I had an interesting experience this weekend that put into context where I stand in the furry fandom. We had friends in town and decided to go out to a local festival where the annual "All Species Parade" was going on. We don't get out much and even less so in suit, so this was a wonderful opportunity to be a fur in public.
Before the start of the parade we were approached by a blond haired kid who couldn't have been any older than 16. Before he even spoke he had a look in his eye that told me exactly what he was thinking - he was a furry and he had just found other furries. He was nearly speechless, cheered and raised his arms to the sky and said "Finally! I'm not alone anymore!"
I was immediately filled with two strong yet opposite feelings; both empathy at knowing EXACTLY how he felt and the relief of finding like-minded folks, but also the teeth-gritting cringe of meeting someone with lofty expectations of furry and the thought that I'd be the one to have to introduce him to the fandom at large.
Not 15 years ago I was in the same position - I knew I was weird, had just found the internet, and was *just* realizing that there were people out there like me. I desperately wanted to meet other people, especially ones with fursuits. I was so lucky to have found the people I did - who in spite of my youth, accepted me for who I was and showed me to the wonderful world of big cuddly animal costumes. I don't know where I'd be without those people, and the world would probably be a much lonlier place.
With roles reversed, I'm finding myself turning my nose up at this kid. I'm justifying my coldness, telling myself I'm too busy, he's too young, that we have nothing in common except for furry, and that it's not my responsibility to shepard him into the fandom etc etc etc. The more I sit on that decision, the worse I feel. The thought that I'm never going to have kids scares me into wanting to impart what knowledge I have onto the next generation, and there really is no better recipient than the up and coming (and lonely) fur.
I've just e-mailed him and pointed him to a local group of college-aged furs, but I don't want that to be all that I do. But I also fear inviting him into my house and him turning into a drama bomb, or becoming clingy, or wanting something from me that I can't provide (attention, time etc.)
I hate feeling like this :(