Fandoms are special. Ignore all the teeny bopper fangirls who care only about how hot the celebrity is. Ignore those fangirls who like to hate on other fangirls who don’t share their love for the same ship. And you’ll find yourself completely immersed in a world where it’s ok to be broken, where it’s ok to feel lost, where it’s ok to have absolutely no clue what you’re doing.
That’s the power of fandom. Growing up, I never let myself fully immerse in my fandoms because I was told that they were a waste of time and money. But in just one year I’ve discovered just how life-changing fandom can really be. I know I’m not the only one who’s been changed by their fandom of choice and I want to offer a helping hand to those who still remain unconvinced or scared to fully dive in.
I know joining a fandom can be scary and intimidating. But it’s oh so worth it.
It Helps Keep Me Grounded
Go into my mind and you’ll find a desolate battlefield. I’m talking about World War II style with fire and smoke everywhere. Airplanes flying overhead and sirens going off nonstop. Yep. Not a pretty picture right?
Fandoms act as the soft voice in the distance bringing me out of the devastation. It acts as the hand that helps pull me out of my own head and remind me of what’s around me. Hopping onto Twitter and seeing a cute dorky video from one of my favorite stars or reading about the struggles of someone in the fandom reminds me that what’s happening in my mind isn’t real.
What’s real is this laptop. It’s the coffee by my side. It’s my friends. And it’s the traffic, that no matter how much I hate it, I can’t help but love because it reminds me that I’m alive. And I’m here. I’m not in my head. And as long as I’m here, I can keep fighting.
It Gives Me Hope
Yes, I know the characters you see in TV shows aren’t real, but they’re realistic. Their inner demons are ones that I’ve been battling for years. Sure, we have different situations and circumstances but seeing them battle and fight against things that I am also dealing with gives me hope. It shows me that I’m not the only one fighting and I’m not any weaker because my struggles are “first world problems”.
You can have the world at your fingertips and still feel like you deserve none of it. You can be surrounded by people who love you and still feel like a monster. Fandom helps remind me that there are people, strangers, out there who genuinely care about you. You’d be surprised how impactful a simple “#akf” or “you can do this” can be for one’s psyche.
It Reminds Me That We Are Human Beings, Not Doers
Human beings aren’t perfect. But we want to be.
We’re not robots. We’re not technology. Sometimes I’m so wrapped up in trying to be everything that everyone wants me to be that I often forget to think about what I actually want. I forget that I’m allowed to make mistakes and that making mistakes doesn’t make me a bad person. Watching my favorite characters make mistakes and screw up big time really helps. I know that sounds so bad, because why should I take joy in other people’s screw-ups and mistakes? But knowing that despite being brave and caring and loving, these characters also hurt the ones they love, they also fight with themselves, it helps me feel just a little bit better. These characters also lie, cheat, steal, even kill. They’re not perfect. But they’re fiction, they can be perfect. But they’re not, because that’s not realistic.
It Gives Me A ‘Family’
When Linkin Park’s lead singer Chester Bennington suddenly passed away by suicide, I was absolutely heartbroken. His death hit me really hard and I found myself grieving a complete stranger. But with the help of the Linkin Park family, I’m still here. The unity that happened among Linkin Park fans worldwide was utterly breathtaking. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t the only one mourning the loss of someone who changed my life but I’ve never met before.
Another great example: the Supernatural community.
Despite the awful awful drama that happens in this community, it’s truly a family. The Facebook groups I’m a part of has quickly become not only a way for me to discuss freely and obsessively about a TV show that I love, but it also is now a place where I go to when I need some guidance and assurance that everything’s going to be ok.
It Opens Up My Mind
Lastly, when you jump from being a simple fan to a fangirl, it’s almost like packing your bags and moving into a big city. You’re no longer around people you know and love. Instead, you find yourself surrounded by people with different upbringings and life experiences.
That simple sarcastic joke you always love telling is now an offensive racist dig towards someone. But it’s all part of the learning process. If you pause to pay attention to these different perspectives and why someone finds something offensive, they can help you understand the human psyche better.
So despite all the gripes and complaints about social media, I’m grateful for it. I love reading about different perspectives and experiences from people and hopping on social media daily reminds me that I’m not alone in my lifestyle and perspectives but that my perspectives and outlook on life also isn’t the only way.
My favorite thing though since actively joining fandoms is the fact that now, I always have a reason to keep looking forward rather than back. New music, exciting games, lifelong experiences! This excitement for the future is something I’ve never really experienced before. I have fandoms to thank for this.
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