The Dragon Princess - Chapter Two

The Joy of Fandom

The Joy of Fandom: Pop culture, community, and cosplay. Photo credit: JFP Photography.

A few weekends ago I was able to do something incredible: I took three days to go dress up as fictional characters and have fun with other people doing the same thing. If I were to show you pictures from the event, you may have one of three reactions. Shocked and weirded out by the strange costumes and colors, curious but also kind of put off by the concept, and so excited to tell me about the conventions you’ve gone to and plan to go to. Welcome to the world of fandom: the community aspect of pop culture from around the world.

Some people are legitimately shocked and somewhat scared by the fact that others and myself enjoy dressing up like this. They see it as immature, irrational, or just plain weird. Why would you want to dress up as a fictional character? Someone who has no direct impact on the world. Most of these people usually aren’t among the fandom crowd. They see sensibility in reality and everyday life, which there’s nothing wrong with doing that. However, I’d like to address this viewpoint. Yes, it can seem strange and like we’re trapped in our own little reality. But the truth is, that isn’t what’s going on. Instead, I’d like to show the other side of cosplay and conventions.

Yes, dressing up as fictional characters seems like a weird way to spend a weekend. Yet thousands participate in each fandom convention each year. That amounts to millions of people, not just in the U.S. but also around the world. So obviously, dressing up as fictional characters for a weekend isn’t unpopular. In fact, in the five years I’ve been going to the convention in Pittsburgh, attendance has jumped from a little over 5,000 to almost 9,000. And if that’s the jump for a smaller convention, then others have jumped just as much or more. It’s gotten more popular for comic cons, especially with the recent superhero movies and the revival of Star Wars. And with this popularity comes more publicity and more people dressing up as fictional characters for a weekend.

It isn’t just young people who attend conventions either. People young and old, men and women, from all walks of life participate in cosplay each year, sometimes going to multiple conventions a year. And yes, most of them happen to be young adults, but a good many of them are also between 30-50 years old. That’s what makes cosplay, and fandoms, so fascinating. No matter where they’re from, what they believe, or how old they are, everyone manages to get along and laugh and have fun. It’s something unique to the fandom community that makes it special. Not many other communities outside of the fandom community can say that they bring people together like that.

And that’s the beautiful thing. Fandom is such a unique phenomena, spanning so many different sub-communities and so many people. Most sub-communities appreciate each other despite age or class or gender. It’s the essence of what can possibly be called a true community. Yes, there can be fighting between and even within sub-communities. But no community is perfect either. And I think that’s what makes fandom so special. It’s a tight-knit community spanning countries, ages, genders, and worldviews. Sure we fight, but there still isn’t anything that can truly make the worldwide fandom community fall apart. And I think that’s the real joy of fandom.

The Dragon Princess - Chapter Two

Why Relaxing Is So Important

When you're swamped with work, relaxing is one of the most important things to do to stay sane

When you’re in college or out on your own in the real world, you can get really busy really fast. Work piles up, friends want to hang out, deadlines get closer, and your sanity slowly fades away with every passing week. Busyness is a necessary evil for us to learn and grow as individuals, especially as young adults. But it isn’t good to become obsessed with being busy. Relaxing is essential to keeping those last strings of sanity from disappearing. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to find time to relax. But it is important to find time after the busyness calms down.

A few weeks ago was one such occasion for me. I spent the entirety of the weekend before writing a paper 5-7 page due Tuesday, editing another paper due Monday, all while studying for an exam in a class I’m not enjoying all that much. Most nights I was getting to bed as late as 2 am and waking up between 7:30 and 8 am. And on the Friday that week, I also had another 8 page paper I had half-written, and another exam late in the day. So suffice to say that whole week was full of nothing but pain and sleep deprivation. And I’ve only just recently recovered.

It didn’t help that the deadlines snuck up on me, but not making the time to relax and plan was my biggest problem. Instead of splitting up the tasks into smaller chunks, I rushed into all of the tasks, trying to pace myself through each one. In the end I managed to get everything done on time, but at the cost of my well being. Taking some time to organize and setting aside time for relaxing would have been better. But I didn’t do that. So my relaxing time came after everything was over. It did make it easier to relax afterward, but it did cost me a bit of my sanity.

Next time, I’ll be splitting up the tasks and making time to relax. For now, I’ll go through the rest of the school year, and make sure I’m aware of what’s due when. It’s a good habit to build up, especially for after graduation. Out in the real world, there aren’t always chances to relax before the next big project is due. So developing good work habits in college is important for good work habits after college. At the end of the day, though, there’s nothing wrong with taking a little break and watching a video, playing a quick game, or even reading a chapter or two in a book. Until next time, and make sure to take a break every once in a while.

(This weekend, I will be at a convention for Japanese pop culture in Pittsburgh. If you guys want to see updates, check out my Instagram and Twitter feeds for pictures, videos, and news from the convention. I’ll have a vlog for you guys by Wednesday, and a post about it next week. Have a good weekend!)