I'm facing alot of problems in my life lately with my online circle of friends.
A little background before I begin...
I'm a 20 year old who grew up in a strongly conservative town. I am a Christian and was raised under the tight morals of the Baptist denomination. On top of this, I'm an active member of furry and otherkin communities. I strive to maintain my beliefs about myself, and what being a furry and otherkin mean to me; but I also strive to maintain my conservative beliefs in God and society, and my opinions can be very striking.
Being who I am causes a lot of controversy on the online communities I join. It makes people want to argue and fight against my conservative-raised opinions and beliefs. It's not that I always bring up the arguments, but they bring them to me. It hurts me to see it and causes me deep emotional grief for them to lash out at me because of it.
I lost one friend because I disagreed with their view on the world. I lost another friend because of what my faith says about certain actions being wrong that they are doing. I lost another friend's trust over a controversial healthcare issue that I did not agree with. I was called a literal threat by another for my beliefs.
I'm being hurt on all sides, and I can't stand it. I feel like I should shut down all my accounts and stay away from the furry and otherkin communities forever. I truly don't want to do it, but if it will keep others from hurting me or being hurt, I will do it.
I feel quite alone. I'm afraid of my real life friends. They were raised in the same environment and would likely reject me as well if I told them about my furry and otherkin nature. So, I hide from them already about it.
I guess my real question is tho.... how do I find acceptance in the middle of these seemingly clashing communities? How do I balance the "conservative" nature with the "nonjudgemental furry" one and find peace?
Any help would be appreciated,
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What an outstanding question you have posed for Papabear today! I would really love to sit down with you IRL sometime and talk with you and learn your opinions. I bet it would be fascinating.
So many people in this world have very strong opinions about the nature of reality, God, society, and so on, as you have found out. They see the world in black and white, for and against, right-wing or left-wing, and on and on. Moderates and people with an open mind seem to be a species in decline.
When you confront people with new and unfamiliar ideas, you challenge their comfort zones and mindsets about reality, which makes many people upset and even frightened. This, in turn, can spur them to anger—an anger that is based on fear and ignorance. When this happens, you can even see people acting so irrationally that they counteract their own ideals (I give you the bizarre people who bombed abortion clinics and killed doctors who did abortion procedures all in the name of the idea that abortion was murder; then there are the people who kill in the name of God, effectively violating one of His most important commandments).
You find yourself in between two such groups: furries/otherkin vs. your Baptist friends. You say you are “afraid of my real life friends,” meaning, I take it, your Baptist friends, while on the other paw you are being threatened by your furry/otherkin friends and losing them, one by one, because of your beliefs. Both sides have very set-in-stone ideals, and both sides are wrong to persecute you for your ideals.
So, what should you do? Well, you could pretend you don’t have your own opinions and play the chameleon, acting one way around furries and otherkins in order to make them comfortable, and then you can turn around and act like you are not an otherkin in front of your Baptist friends so that they can be comfortable. And, as you are busy making everyone comfortable, you can lose yourself and who you truly are.
The other option is a bit frightening, to be sure. That is, to be you, to stand up for your opinions—not in the same way as your so-called friends have, closing their minds to all outside philosophies and beliefs, but in a way that asserts your true identity and who you are. Believe it or not, there are people out there who have beliefs similar to yours; they are Christian furries, and I have talked about them in other columns (see http://www.askpapabear.com/1/post/2012/06/christian-gay-and-furry.html). I think you will find some real friends among these people, not friends who will leave you because of your beliefs, and not friends that you will be afraid of.
Kairen, it is time for you to be a warrior, a person who has the courage to be who you are and to not let other people define you. This is a very hard thing do do, which it is why it is called being a warrior. You will lose some people along the way, people who are not really your friends, and it will be extremely difficult, but you will also make new friends and gain happiness and acceptance for who you are.
Nothing is more important than the realization and assertion of your self-identity. Without it, we literally are all lost.
And you are not alone. You have a bear on your side, and you will find others who will support you. I know this to be true.
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