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.