I have been writing the "Ask Papabear" column for seven years now. I wanted to pause for a moment and offer these thoughts and points to all of you who read this blog....
Why do I write "Ask Papabear"? Hmm. I started writing it when young furries started seeking advice from me unsolicited. I became active in the fandom rather late, but most furries are in their teens and twenties, and I saw that a lot of them lacked positive mentors in their lives. You know, when I first created the website, people made fun of me. "Who is this guy that calls himself 'Papabear' and why does he think he's so great he can give furries advice? Does he just want to be a popufur?" There was some furry radio podcaster who mocked my voice (even though there is no audio on the site) and acted like I was a doofus. A friend of mine alerted me to the broadcast as it was ongoing, and I felt humiliated. So I called the station up, and they said the guy who was mocking me was just doing it "because it's his job on the show to mock people." Although they apologized, and I told them I accepted that apology, in my head I felt really bad. I almost quit right there because I felt, "Well, if this is how furries are, then f*** 'em."
But I didn't quit because I realized that people like that were a minority, and if I quit then a lot of furries that needed some encouragement would go lacking.
Why do I feel I am qualified to give advice? First, it should be noted that most newspaper advice columnists in the past were women with absolutely no background in psychology or social work; newspaper editors gave them the job on the old social pages to fill up some space and appeal to women readers. So, I didn't need any qualifications LOL. However, I actually DO have qualifications, even though I'm not a trained counselor. I have life experiences that cover many bases relevant to furries, and, being a furry myself and a fursuiter, I know what it's like to be a furry. I've actually had compliments from psychologists and social workers about my column. Oh, I also studied psychology for two years in college before switching majors to English. Finally, since I don't charge for my advice, I'm not pretending to be a professional, so nothing illegal is happening here.
But WHY do I do it?
I have found in my life that things such as money, material goods (houses, cars, etc.), and power have no appeal to me. They do not give me any satisfaction. The only thing that has made this bear's life feel worthwhile is hearing from people like you who have said that I have helped them. When I hear, for example, that I have helped a married couple with their problems in bed and have brought them back from the brink of separation, or that I have gotten two furries to hook up and become lifetime mates, or that I helped a parent understand her furry child, well, that just brings a big grin to this greymuzzle's face! So, I guess you could say I'm being selfish. Helping people makes me happy. I have struggled since my teen years with depression (still have it, of course), and people like you are my antidote for when I feel sad about the losses in my life or about the state of the world.
To you, and to all my readers, thank YOU for helping ME.
Papabear Grubbs Grizzly
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.