On Fan Communities

This is a post I’ve actually wanted to write for a long time, but it was a little tricky, technically being part of this community of people. But I have some thoughts (okay, more like a rant) on the subject that I just need to get out.

I am a part of a number of fan communities, I would say. I’m a concert fan, a Game of Thrones fan, a Doctor Who fan… and those are the big ones. As in, I’ll buy tickets to shows the second they go on sale, or I’ll watch the episode as soon as it airs and have a lot of fangirl-esque feels and fan theories to discuss with other fans of the show.

And okay, maybe I’m just becoming an old, grouchy adult, but I just cannot enjoy certain fan communities. They actually make me want to not associate with those people, because of how intense they are.

To me, fandom crosses a line when the entire thing becomes a competition, and when people put “being the biggest fan” ahead of being, y’know, a decent human being to others. It’s not about genuinely liking and enjoying something, but rather becomes this competition where you have to prove that you’re the biggest fan, and will do anything to earn your title and gain a reaction from people like, “wow, that’s incredible – I wish I could have the money/time to do that!”

Because honestly, I’ve been that person. For example, I love Firefly and am working my way to collecting all of their autographs. But at the same time, the further in I get, the more I realize I’m spending a lot of money for 2 minutes with a celebrity who will forget about me in literally 5 seconds. Is it worth it?

Another fun example that I hate talking about, but will talk about anyway: Jersey Boys.

I saw that god damn musical over forty times. Why? Because I was an impressionable teenager who thought it was so impressive to meet the cast members a million times. “Oh wow, these people remember who I am; that’s so cool!” I cringe every time I look back. That’s about when I realized it was better to cultivate relationships with people to whom I actually mattered. And made it my life goal to focus on the people who return the interest and care that I put into them.

But circling back to what I was saying before. I was never rude to people to get these autographs, or use them to prove how desirable my life is (spoiler alert: it’s really not).

This is the reason why I stopped attending bookish events and eventually gave up book blogging altogether.

The people are far too intense. The needing every book that comes out, even if they can’t read it in time. The need to go to every event and meet every author. The constant social media posts. It’s not about discussing books and sharing recommendations and building a network, anymore. Now it’s about rewarding those who are the loudest with more views. It all just feels so fake and attention-seeking. And I don’t know where I fit into that community anymore.

Don’t get me wrong – there are a few people who I can call friends. But I have honestly never been to a book event where people didn’t make me feel uncomfortable, or where guests were legit just absolute dicks for the sake of getting more/better free swag. It’s ridiculous. And quite frankly, it’s exhausting to be around these people.

Why put myself through this for the sake of writing a blog post about it that no one will read anyway? who am i going to these events for?

Fan Expo is usually my favourite time of year, but now I’m just not sure I want to go. Photos and autographs seem like a huge waste of money, and the insane crowds don’t seem worth it. Maybe I just don’t care about things as much as I used to, or maybe I’m reaching like, the old cranky lady stage of my life before I’m thirty.

I just feel like I used to be so timid and enjoyed watching people go nuts over something that seems so small in the grand scheme of the universe, but now if I go to these things I won’t be able to keep my mouth shut and I’ll just tell off the people off who sneak ahead in lines, or take more than their fair share of swag. Fan communities encourage craziness inherently (most of the time, with no bad intent), and I don’t really want to be a part of it, on any level.

I think I’m just really fed up with people who are so focused on material things and who feel entitled to these things because they are “a huge fan”.

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Ten Things I Learned in 2016

I feel like this hasn’t really been a good year for a lot of people. But it’s almost over! And although 2016 has been one of the most emotionally and mentally stressful for me, I’ve also learned quite a bit about myself and how I want to conduct the rest of my life. So here we go.

1. Take chances. Sometimes you’ll surprise yourself.

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We had to find an internship for my final semester of school, and I was terrified I’d be the only one without an internship. But I found one! And it went okay. Did some networking, got some social media experience for my resume. I didn’t think I could do it, but pushed myself, and ended up in the perfect internship for me.

