I grew up in fandoms, I bounced from Buffy to Xena and found friends, fun and self-acceptance through fandom. It was a good place to be awkward in, a good place to try to find yourself, your interests and even your sexuality. That doesn’t mean that you agreed with every other person, or that all of you saw things from the same perspective, but somehow those differences only added to the feeling of family. You rallied together, strong as a group where as individuals you saw a lot of bullshit and felt often very lost. And you know that the thing you loved wasn’t the be all end all of interests or ways to spend your spare time, but it was the thing that resonated with you. Which also gave you an understanding for how others had a similar relationship with other hobbies. Maybe you yourself didn’t understand the joys of stamp collecting, but you still understood and respected having that kind of joy in something. So not only were you a family in your own fandom, but you understood the other families similar to yours that existed around you, and you appreciated them for what they offered other people.
Today though I’ve seen no fandom that looks, feels or acts like family for years. It’s taken on the shape of religion instead. It seems to be a deeply toxic environment where there is a lot of victimisation and hypocrisy. There is a canon and a fanon canon both must be held sacred. Or else you will suffer the consequences. People do not seem to care for each other, they call one another out instead. And people do not seem interested in sharing an experience, only to preach their own way of interacting with and loving the thing itself. It’s such a stark contrast to what I grew up with. It such a stark contrast to what I used to love.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just my own age that’s setting in. Which I know is a lie in itself, because the reasons my old fandoms felt like home were because people of all ages took part of the experience. Anyhow I can’t help feeling as if something has been lost. Worst part is that I don’t know how to retrieve it either.
I don’t understand this idea that you need to be constantly validated by those around you. It’s such a foreign concept to me. I do not understand what, if anything, it could possibly add to my life. Maybe I’m broken in the sense that I grew up lesbian in a world where that’s not something that comes with validation. No one will ever bounce homosexuality back at you as a positive. You come to terms with it on your own and you find pride in it on your own. But even if I had grown up straight I don’t think I’d understand. I am who I am. There is no validation that will in any way enrich my identity. It just doesn’t work that way. My identity is mine, it’s my own little world that will be affected by those around me, but ultimately it will always stand on its own two legs. Because I am not who others see me as, I am me. Even when others aren’t around me I still exist. I’m not a self-fulfilling prophecy, I am an independent person. Everything around that is superfluous. Sure it has an effect. But it’s still not synonymous. Validation does not make identity or in any way fortify it.
I do want to be appreciated, though. I think that’s a human need, to some extent. To be appreciate and to feel like you make a difference. But I’ve never wanted to be appreciated for who I am, I want to be appreciated for what I do. And maybe that’s why I do not understand validation especially as it appears in gender theory currently. Because validation seems to be the one current running through most of that ideology, based on the static self of the individual and not on the individual’s actions and/or behaviour. It’s a dead sort of validation of your body as an object and not of you as an agent with a will. I don’t know, to me that feels fundamentally wrong. I am flesh, but flesh is nothing, there’s nothing to validate, it’s just a physical reality. But to receive appreciation for the actions you perform with this lump of bio matter on the other hand — that’s, that feels good. And not just good, it feels empowering.
I don’t know, I just feel like actions should speak louder than matter. I feel we should be more than objects. Judged on and appreciated for our actions, as opposed to the abstract validation of a sense of self.
It’s a random candle lit evening just as the holiday is coming to a close and reality is taking hold again. But the thing is there is no sadness. No anxiety. I am feeling good about returning to “reality”, and getting to create new everyday routines to implement. It’s a very good feeling actually. I really am looking forward to creating a new normal. That’s a sign that I had a truly refreshing holiday, one that filled me with energy and a renewed sense of life. I found some much needed inspiration.
Maybe the reason this one felt so good is because I had a tough spring and last year my holiday wasn’t really a holiday, it was more lazy days at home and it wasn’t enough I realise now. Because even if I did nothing spectacular this year I still spent three weeks in places that are not my apartment, that do no smell, feel and look mundane.
The only thing I regret is not having read more books, because that would have been nice. In a way it would have been nice to have written a bit too, but I still can’t feel any deep sense of regret, because the holiday made sure that I had enough energy to write now. And ultimately that’s more important.
Hopefully I’ll keep hold of this feeling for a while longer. It would be nice if I could ride out this next month with it in my backpack. So to speak. And if I can manage that then maybe I’ll get to read a few more books now and write more pages of nonsense than I had anticipated. Maybe even revisit bucket lists and my bullet journal. All of those small creative routines to create organisational skills where there might not have been a lot of it to begin with. Who knows.
But bottom line, I’m happy about returning to every day life and that’s the greatest gift any holiday can give you.