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Welcome to the Real World

Every now and then, I get down on myself.

Everyone does, I know. But everyone’s reasons for this vary. Mine do, too, of course, but on rare occasion, the reason for my blues is fandom.

And no, not the “fandom is such a negative place and there are too many flamers out there and people are entitled jerks” fandom thing one sometimes hears about. I honestly don’t have much experience with that. But instead, I get the “hey, wabbit, why do you care so much about fictional things when there are real world things right here that you ought to be paying attention to” blues.

See, sometimes, I think I should spend more time and energy on my “real life” and less on fandom pursuits. I beat myself up that I don’t spend more time doing supposed “adult things” than I do on, say,  cosplay, and I feel badly about my life choices.

But then something like tonight happens. A friend drops by my work and brings me a very small present that would be meaningless to most, but means a great deal to me – purely because it is an in-joke for the Iron Man fandom and for us in particular. And I laugh. A lot. I feel good about myself and my friend and life in general.

And I remember the many dinners spent with people who understand why I rage against a fictional planet in the Star Wars universe (damn you, Sullust!). I recall dancing many nights away with my fellow Hogwarts students at the Yule Ball at Dragon Con, and I smile about the one year I missed that party in favor of the one my friend DJ’d. I remember the reason for that party was that a fan film he’d made had raised over $100,000 for charity. Then the word “charity” reminds me that my own efforts have raised nearly $4000 for charities in the past four years due to a little thing a friend and I made up called the Fandom 5K. I’m reminded of how I completed a triathlon because an actor I like did one.

And I remember a conversation I had once with the Iron Man friend during one of my down times when she reminded me that I want to go back to the UK, but I’m stressed about that because I have so many people there I want to visit, and I know I can’t see them all. These are people I only know through fandom (and with one exception, people I’ve never met in “real life,” but who are dear to me nonetheless).

And I realize that I have friends all over the world who are like family to me. Friends who I’ve known for many years - in some cases nearly a decade - who have brightened many of my days with fanfiction, fan art, vids, blogs, solidarity, and notes of encouragement.

These are real people. Real friends. In real life. With no quotation marks needed.

Because fandom, and all of the wonderful, creative, and joyous people that go with it, is my real life.

And then I remember the most important bit of all:

I’m okay with that.

No. Scratch that.

I’m good with that.

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Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
xfirefly9x
Nov. 28th, 2014 12:29 pm (UTC)
Because fandom, and all of the wonderful, creative, and joyous people that go with it, is my real life.

This is perfect and the part you say about "these are real people, real friends" is so very true. <3

xxx

I've been having similar feels, but mine are more that I've always considered my online life and offline life to be separate. Things have changed with fandom in recent years, though. It's becoming more and more mainstream. But I can't figure out how to meld both "lives" into one, and I don't know if I should, now that it's more socially accepted. You know?
jackwabbit
Nov. 28th, 2014 01:06 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

Now, I'm older than you by a fair bit, and though that rarely means much of anything, I have found that the older you get, the fewer shits you have to give about what other people think. Who cares what's socially accepted? Be who you are.

That said, keeping your online and offline lives separate is prudent. I rarely talk about work online. I mention that I have to work on Twitter, but I never give specifics. Hell, most people don't even know what I do to make my money, and that's a good thing. LJ is different, as it's more private, but I'm still careful. But my online friends know more about my offline life than my "real world" people know about my online life. I'm not on Facebook for a reason. My biologic family, my work people, etc? They don't know I have an LJ. They don't know I have a Twitter. And they certainly don't know my usernames. I simply avoid mentioning those things in mixed company.

They do know I cosplay, and write, and go to cons.

And I couldn't care less what they think about that. But I keep my online identities to myself because so many problems can arise from those getting into the wrong hands. Hell, I shared a fic once with a coworker by printing it out and cutting off the author name. That's how I roll. That part of my life is oddly private, despite anyone being able to see it online in some ways. It's not for Muggle consumption, if that makes sense.