2. Put 110% effort in… not everything you do.

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I’m the kind of person that puts all of my effort into everything. Anything I do is Michelle certified 10/10 effort. But this year I got burnt out to the point of mental exhaustion. One of my teachers sat me down and actually told me, “if you redo this assignment so you can get higher than an 80%, I will be mad at you. Go home, relax. Like, don’t do any homework. Don’t do chores. Don’t worry. Just relax. Do nothing.” So now I kind of take that advice and apply it to other things in my life. It’s okay to take a mental break – watch TV, play video games, veg out in bed. Meditation and learning how to chill out has been a huge breakthrough for me.

3. Broken hearts fucking suck.

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I’ve never been heart-broken before. I mean, I’ve liked people who never liked me back, but there was some acceptance there. This was a case of “You’re with someone who you shouldn’t be with, and yes you love him but you need to get out of this so you can grow as a person –  thank me later”. It hurt a lot. I’ve never been that depressed before. I’m fine now, but at the time, I didn’t want to see how I could be okay without my best friend. It’s given me a new appreciation for being hurt – and trying extra hard not to hurt other people.

4. Adventure is fun, but being reckless is stupid.

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After the break-up, I was reckless. I wanted to adventure and try new things. But at the time, that meant going out until 4am with my friends, not remembering how I got back to her house, or going on dates with people just to get out of the house and keep my mind off things. It took me meeting the right boy at the right time to realize that I should be respected and respect myself, as well. I deserve to make relationships and friendships with people, and that in itself was sort of a great adventure. Now my adventures are cultivating friendships and trying new things that don’t hurt me.

5. The best things are worth waiting for.

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Look at this guy. My beautiful boy. I can’t even. I’ll give you the cliffnotes version: Luke and I grew up down the street from each other. Same grammar school, same high school. I always knew who he was, always thought he was such a cute dork. Never spoke to him. We met on Tinder after this year’s rough break-up when I was trying to meet new people and get a fresh start, and he was the nicest person. No boy has ever been so respectful and kind and gentlemanly to me. Neither of us wanted a “relationship” at our first encounter, but we fell pretty hard and it’ was downhill from there. I sort of believe in fate now, I don’t know. But we didn’t rush into anything, and now I am the happiest I have ever been in a partnership. ❤

6. Act confident and you’ll be confident.

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Fun fact: the girl who runs this blog hates herself most of the time. It’s something I’ve been working on fixing this year. It’s also been helpful to have friends and a partner in my life now who are supportive. I got hired on full-time at my student job, and was given a lot more responsibilities and that one thing sort of made me feel like a superstar. It’s a desk job, nothing fancy shmancy – but I acted the confident part of someone who deserved the job and now I have this job I love, and am actually pretty good at.

I also overthrew the girl in my head who said I couldn’t do anything athletic and ran a 5k this year, so that was pretty awesome. I’m going to keep this confident streak up through 2017 because it opens a lot more doors than when you hate on yourself all the time.

7. Friend and family bonds must  be cared for, not assumed.

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I don’t care what people say about friendships and family relationships being “meant to be” or “if you’re related to them, you have to love them”. If I’ve learned one thing this year, this may be the most important one. Do not force friendships with people who clearly don’t want to be your friend. Do not feel tied to family members who mentally and emotionally bring you down. If they’re not supportive, find yourself a “family” that is – even if that family is a group of friends.

I’ve spent this year nurturing the friendships with the few people I do appreciate and love. I’ve also spent this year re-connecting with old friends and strengthening those bonds, or talking to new people who have grown to be some of my best friends. Find people you can rely on, blood relative or not, and surround yourself with them – I’ve been a lot less insecure this year, and it’s because I put my trust in people who I can actually rely on.

8. I’m an adult.

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Guys, I  turned 25 this year. I graduated college. I got a full-time job. I’m looking at apartments now. Like. I’m a full-blown adult. I’m adulting all over the place and can’t hide behind the “I’m still a kid” thing anymore. This year was the first time I’ve thought about the independence of adult life and not felt super sick and anxious. I feel like I can do it. It’s very exciting.

