Hi, Papa Bear,
I happened to discover your column not to long ago by a happy accident. Sadly, I can't exactly recall how. If I remember correctly, I believe that I clicked on an advertisement.
Anyhow, I'll start on why I'm writing to you. I am a 17 year old Furry who has been feeling particularly lonely in the fandom lately. I joined the fandom when I was 15 and have felt a growing since of lonesomeness ever since.
This is most likely caused by my choice to keep my mother in the dark about the fandom. She is a very supportive, strong mother and incredibly loving. It's just that I have a fear that she'll do a quick Google (regular or images) search of "Furry" and find some of the unpleasant material that exists in the fandom rather than all the good things. Also, I attended a small, local anime convention not too long ago with some friends. My mother's reaction was one of confusion but she let me go anyway. So, I think that she would be even more confused by the whole Furry fandom. Thus, I've decided to wait until I'm in college to start attending any conventions or meet-ups. Because of this, I've only limited my interaction in the fandom to FA. I do have one close friend who I know from school that is a Furry as well. Sadly, she isn't into the Furry fandom as much as I am. I say this because she rarely goes on FA (as she's told me in the past) and almost ever posts anything. Don't get me wrong. I know that the fandom isn't exactly for everybody. It's just that I feel rather lonely.
FA may be my only connection to the Furry fandom, but it hasn't come without some issues. The closest that I've gotten to making a furfriend is when I comforted someone who's dog had just recently died. I didn’t expect anything to come out of it. I only saw someone hurting and decided to help. We had quite a conversation and he even followed me afterwards which surprised me. Also, on FA, every chance that I've taken to put myself out in the fandom hasn't exactly resulted in much. I've left as of now: 270 comments, since I joined FA from just under a year ago, on journals and art alike. However, I've only gotten a handful of responses, even to those in which I wrote lines upon lines of support and advice. I've also posted a few writing pieces (12) since my talents lean more towards writing rather than drawing. Sadly, for the most part, they've mostly gone unnoticed. The worst part about being on FA is seeing all of the other Furries who ARE participating in the fandom. I see the pictures of newly purchased fursuits, I find art that has at least twenty or more comments and I read journals upon journals of people discussing their upcoming trips with friends to whatever next convention is coming.
I can't help but feel like an outcast sometimes by seeing all of these people and the happiness in the fandom. I know that sounds selfish, but it's true. I'm angry at myself for even being jealous of another human being's achievements and creations. But I can't help but compare everything that they have and the very little that I have. I'm constantly find myself in a fight between trying to keep trying to put myself out there and just quitting. I tell myself "Just wait until you go to a convention" or even "They'd like you if they just met you in person." But the truth is, that I don't know what to believe. All I know is that I feel alone.
So my question is: what do you think that I should do? Should I keep waiting until I get to go to a convention some day? Should I continue to write and post comments on FA? I ask this because I don't know an answer. I don't know what to do. I don't want to be alone. Sorry if I rambled in my letter. I'm just so melancholy right now.
Anonymous (age 17, California)
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First thing that strikes me is that FurAffinity (FA) is not the only furry site out there by any means. I hope you don’t think that is the only place you can go for furry interactions? There are many many other sites, too many to list here, but among the others are SoFurry, Furry4Life, FurNation, Furtopia, FurryMuck, and the many groups on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter. So, just so you know there are other options.
Next, I think you’re overly concerned about your mom’s reaction. As you say, she is a loving and supportive and strong parent. I think that, instead of waiting for college, you should invite your mom to go to a furry convention with you. That is a super way of educating her and showing her it is not a Bacchanalia of perversion, but, rather, just like many other conventions, a fun place to gather and share interests with others. Now, you are in California, but you don’t say where exactly. If you are in southern California, you can attend Califur in Irvine (L.A. area) March 30-June 1. If you are in northern California, go to FurtherConfusion in San Jose in January.
I understand wanting to get some attention in the fandom. It’s not that you are an attention whore, so to speak, but you simply wish to gain a connection with other furries. No shame in that. I don’t know what you are posting, exactly, in terms of stories, comments, etc., so I can’t say if you are doing anything wrong, per se. The thing is, before you can expect to get reactions back, people need to know who you are. Don't put the cart before the horse. Try to join smaller interest groups on places like Facebook and Furry4Life where you can meet and become familiar with people who share your specific interests (e.g., mine would be things like bears, wildlife conservation, greymuzzles, and fursuiting). Then try to find furries close to you whom you can meet in person at furmeets. All these things will help you find and build friendships among the furry kith and kin.
I think you see where I am going with this. I’m thinking your problem might be that you are too generalized in your approach and you need to be more targeted. Also, you need some real-life exposure to the fandom. Remember, many furries are rather shy and slow to form friendships. You can’t just post comments on FA and expect to become the talk of the town. Have patience, and don’t give up on the fandom just yet!
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