In any friendship and relationship, having at least one thing in common is a must. That's how fandoms are formed, too! When you and a group of people have the same interest in spazzing over an idol, group, or even a series, you're forming or joining a fandom.
In the online world, you would either make a separate account for your fandom or you would use your real account while interacting with them. Either way, being in a fandom is more than just a fangirl experience. In my case, it helped me become who I am right now. I learned how to cope with my social anxiety more and motivate myself while being surrounded by appreciative people virtually. Even though I haven't met most of them in person, I treasure each of them so much as friends. To further explain, these are the ways that they unconsciously saved me from my misery.
1. They taught me how to socialize.
One of the things you learn being around the people you have the same interest with is socializing in the right way. Unlike being in a public gathering where you are not comfortable to open up to other people, being able to speak your mind online is much easier. Just post something you love and people will respond instantly. During the years when I started liking K-pop, specifically 2NE1 and BIGBANG, I didn't know that I'm already subconsciously joining a fandom just by tweeting about my feels! Those were also the years when I wasn't aware of my social anxiety yet. I thought I was just shy, or rather an introvert. It was when I met my "mutuals" that I became more comfortable starting a conversation since I don't mind talking about the same topic about our idols over and over again.
2. They're always there during my dark days.
In the days where we just want to lock ourselves in our room all day, sometimes all we need is someone who wouldn't mind listening to us ranting about our day or opening up about our struggles. When I'm having a bad day, I just go to my stan account or fandom group page, and everything immediately feels better. I guess the thought that at least half of my world is okay makes me feel relaxed when I'm stressed or sad about a certain event. One time, I tweeted that I'm having a bad day and shared the context of it, and my fandom friends all tweeted me with sympathy and cheerful GIFs. After talking to them, it felt really good to let it all out. Although they're not actually physically beside me, it's nice to know that there are people who cared.
3. They made me feel that my opinions matter.
Being in a fandom is like having a new family that you can talk to. It's nice to fangirl alone and all, but it feels better when you can share your ideas and they are there to make you feel like your opinions matter. Instead of shutting you down, they would be there either to support you or improve your point. The fandom that I'm in never made me feel like what I'm saying isn't relevant to what's going on, and I think that's one of the things that makes joining a fandom more advisable. We're in a society of people wanting to fit in, and the fandom would make you feel that you are appreciated in the best way possible.
4. They became a good distraction.
When you say distraction, you immediately assume that it's something bad that pulls you away from your studies or your career—but it can actually be a good thing, too. Once in a while, it's good to do something that you enjoy when you just want to escape. In my experience, my fandom became the distraction I needed from the stress that was getting from my studies. They saved me from being anxious and unmotivated. When I want to go away for awhile and I know I can't do that physically, I just go to my stan account and fangirl with them!
5. They inspired me to work harder.
Whether it's about your grades or your goals, I know that it feels good to have people around you supporting you in the things you wanted to do and being proud of the things that you've already achieved. My fandom believes that what any fandom member achieves is an achievement of the whole fandom. From being a rising artist to making heart-melting fan videos, I've met a lot of talented people in it. And watching them grow and reach their goals make me want to work harder in my chosen craft. It's also nice that when we all meet together and catch up, I have something to share to them that I know helped make the fandom better like spreading the love for our idols.
Even though some people look at fandom as just a group of people who spazz about something together, it's definitely more than that. It became a group of people who saved me my emotional and mental health, and, for that, I will always be thankfu.
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