I had seen your articles and read a few I enjoyed, so I thought you might be able to help me with something that's been bothering me for a while.
I enjoy art very much and love being in the furry community. I especially love contributing my art and praising other artists and fursuit makers.
Recently, I have finally been able to come out of the furry closet and recognize myself as a furry. My entire high school life, I denied being a furry and refused to let myself enjoy that creative part of me that I kept locked away. Reasons I did it were because of judgmental friends who hated furries and thought they were gross. Naturally, as any young teenager in their first years of high school would do, I had tried to fit in.
When my senior year rolled around, I couldn't keep denying it and tried to pass it off as enjoying furry art. My friends didn't take too well to that at all. I began to hide it even more till I met some amazing friends online who were in the furry community. They had always been there for me and supported me when my friends wouldn't.
I had been diagnosed earlier in the year with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression, to top it all off my mother's own mental health began to unravel and did not help. I had about three or four panic attacks around my friends and had been treated differently ever since. I was also taken to a mental hospital for therapy and to get medication. Nasty rumors had been spread and there were plenty of jokes about it. I felt that I had to bottle up those parts of me also, which I did and ended up in the hospital twice. But my furry friends online had helped me an awful lot with talking to me and just trying to find ways of making me happy.
While I had easily found help with proper medication and finding healthy outlets, my mother was not as lucky and passed away from prescription drug overdose.
When my mom's funeral came around, none of my friends showed up but two of them. I had really begun to learn where I stood In their lives and decided to rid myself of them.
My friends online in the furry community were extremely nice to me and helped me so much with support I needed after mom had passed.
I am happy with myself now and I think I have done very well with myself since mom died.
I'm not in college yet, I am taking a break to allow myself to process and breath. I have also had time to explore myself and fully accept that I'm a furry. I am also very proud of myself for accepting myself as a furry. I would love to indulge further and enjoy it a step further.
I have decided to do that by purchasing a tail. I am excited to wear it, but recently, I have been having cold feet about it. I would like to try to wear it in public from time to time, but my anxiety gets the best of me and I immediately just want to throw it away. I have analyzed why I feel such strong anxiety towards it, and I have come to the conclusion that I am afraid of my high school comrades seeing me and I'm afraid of the opinions of others. I looked up forums and other things to see how other people felt, but I feel alone, as what I have read, no one really feels any anxiety towards it and they happily embrace the funny looks when they wear their tails.
I wanted to ask, if you could help me determine if maybe it is too early for me to attempt wearing a tail, or maybe give some advice on how to enjoy wearing it without getting high anxiety or put a little control over my anxiety.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my letter and respond.
Gadget (age 18)
* * *
I am very sorry to hear of your mom’s passing, and also very proud of you for how you are working through it and your life. Despite your anxiety and fears, I see you as a very strong person, indeed.
In the book I am writing about the fandom, I will be quoting some research that has been done about furries that says a huge reason people glomp onto the fandom is because of the emotional support they receive. You’ve experienced this firsthand how your so-called peers in school largely abandoned you while your furry friends gave you support and encouragement.
I’m glad you’re recognizing that these so-called friends are not really friends at all. Anyone who mocks you, anyone who treats you badly because you are suffering from a disability of any kind (and that includes GADD) is not a friend at all.
The question becomes, therefore, why do you give a you-know-what if these non-friends of yours don’t like your wearing a tail in public? If we were all 100% self-confident, of course, this wouldn’t bother us at all because we would consider the source of the mocking and have no respect for it; therefore, it would not trouble us.
But most of us, including me, are not 100% confident; we have at least a part of us that, even in the smallest way, feels bad when we are made fun of.
You write that, in the forums, all these other furries are completely fine with wearing their fursuits or partials in public and do not feel distressed at all. That might be true for a few of them, but, believe me, a lot of them feel the same way you do and feel a bit embarrassed and lack confidence to wear such things in public (especially if it's not a furmeet or furcon). Interestingly, I believe that it is actually more difficult to wear a partial in public than a full fursuit. Yours truly has no problem donning my bearsuit and doing fun things in public because my identity is completely concealed. This is the power of masks and costumes. But wearing just a tail or ears takes cajones because people can see that it is you!
I don’t think it’s too early for you to do some fursuiting, but I think you should ease into it. There are a lot of places where you can have fun wearing your tail: everything from special holidays (Halloween) to fairs (the Renaissance Faire is a good one). You can, of course, don the tail at furmeets and furcons. You could wear it at costume parties or if you have some fun festivals in Texas. Mardis Gras and carnivals are great places, too. You could volunteer at a pet adoption charity and wear it, or perhaps at wildlife conservation or environmental rallies, or at spiritualist ceremonies (if you’re into shamanism or Wicca, for instance). Be creative.
So, wear the tail at such events as outlines above for a year or two or three before doing it for all occasions. Ease into it. The more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll feel.
Hope that helps!
Leave a Reply.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.