You will meld your lives together over time. You will find what works for you. We all have to find our own way. And nothing gets worse as you get older in my experience. Everything, including things like this, gets better. Everything. I'm sure it peaks later, but I'm not there yet, and I hope I won't be for a long while.
xfirefly9x
Dec. 5th, 2014 09:24 am (UTC)
Sounds like you've got stuff figured out quite well.

For me, it's not so much that I care about what others think, so much as it's my thing and I'm not sure I'm ready or willing to share it?

But yes. I do agree some separation with online and off is definitely required. Just have to wonder how much. Seems that so many others have shifted their lives into some big mass that combines both off and online stuff and it's... really odd to me. I don't know. It's made me wonder about a few things.
jackwabbit
Dec. 6th, 2014 12:21 am (UTC)
Thanks...mostly...sometimes. Enough to know that no one knows what they're doing, anyway. ;)

And I totally get that.
charlie_bz
Nov. 29th, 2014 03:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so with you on this sentiment. I think we're about the same age and sometimes I think am I being totally silly spending my leisure time watching/thinking about fannish stuff? Then I think, what else should I be doing? Worrying about the state of the world?? Everyone has a thing they do to pass the time and keep their brains occupied and happy. I don't know why what we like is labelled as not cool. It's awesome! And, for the most part, the community is filled with really great people!

I do, however, keep my online fannish life completely separate from real life. I don't think I'll ever be comfortable with letting family, friends, and coworkers know that I write fanfic. Isn't that silly??? I don't mind online friends knowing about my real life but I'd hate for real life friends to know about my fannish life.
jackwabbit
Nov. 30th, 2014 05:27 am (UTC)
Yep. Exactly.

I once heard someone say (Wil Wheaton in a blog, I think) that the single most insulting thing one can say to a creative person is "you have too much time on your hands." They went on to say, "Right. Because what I need to do is watch another rerun of Everyone Loves Raymond." And exactly that. Most folks go home and watch TV at night or do a hundred other things. Others build Iron Man armor in their garage. What's the difference? Nothing, except that in my opinion building Iron Man armor takes your whole brain and your body and is actually DOING something and exercising your human-ness, whereas watching something is just that. WATCHING. I'm all for doing, thanks. Enter fandom, where watching is never enough. There is a difference between a Star Trek fan and a Trekkie (I've never cared for "Trekker"), for example. To me, a Star Trek fan watches the show. A Trekkie writes fanfic, blogs, makes fan vids, makes cosplays, geeks out with others, etc - they DO something. And I'm a doer, not a watcher, by nature.

As for keeping things separate, it is both silly and not silly at all. You have to find your own balance. I have found mine, I think. After years of keeping my fan/online life not exactly a secret, but not something I advertised, I now let Muggles in on it to a moderate degree. My coworkers know I cosplay and write fanfic and write for geeky internet sites. I take days off to go to cons, after all, and worry about writing deadlines. They do not know my usernames or that I have an LJ or Twitter, however. So, my real life (which is to say, my non-work life) sharing is selective and while it's not a secret, it's also not something I share openly, because it's oddly private, despite it being online. If you know me, you know who I am and you know about that. But if I just work with you, you don't know me, so you don't know about that. The opposite is less true. My online friends know about my non-online life more. There are many reasons for this, but mostly it's just a level of comfort and less potentially serious consequences.

Oh, and when the occasional person at a con asks me for my "real name," I respond with, "you mean my Muggle name?" Because my real name is wabbit.

*grin*
dragonfly_sg1
Dec. 1st, 2014 03:27 pm (UTC)
THIS. SO. MUCH. THIS. <3 <3 <3

jackwabbit
Dec. 2nd, 2014 05:40 am (UTC)
Love you, mum. :)
dragonfly_sg1
Dec. 3rd, 2014 05:23 pm (UTC)
Love you, too. *squishes tight*
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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