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Where has Zen been?

Something that I've been meaning to talk about for some time is the sort of disappearance of my main fursona, Zen. While I could just chalk it up to 'Luthor feels more like me', there's a lot about this gradual change that coincides with other feelings and struggles that I've bottled up. One thing that became clear to me is that as Zen became more and more scarce, my ability to express myself, both artistically and socially, did as well. So what happened? Why'd I stop feeling attached to the character I always identified as since joining the fandom in 2007?

The point Zen started to disappear was when my personal fursona became my business persona and my business ferret became my pleasure ferret!

As I started finding success with my projects, the once small projects I had started grew large enough that they needed a steady source of income to maintain. As such, it became important to me to maintain my social image and please audiences and supporters. This meant I had to change how I viewed and interacted as my own fursona, since Zen is my most known identity and changing that would be detrimental to my goals. I'd take more time reading over my posts and journals before posting, sometimes deciding to scrap it all together if it could potentially risk pushing my supporters away. I stopped talking about personal things that meant a lot to me. There were no more ramblings on random things that interested me, no more convention recaps, no personal takes on matters I was passionate about, and no mentioning or talk of my own feelings. Zen no longer expressed me. Instead, I conformed to everyone else's viewpoint of him...

The stress of conforming to an image projected on me by others OR created myself as an expectation is crippling for me. When I fall short of expectations, I can't help but see that as failure and failure is unacceptable to me when others invest in you. It leaves me feeling like I've let everyone down and that feeling can be intense enough that I shut down and withdraw for months. The reason why is the longer I'm withdrawn, the more I fall behind my expectations and the feeling of failure compounds and this cycle repeats until I find some way to break it. This creates long periods of time where I'm not drawing or being active... which hurts my business and once again enforces a sense of failure. This doesn't even factor in the current state of social media, AI artwork, and other personal life issues!

As it became more and more stressful to be Zen, I slowly withdrew from the personality and associated myself more with Luthor, a character I made to represent my anxiety disorders and the stresses of abandoning one's self to maintain an image for the sake of being a successful adult. Kind of seems obvious when it's put that way, huh?

So if you were ever curious what happened to the mouse or why Luthor sort of took over my FA page, it's simply too stressful for me to be the Zen people want right now and I feel more comfortable being Luthor these days. That being said, I don't want to switch my name and everything over to Luthor and I certainly don't want that to be the end of Zen. His absence has taught me something very valuable about how I want to handle my artwork and such going forward.


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