Before we can get into how Fandom shaped who I am today, let's discuss what exactly "fandom" is. The Oxford Dictionary definition of the word "fandom" is: "The state or condition of being a fan of someone or something," or "The fans of a particular person, team, fictional series, etc. regarded collectively as a community or subculture," (Oxford Dictionary). In simple terms, it means the group or community of people who are a fan of something.
Some people think that Fandom only applies to "nerds" who obsess over a TV show or book, and immediately associate "Fandom=Nerd." Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you're a fan of a sports team, you're part of a Fandom. You even wear the jerseys of your favorite players and will plan your day around the big game.
Now, how exactly could just being a fan of something change my life? But, with social media, Fandom has exploded over the past several years compared to when Fandom was first becoming a thing (think of Star Wars and Star Trek fans). If you didn't have friends who were fans as the same stuff as you, you were pretty much on your own. But now, we're able to communicate with people all over the world and discuss our favorite things.
I first started really getting into Fandom when I was about twelve-years-old, and that Fandom was the horror movie genre. Well, the classics, at least, like A Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Child's Play, etc. I started out on a website called deviantART, just talking to other members who loved horror movies just as much as I did. Not only did I go to my first convention because of this Fandom and get to meet the guy who played Freddie Krueger (Robert Englund), but it's also how I met my best friend, who lives on the opposite coast.
Now, from 12 to 19, what Fandoms I was in changed around a lot. From horror movies, it went to Anime, and then to the SuperWhoLock Fandom (that's a fan of Supernatural, Doctor Who, and BBC Sherlock), to Harry Potter.
Being in the Anime Fandom introduced me to the convention scene and it's when I started to cosplay. Cosplay, by definition, is "The practice of dressing up as a character from a film, book, or video game, especially one from the Japanese genres of manga or anime," (Oxford Dictionary). I would go to both local and popular conventions with my friends dressed up as our favorite characters, buy way more art prints than we could probably afford, and wait in two-hour lines to meet a man whose face wasn't even in the Anime, just his face.
It sounds completely foreign to someone who perhaps has never been to a convention before or seen someone cosplay. But to me, those conventions were some of my fondest memories. At one, I was cosplaying as the character Russia from Hetalia, and another cosplayer ended up asking me to participate in a Hetalia Cosplay Panel (a Q&A done in the character you're cosplaying as) because they needed one more person. For just a short hour, as I sat in front of a large group of people and answered questions in a horrible Russian accent, I felt famous, and even more so, confident.
I've also made some of my greatest friends at conventions just by chance. At my first Supernatural Convention, I met two amazing girls who I spent the day with and to this day, we are still friends. Through them, I met even more people who were fans of Supernatural, and I'm friends with them too. And every year, we participate on the same team for G.I.S.H. (the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt ran by Supernatural's Misha Collins).
Unfortunately, in more recent years with school and just an overall busy schedule, I haven't been going to many conventions anymore. If I do, it's usually one big convention a year, so I make it worth-while by buying autograph and photo-op tickets to see my favorite celebrities and to perfect my cosplay.
Since cosplaying as Luna Lovegood from Harry Potter, my world has expanded. With every photo I post on Instagram of me in my cosplay, my follower count goes up. People recognize me as "that one Luna cosplayer." When I go to conventions or out in public like her, people ask to take a selfie with me or kids tug at their parents' sleeves and say, "Look, it's Luna!" Honestly, it's a huge confidence booster to know all of the hard work I put in is enjoyed by someone other than me.
Without Fandom, I wouldn't have half of the friends I have today. I wouldn't have all of the experiences or met the celebrities I've gotten to meet. One thing is for sure, my life would be incredibly boring.
So, no, Fandom is not for the nerds. It's not just for the lonely and obsessed. Fandom is for everyone; it should be an all-inclusive thing. It's about community and making new friends, sharing your ideas about things you love, and above all, having fun.