Fitting In?

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching lately.

As just about everyone that I’m friends with on LJ knows, about a year ago (early Jan 2010) I packed up everything I owned and moved across the country from Dayton, OH to Austin, TX. I have a new job down here, and I moved following work. (And I was just ready to get out of Ohio after being there since 1993!)

After getting down here my social life went from slow to nearly none. I have very few friends down here. Traditionally I make friends at work and that carries over into non-work hours, but it just hasn’t happened here. Given how hard I work, and the long hours, it’s not that surprising. Unlike at my old job, I rarely have an idle moment now. From the moment I walk in the door it’s go-go-go.

So, I’m kinda stuck with doing a task I don’t do very well – find a group outside of work to hang out with and eventually start building up friendships like I had in Ohio.

Which brings me to what I have been struggling with… how well do I “fit in” in the furry fandom. The reason is, I know there are Austin furry events. I’m on the TAFF mailing list and I can see them being planned and people talking about it afterwards. I have also run into Austin furs at RCFM and MFM, so I know they actually do exist.

The problem I have is this: I’m not so sure that the furry random and I are a good fit. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much a furry and consider myself such to the core, but I have little in common with a very very big chunk of the fandom.

I’m a 30-something straight male that’s working hard on his professional career. In everything I do, both inside of work and out, I try to ooze professionalism. My image and how other people think about me is very important to me — because in your career, for better or for worse, who you know often trumps what you know. (I don’t want to argue if this is a good thing or not, it’s just how it works!)

This seems to fly directly in the face in a lot of the attitudes and norms in the furry fandom. For some, and the majority to me it seems, there exists an attitude of “I don’t care what people think about me, I’m just going to be myself.” I have a hard time arguing with this, and fully support that in private, but when it comes to going out in public, I sort of disagree.

I get really uncomfortable hanging out with people wearing ears and tails in public, for example. It’s easier for me at a con since I’m far away from home and not worried about running into my manager or a coworker while out in public, but I just can’t make myself do it here at home. The risk outweighs the reward.

I suppose having an attitude of not caring about others is fine when you’re young and still exploring life, but it’s just not a good fit for me. I’m 10+ years into my career and have worked hard to get where I am – and I’m just not willing to risk my reputation over something like that. (Even in Austin, where weird is a good thing, there are limits!) I *DO* care about other people. I care very much.

When I look at the things that I do in the furry fandom, I realize I fill a bit of an unusual role. I tend to be more of an organizer and administrator. I really like things like that – running a website, figuring out how to get a process like registration in order, etc. It’s more “work for fun” for me than a social thing.

This is why I often get frustrated at things inside of the fandom, like poor communication. I’m trying to “work for fun” and do my job, and it’s frustrating when I have people acting as blockers and not letting me work at the level I want to work. And all of this is fine – that’s just how the furry fandom operates – but it’s not how I operate. This is a me problem, not one of the fandom.

So what’s the point to writing all of this?

I’m still trying to decide what to do. What I’m doing today isn’t going to work for forever; I’m tried of being lonely and having nothing to do on Friday night. It would be really nice to have friends to watch football games with, or even *gasp* find a girlfriend someday. It seems that the furry fandom and I aren’t all that good of a match – so where do I turn?

I don’t know. I need to figure it out. My world is changing around me.

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