends, which helped me overcome my furry shyness. Now I have more friends in my life than I ever did, thanks to being involved with furries. However, I am still far from what one might call a “popufur,” and that is fine with me. I don’t want to be a popufur.
What I learned is to not try to nose my way into existing cliques but rather to build my own, and that sounds like what you have done, JayTee. You say you have a “handful of friends” and you worry that you will alienate them by “leaving.” But what exactly are you trying to leave? Are you trying to “leave” being a furry? Being a furry is that “something that meant something” to you. You can’t leave that because if you are a true furry you can’t leave something that you are.
Papabear’s advice to you is this: first, keep your friends in your life; second, do those furry things that please you, whether it is drawing or doing something else, and don’t worry about whether or not others accept you for what you do. You aren’t doing it for THEM, you are doing it for YOU.
Papabear knows it hurts to feel rejected. We all want to have people accept us for what we are and to appreciate the things we try to do to make this world a better place. Sometimes, though, we are not accepted. That doesn’t mean that you deserve to be rejected and it doesn’t mean that what you do is not valuable. For example, look at Vincent Van Gogh. Now considered one of the most brilliant artists of his day, nobody bought his paintings while he was alive and he felt he was a total failure. The point is that often the people who reject others are just plain wrong to do so.
Don’t let others’ opinions dictate to you what you do and who you are, JayTee. Do what makes you happy, and when you run into people who appreciate you for you, be friends with them and support them back. Maybe the whole world of furry doesn’t quite suit you, but your private corner of it can be very satisfying in itself. Embrace it and you will be a winner.
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