I read a book last weekend called Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (it came out on Tuesday) about a girl named Cath who is just starting college and secretly a “famous” fan fiction writer. The series she writes is based on a friendship in a Harry Potter-like series, and she has thousands of people who comment on her pieces every day. Her end point is coming in a few months when the true author of the series is releasing the final book in the collection. Cath wants to have her final piece published before that. As she starts in a new school with new people and a twin sister who wants nothing to do with her, Cath buries herself in this world and this goal and it really takes her out of real life.
The book made me think a lot about fandom and escapism and how we deal with all of these things.
We may not be writing fanfiction, but as a Disney fan and a Disney Parks fan, and someone who is not five years old, I have been dealing with my fandom for a long time. In high school, I wore all the t-shirts but didn’t talk about it too much because I did get made fun of and it got old to explain the same thing all the time. (“You don’t understand!”) Post-graduation and starting a grown up job, it wasn’t easy to explain that I was going on a Disney vacation every time I took some vacation days. (“Are you going to wear those Mickey ears?”) And even when I started this blog. I guess everyone blogs these days but there is a certain level of unbelivability radiating from the other side when you tell people you belong to a community that loves Disney and writes about Disney and tweets about it all the time. (It sounds like a cult, I guess.)
At some point, you just have to own up and say “Hi I’m [your name here] and I am a Disney fan. Deal with it.” Sometimes people will be interested just because they are, others won’t give a shit, and then there are the times when the magic happens and you uncover a brand new adoring fan like yourself.
Unlike Cath in the book, being a part of this community and writing this blog hasn’t limited to me sitting in a room and writing on my computer. I’ve met some amazing people in real life, who have become honest to goodness true friends. People I make plans with for dinner and drinks, text on a daily basis, and, most importantly (I think), found others things in common with. That’s the real key. Disney has become just an avenue to people of similar temprements, morals, lifestyles, and other hobbies.
For all the good it has done, though, there are the downfalls. Fandom makes me a bad housekeeper (apartment keeper?), it sometimes makes me ignore my husband, my brain has been trained to think I need to post 4x a week when sometimes I’m just tired and burnt out and don’t want to. I am no one NEAR the internet celebrity Cath was in her book, so I can only imagine the amount of pressure she put on herself to deliver. Most of the time, I’m mostly concerned with not feeling like a “failure” to myself (or my dad, who is, like I always say, my number 1 reader).
In the past few weeks I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who I have met through Disney blogging and some very interesting tid-bits have come to the surface:
- The possibility of forgoing anything Disney in your life for an entire year. First, can you imagine the money you would save? Second, can any one of us really do this?
- The Disney bubble and when it turns into a bad thing. I don’t believe it can be your life. I believe we all need other things, and when you do make it that important, your self-importance can rocket to unrealistic heights. In the grand scheme of things, being king or queen of this bubble means what exactly? So perspective is important.
- Maybe this goes back to number 1 but choosing “Plan B” and not traveling to a Disney park. There could be guilt because of the nostalgic pull or the comfort of routine but how many other things could you be sacrificing if you are doing the same thing all the time?
I guess all of this sounds like of negative and sad, doesn’t it? It really shouldn’t. Like anything, fandom has its limits. Maybe this is just a personal choice of mine. Does loving Disney or anything related to this company mean that I believe too much in fantasy? I’m not sure if that’s the case for me. I like the feeling of history. I like the storytelling. I like feeling like age does not matter and life can be about trying awesome food and spinning on tea cups (maybe not in that order) and saying hi to Mickey Mouse because, well, he is Mickey Mouse.
Could I have most of those elements in other places? Sure. But I’m not sure if I would have blogged about them for 2-plus years already. Or felt curious enough to know more. Though, if I went to a place every single summer with my parents for 10 days at a time? Maybe I would feel invested enough, maybe I would want to make sure I never lost that feeling of having a second home. In the end, it’s that feeling, those memories, and the desire to make new ones that make me a fangirl.