Anxiety Outlet: How Having a Fandom Saved Me

Recently, I had a conversation with my workmate about the things that make us anxious. She just turned in her resignation and told me that it wasn’t easy. It was depressing for her to make a decision because leaving us—the best of friends she has made in the company—will mean not seeing us every day and giving us more workload.

“Good for you, you don’t seem like the type of person who gets swallowed by depressing feelings,” she added.

I stopped for a moment and told her that wasn’t the case. I, too, am an anxious wreck. I’ve always been. It’s probably because of my environment growing up or that one time I was bullied. Whatever the reason, I was able to make things work out.

How? I got into a fandom and made the right friends.

Where Everything Started

As a child, I’ve always liked dancing. I don’t know how it all started, though, since no one in my family had the talent. I danced wherever and whenever possible, but then reality slapped me in the face when I realized that we can’t afford to always pay for costumes. We’re not rich and I hate people who say that I am, but let’s talk about this topic some other time. I was aware of the fact.

Until now, I regret not giving myself the chance to go for what I truly want. I could’ve looked for ways to earn money, but there weren’t a lot of opportunities during my time. I could’ve applied for a scholarship and took a dance-related course, but I didn’t because of the mentality that I won’t earn much.

It was disheartening to “go with the flow,” but thankfully, I was introduced to a number of Japanese artists by a college friend. I’ve always loved Japanese culture, but I’ve never thought of following a group nor becoming a fan.

It all started with a three-hour break at school. There was nothing to do yet since it was the start of the second semester. My friend and I were bored, so we borrowed another friend’s PSP. Instead of playing, we ended up watching whatever videos she have… and the rest is history.

When You’re Too Busy to Get a Life

Ever since that encounter, I’ve been following Japanese idols, artists, rock bands, seiyuus (voice actors), stage actors, actors/actresses, and models. I also got invested in manga, anime, dramas, and movies.

What fascinated me the most is Japan’s idol culture. Idols do more than sing and dance; they follow strict rules like “no dating” and even the cringeworthy concept of maintaining the “ideal weight.” How their agencies promote them differs, too. They don’t only release concert DVDs and music videos, but also backstage footage (making of) and dance versions.

Live performances and dance versions are what got me deep into the fandom. What’s more is idols start at a young age. You’ll be the witness of their progress and improvement, which is self-motivating if you don’t give up on following them.

I’m the type who can learn a dance by watching videos. In fact, I had a phase when I upload my dance covers online. Unfortunately, due to YouTube’s strict regulations, my account was terminated. I don’t do it on my own anymore, but I still study when I see a choreography that I like.

How Finding the Right People Matters

Many people say that meeting strangers online is dangerous, but that’s not always the case. All you need is to be a good judge of character. Seriously. I’ve made friends who share the same interest in 2008 and from there, my circle grew bigger. We talked about random things, shared personal stories, and met for real. Eventually, we formed a dance group.

We’ve been performing at anime/cosplay conventions and other Japanese-related events, promoting J-music without expecting anything in return. We do get freebies, but we don’t demand payment of any sort. We simply want to be on stage and be an inspiration to others. I guess that’s what you call passion, huh.

As I’ve filled myself with many things to do, I started to think less of the negative. I became restless (in a different way), but that’s a good thing in my case. I’ve also surrounded myself with the right people, so they pick me up right away whenever I feel sad.

You see, people have different ways of coping up. It can be short- or long-term, but what matters is there’s a way. Don’t feel bad about yourself if somebody questions why you’re into something, fandom or not. You shouldn’t do the same either because you don’t know how much that person is struggling.

Here’s to all of you, supporting people who support you. Cheers!

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