9. Feeling beautiful on the outside doesn’t make you vain.

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I grew up being told that girls who were into makeup and clothes were dumb and trying to fill voids in their life with lipstick and shoes. That was a mix between teen girl movies making all the “bad guys” look like the Plastics from Mean Girls, and my family knowing I’m a weirdo who had no friends, so they tried to comfort me with: “You’re better than those girls, you don’t need them”. Well. 2016 was the year I embraced my femininity and really got into things like fashion and makeup as a form of expression, and let me tell you, it is not dumb on this side. I can be smart and nerdy and still like dresses and shoes. It’s been a fun and eye-opening discovery, to say the least. The fact that I judge people less makes me feel like I’m being judged less. Funny how that works, huh?

10. Live like there is “no day but today”.

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I got my first tattoo this year! In January, the words from RENT’s “Another Day” got etched into my arm as a double reminder: don’t put off until tomorrow what could be said  today, but also, remembering to take things one day at a time and to move at my own pace.

I went on a roller coaster this year even though I was terrified. I went dancing a few times even though it was later than I’d like to be downtown. I met new people and tried a lot of new things just by saying yes when I wasn’t entirely up for an outing. At the same time, I’ve taken a lot of days to myself, staying in bed playing games and saying no to people when I need to take a mental break. “No day but today” is a reminder to live in the moment, but also to take care of myself.

Maybe 2016 wasn’t entirely terrible. A lot of crazy good things happened, and I’ve kind of been inspired to start my own life.

So that’s a huge step for me. How was your year? What are some positives you’re taking into 2017?

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Goodbye, Quiet Girl

I’ve spent a lot of time throughout my life trying to please other people.

As a kid, I was taught to do as I was told and pay attention in class, and I’d get a pat on the head and a gold star.

As a teenager, I had some pretty unfortunate friends who labelled me the “quiet one”. They weren’t terrible people, but they constantly put me down and anytime I tried to state an opinion, I’d get a pat on the head and an “oh dear, Michelle is trying to speak up, isn’t that cute?” My personality wasn’t wanted there, either.

As a young adult in university and college, I was in a couple of unfortunate relationships. One that was highly toxic, wherein he completely suffocated my personality in all ways – trying to make me what he wanted (which was apparently, a clone of himself). One that wasn’t as bad, but we spent all of our time together, so our personalities became one.

I am twenty-five years old and I have no idea who I am.

Any smidgen of my own personality traits that crept through before were just fan-obsessions. I was “the girl who loved musicals” and I threw myself and my entire life into being a musical fan-girl. I was “the girl who loved books”, so I threw myself entirely into being a giant book nerd with the biggest shelf.

Recently, I’ve discovered that being in constant competition with others in this way is almost as toxic as being smothered by peers who are trying to keep you down. I was trying to be the best at these things that I loved, and know the most, and read the most, and be involved in those communities, and along the way, I realized I’d never had the opportunity to find out who I was without these things.

So I stripped them away.

No more friends who keep me quiet and tell me I can never be “that girl who goes on adventures” or “the girl who changes history” or “the girl who demands the attention of the room”. No more hobbies that keep me in competition with a community of people who fight to be the biggest fan of anything.

I’m trying to figure out who I am, and am lucky enough to be in a position where I am surrounded by amazingly supportive friends and have a boyfriend who doesn’t want to change me, and who isn’t threatened by me wanting to be something more than “the quiet girl”.

What have I discovered so far?

I was told my whole life I was too weak to be athletic. I just ran a 5k last month.
I was told growing up that I was smart and was better than pretty “girly” girls. I can be both smart and girly. I’ve discovered that I really enjoy makeup and clothes. And shoes. I like putting things in my head, but I can also like what I put on it.
I was told video games were for boys and I would never be good enough to play with other people. I play video games on my own now, and have a lot of fun shooting aliens. Being good isn’t important.

Basically, I’m discovering a whole lot of hobbies that I was constantly pushed away from, and they’re all things that make up the real Michelle – the one who is doing what makes her happy, not doing things because people tell her to do them (or not do them).

I’m hoping this blog is a reflection of everything I am. Not just one thing. I contain multitudes.

So goodbye, quiet girl. It was nice knowing you, but now it’s my time to shine.