I feel like I’m falling behind some of my friends. What can I do to feel better about where I am in my life?

Question

Many of the furries I know are really struggling in their lives right now, especially compared to some of their peers. Is there such a thing as a furry “quarter life crisis?” If so, do you have any tips on how to feel better about one’s place in life?

Received via Telegram (name withheld)

Answer

Thanks so much for asking this question! I think you’re right that many furries struggle to find meaning and purpose in their lives, especially in their late teens and early 20s. This isn’t at all a uniquely furry problem — millennials in general are facing a crisis of meaning brought on by the unique moment we seem to be experiencing in Western society, one characterized by excessive emphasis on individualism, unique identity, and hedonism.

Now, don’t get me wrong, pursuing pleasure and individuality isn’t a bad thing. It’s just that it’s really hard to come up with a convincing life story, a “story of you” that has a lot of drama and tension, if you’re ultimately the only thing that matters to you. You need to have other characters to interact with and quests to go on, ultimately in the service of some larger plot. 

The awesome thing about the “story of you” is that it is in fact unique; you aren’t in someone else’s story book, and at least in Western society, no one is really writing the story for you. You get to choose the plot, you get to decide which characters matter to you, and you ultimately get to decide what side-quests you accept as you grow and develop and level up your skills as a (hopefully) good furry and a decent person on this planet.

The other awesome thing about your story being uniquely your own is that it really doesn’t make sense for you to be comparing yourself to other people. Saying that you are struggling whereas your friends are not might not be quite right. Again, you’re in your story book, not theirs. You haven’t read all the chapters in their book, and your character hasn’t been through the same experiences theirs has. Indeed, their circumstances are likely very different from your own, even if some of the plot points might be similar.

We tend to create a lot of drama and stress for ourselves when we compare ourselves to others, because we often only see the best excerpts from their stories, whereas we have access to all of our own rough drafts. It’s easy to convince yourself that your story isn’t very good when you compare yourself in this way.

Instead, try to compare yourself in your life story’s current chapter with yourself in previous chapters: How have you changed, grown, and matured? What pain and hardship has made you wiser and more resilient? What failures have taught you to appreciate the successes in your life? Who have you met that changed your life’s course? What losses have made you appreciate what you have? What wonderful things have you encountered that taught you the joy and excitement that can be found in this world?

Surely, when you reflect on your own life’s story, you’ll realize that you’ve come very far, and that you’re exactly where you’re meant to be.

The remaining pages remain to be written, but the only page you need concern yourself with is right now.

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What can you do now to bring your story closer to its happy ending?

Try to envision what your next chapter could be like. Remember, you’re the protagonist in your own life story, so you will need to take charge and take action to make the plot move along. Think about what it is that you value, what it is that you most need, what it is that you deeply crave. What is keeping you out of alignment with your core values, or keeping you from acting on your needs and wants?

When you stop and think about what is standing in your way, you might find that what is keeping you from achieving your goals is mostly negative self talk — you telling yourself that you can’t, or you shouldn’t, or it isn’t the right time. Perhaps you struggle with delayed gratification, and get stuck procrastinating, telling yourself that you just aren’t ready to commit to that next big project when you could be doing something fun right now.

If you’re someone who struggles with procrastinating, one thing you might be able to do to get your life story back on track is to work on balancing satisfying your immediate wants with work towards your long-term desires. It’s important to ask yourself what is keeping you from doing the important things in your life. You don’t need to give up on all your side quests, but you do need to work on the main plot of your story at least from time to time — having a sense of progress in your life will leave you feeling much more satisfied and likely less depressed.

Unfortunately, if you’re already depressed and feeling stagnant, it can be hard to break this cycle. It’s hard to get from feeling like you “have to” do things to getting excited about the fact that you get to do them at all. Willpower and self-control are harder to come by when you’re already feeling low, and passion can be difficult to feel when everything feels like a chore. However, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best possible chance at getting your story back on track.

One of the most important things you can do is to practice good self-care: Get plenty of sleep, eat a varied diet, get fresh air and experience the outdoors, and try to get some exercise every day. Spend time in community with people who have similar values and goals and who do not judge you for who you truly are, and don’t surround yourself with people who leave you feeling anxious and stressed. Try not to binge any one particular activity for too long — whether that’s scrolling Twitter, playing League of Legends, shitposting on Telegram, or getting drunk/stoned.

Games, substances, media, and even sexual gratification can all become too much of a good thing if you don’t zoom out and think about balancing your life, ensuring that you have some forward progress even as you stop to enjoy yourself now and then.

To ensure that you’re making good progress, another thing to try is to build a support network of people you can confide in and empathize with. When you have people you can express your  worries and doubts to, without fearing judgement, you will have much better luck talking yourself out of negative messages that you attack yourself with — often because your friend will help you see that you’re more capable and valuable than you give yourself credit for.

Hopefully reflecting on what is keeping you from making progress in your life story helps you get unstuck from your “quarter life crisis!” If you have any follow up questions or comments, feel free to get in touch with us via the feedback form available on our contact page.

If you would like to discuss this topic or any other with Viro one on one, consider booking him for a private coaching session.

Viro the Science Collie

Viro Science Collie is a PhD virologist and medical writer, experienced in teaching, technical communication, and writing for the public. He has been active in the furry community since 2012 and has been happily and ethically non-monogamous for much of that time. His interests include non-traditional relationship structures, technology, biological science, and tennis.