Dear Papa Bear,
I've being actively trying to find where I fit into the furry world. After 7 years I still feel like an outsider. For those 5 of those 7 years I have being pretty active with posting artwork on one of the well know furry art sites. At first I tried to find other groups of furs that would welcome me into their circle, but with no luck. Most of the time these groups would get me to draw there request, and when I stopped I was case aside.
After a few hard life lessons I stopped looking and tried to make a name for myself. And in some way I have. I found my niche drawing what I'm good at, and I've managed to keep making random gift artwork to cheer up those what seem to be having a bad day. I'm proud of what I have accomplished, but It's still kinda lonely when I have watchers, but no group of friends.
So once again I'm longing for a group of furs to hang out with online. So I've started trying to find others to chat with. I've been looking for a more mature (30+ age, NOT Adult themed) crowd to hang with. People my own age. The problem is I've been labeled as "CUTE" and thus I seem to be dismissed by these others guys. I tried to create a new fursona to Bridge the gap, but even he was labeled as "CUTE". It seems like my natural style is cute, and thus everything I create is cute.
I feel like I'm never going to find any friends to pal around with.
Should stop trying?, and Just accept that things are just going to be the way they are?
Do you have an advice on what I'm doing wrong?
* * *
Dear Mixed-up Fox,
Oh, wow, you are talking to the right person, Mixed-up. Papabear has been an outsider most of his life, and in many ways I still feel that way. When I was a cub and living in Van Nuys, I was made fun of because I was pale and skinny and not very athletic. I wasn’t actually very good at school, until I got so ostracized that I figured I might as well hit the books. I started getting straight A’s and then was ostracized again for being a brainiac. My father moved the family several times, too, and I had trouble making new friends each time we settled somewhere new.
Eventually, I stumbled on furries on the Internet. I was really amazed because I thought I was the only one who really thought anthro characters were cool. So, I started getting into the fandom and making a few online friends. My very first social function was the PS Party that my dear friend Cyberbear took me to. No one talked to me there. Everyone had their own little group, their clique, and I felt very alone. I didn’t go again for many years until this year, in fact. Unlike you, Mixed-up, I’m not a talented artist, so I couldn’t make friends that way. What I did find was the bear community. I had something in common with them, and I founded the BearFurries group on Yahoo, and the Greymuzzles group on Facebook. Then I got into fursuiting and found that was a great way to meet people, too. Then I started this column, which gives me a lot of satisfaction, truly.
Anyway, the way I started making more and more friends was by finding one or two really close friends, and these friends introduce me to new friends, and pretty soon my circle was enlarged.
As you have found out, you can’t make true friends by giving them art or trying to “make a name for yourself.” You might get groupies or users or followers this way, but not real friends.
What you tried next seems to make better sense: finding some mature furries to hang out with. I’m not really clear from your letter, though, whether you just chat with them online or whether you actually meet them in person and hang out with them. You really need to hang out with people in person to make real friends, such as at meets or conventions or just at your house.
Papabear sees you are a bit upset at being labeled “cute.” Believe me, there are a LOT worse things to be than cute. What’s wrong with cute? Your next mistake, though, was trying to come up with a fursona to please other people and get them to like you, rather than having a fursona to purely please yourself. Stick with your original fursona, which, I bet, is more like you.
It might be cliché, but the best thing Papabear can tell you is to be yourself. Look for people who share your interests and who are, perhaps, “cute” just like you. Maybe form a “cute furries anonymous” club on FB, do something silly with it. Have fun!
The WORST thing you can do is come off as desperate, needy, and clingy. When you appear desperate for friendship, you will scare people off. Instead, be yourself. And get as much REAL person-to-person exposure to people as you possibly can. Be open to friendships from unexpected places, and don’t judge people too quickly who offer you a paw.
If you get off your computer and spend time in the real world, you will inevitably find people who share your interests and like you for you, without putting a label on you (such as “cute”) and without befriending you only because they want you to draw something for them.
And that’s the way it’s done, Mixed-up. Don’t give up on yourself. Don’t give up on friendship. There are friends out there waiting to be made!
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