Today I want to talk to you guys about fan culture. Now when some people think of fan culture they think of Tumblr fandoms where there's a lot of weird shit and drama floating around. Although I used to be part of such fandoms (except I never involved myself with drama), it's not what I want to talk about today. I want to talk about the impact something like franchise or a band can have on your life. For the better, in my case.
Okay, first let's jump back in the past. I'm 13, I'm at the start of puberty, and I'm just trying to fit in. I want to be one of the cool kids, I want to be popular. I want to go to parties. But I don't fit in. I'm not popular. And people only invite me to parties to be nice. I start to think about all of this, and realise that I am unhappy. Mostly because I don't fit in, but also because fitting in means pretending to be someone I'm not. So what do you do then?
Move forward to age 14. I'm starting to understand that I like certain things that girls my age don't like. From age 10 or so I've liked superheroes, but when I was around 12 I put that aside because it didn't fit in with the whole "popular girl" thing I wanted. But now that I put the popular thing aside, I get back into superheroes. And fantasy. And sci-fi. And I start watching this show called Being Human, which is a sci-fi show. Still my favourite. I'm on twitter, and I find a group of people, mostly adults, who love the show too. I start talking to them, and I befriend them. For the first time in my life I felt accepted without having to change myself. And the fact that these adults are just as silly as I am gives me the idea that maybe you don't have to become a boring adult.
Age 15, I'm getting the hang of this. I'm deep into Marvel, and I've discovered Tumblr. Here I find people my age with the same interests. At the same time, I've started Twitter RP, and made lots of friends on Twitter from all over the world with the same interests. My entire social life is online. I have a few friends at school, but they mostly have different interests, so I can't really talk about my interests with them. My parents are getting concerned because I spend so much time online. I get that concern now, though. But they have to understand, that online I felt accepted and understood. I made so many friends, whom i still talk to. Including the adults from Being Human. it gave me so much joy. But at the same time, I feel things change. I start to get depressed.
Age 16. I graduate and as a present I get to go to London with my mom. I planned it so that I could go to London Comic Con. It was the first time I cosplayed, too. At the convention I felt so happy. So many people in cosplay, people who were just like me. God, thinking about it makes me smile. This overjoyed feeling of "these are my people". This feeling of finally fitting in without getting judged. It's the reason why I still go to cosplay conventions.
Age 17. I go to London Comic Con again, and this time I go by myself. Or well, to London. Because I'm staying with two of my British internet friends. It was the most amazing thing to meet them. Skip forward a little bit, I start to get into bands. And I attend my first concert. I also notice that I'm still pretty down, and I struggle with it a lot. I sometimes feel suicidal. But luckily my internet friends are always there to cheer me up and tell me they love me. It helps a lot. Also the happiness I found in tv shows such as Doctor Who and Sherlock, and pretty much all Marvel movies. Because god, I'm such a Marvel nerd.
Age 18. I get anti-depressants. They help a lot. What also helps is that I get more and more into the music of Twenty One Pilots. Lyrics like "our brains are sick but that's okay" makes me feel more at peace with my depression. Because it's nothing to be ashamed of. Or lyrics like "the sun will rise and we will try again", "stay alive, stay alive for me", and all the lyrics of their song "Migraine." There isn't a music artist I relate more to than Twenty One Pilots. Their lyrics show how I feel, and they give me power. Power in my mental illness. I attended two of their concerts, and during both concerts I truly felt understood. It's amazing what music can do. At the same time, I learn on Twitter about different genders and sexualities. I find out I'm asexual and agender, and honestly? I finally felt like things were starting to make sense. I realised there are people out there who feel the same as me, and I feel understood once again.
Age 19. by now I've moved out, and I've started to make friends. I met most of them at a cosplay meet-up, which I nearly didn't go to because of my social anxiety. But I'm so glad I did. Because there I met people who are just as passionate about things like superheroes, anime, tv shows, music, and more, just like I am. They listen to me when I ramble on and on about my interests, and I do the same for them. I also start to attend more cosplay conventions, and meet more people just like me. I notice that now that I'm being surrounded by like-minded people, I feel a lot happier.
And here we are now, age 20. I'm writing this and I take a moment to look around my room. I have a large Avengers poster, and a blueprint of Tony Stark's Iron Man suit on my wall. Because Iron Man is my favourite hero. I honestly can talk for hours about him. Or any other Marvel character, for that matter. On my other wall I have a bunch of anime posters, because yeah, I'm into that. I also have some figures, two from Marvel and one from an anime. I have a Harry Potter wand, a Sonic Screwdriver from Doctor Who, and around 25 plush animals. Some of them are Pokémon, which match the Pokémon cards I have on my door. And then I have some fan culture art, and some comic books and manga's lying around. Long story short, I have a lot of merch.
Fan culture helped me realise that I just need to be myself to be happy. It helped me find friends that care about me. Heck, I even met my boyfriend though Twitter RP, which is based on fan culture. I'm more comfortable with who I am and what I like than ever before, and it's all thanks to those fictional things out there I found my outlet in.
I have people tell me that I need to grow up. That I'm 20 and I can't cosplay forever, and can't hide in my fictional world forever. Well it's not hiding. It's a part of what makes me me. And when I hear those things, I look at the friends I made through Being Human. All of them adults with a job, some even a family. All of them nerds. Some of them even cosplay. So I guess it's fair to say that I owe part of my life to fan culture. Because without it, I'd be miserable. At the end of the day, it's important to do what you love. Because pretending to be someone you're not is never gonna make you feel happy.
Is there anything that helped you through life? Let me know!