Me at 10 / Me today.
When I was 6 or 7, I discovered Sailor Moon. It was my first and only ever real fandom affliction. I rushed home from school to watch episodes re-air on Cartoon Network, I had dreams about turning out to be a Sailor Soldier, I dressed up as Sailor Moon for Halloween, I sketched out picture after picture of Princess Serenity, I knew the Sailor Soldier’s blood types and food preferences and birthdays. They were more my friends than anyone I knew.
It was probably the only time in my life where it was easy to buy me a gift, because my entire family knew: anything Sailor Moon. I had manga and anime, musical lockets and brooches and Moon Healing wands and Crystal Scepters, both movies, a handful of books that were written copies of the dubbed series. I went into every Hot Topic hoping they’d stocked something new from the show on their shelves, I dug through Comic Book stores hoping for any kind of paraphernalia.
And then I got the internet, and I discovered FanFiction.net.
So many stories about fanfiction revolve around budding sexuality and exploring boundaries, and I think that’s really imporant. But for me it was damn near pure innocence. I probably threw in a few Japanese curse words. For me, it was a place to put down all the Sailor Moon story fantasies I was making up in my head anyway. And it made me write. Who would I be now without that?
Don’t get me wrong, I was a terror. I haggled for comments. I threatened not to write if I didn’t hit a certain quota of responses. And it’s not like I deserved them: My shitty 90s computer barely had dial up, let alone a word processor with spell check. Somehow people still managed to slog through my glaring typos and spelling errors. At some point, a kind user offered to help me with my grammar and I would send her my stories before posting. There were kind suggestions in the comments – “could you maybe make each chapter longer?” Slowly my writing improved, I started moving beyond dialogue to descriptive near-paragraphs. I racked up 20,000+ words on my profile.
But here’s the thing about fandom: it is lonely. Online I was getting near-constant feedback encouraging me to write and to stay engaged, but offline, and with people who weren’t Sailor Moon fans, I got weird looks and discouraging comments. “Why don’t you write a real story?” I didn’t realize they were fake. And once I believed they weren’t real, I stopped.
What brought all this up was an amazing tattoo that got posted on Reddit a few weeks ago. It’s a full-sleeve Sailor Moon mock up. I saw it and everything I loved about the show came rushing back. My coworkers joined in and told me they’d loved the show, or had seen it, and I thought – where were you guys when I was alone in loving it? I came home and watched the rebooted Sailor Moon Crystal on Hulu. I pitched and published a Sailor Moon quotes article at my company.
Today when I got home I got a surprise package from one of my coworkers. She bought me a Sailor Moon sweater. At first I thought: Oh! I mean! I used to love this, but I’m not – you know – I’m into cool things now.
And I realized just how much enthusiasm is shamed. I loved that show with all my heart. It was my friend when I was lonely, it taught me lessons when I was afraid, it made me write. Who would I be without that?
So this is a reminder to love what you love and embrace it. It might make you who you are.