Celebrate Fandom

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Celebrate Fandom features stories from guest contributors about how fandom has changed their lives for the better. Whether it was because of another fanperson, or a specific fan experience, we want to share the ways that fandom can enrich our lives.

Today’s story was submitted by Sarah/@SarahAh30. If you have questions or comments for her feel free to leave them in the replies below, and we’ll forward them on.

I often see people on twitter or Facebook saying how a book, a song, or something a celebrity has said has changed their life. For me it wasn’t a book, a song, or wise words, it was the mere concept of Fandom and it didn’t just change my life, it saved it.

From as young as I can remember I have sought out escapes from the harsh realities of real life. I didn’t have the idyllic childhood; my teens were hell, and my adult life hasn’t been much better. The one constant I have always had were my Fandoms.

As young as five years old, I needed an escape and that came in the form of “The Pony Club.” My friends and I would meet after school with our My Little Ponies and trade stickers, make up elaborate fantasy lands where we were best friends with the ponies, and be typical little girls. At that young age I found a group of like-minded people who cared about what I was saying and thought the same way as I did. For a few hours every day I could forget about about home and why I didn’t want to be there.

Over the years The Pony Club grew in number and progressed from My Little Pony to Jem and the Holograms, then onto Pokemon, and eventually at the age of eleven, boybands. After a brief period of New Kids on the Block, a UK-based boyband called Take That hit the scene and a whole new fandom opened up to me. From the ages of eleven to fifteen those five Manchester boys were my life. They brought me new friends, new music, and a new way of life. From 1991 to 1996 I spent my days talking about the boys and my nights babysitting to pay for concert tickets.

The UK music scene was so different back then; there were so many boybands on the scene that you couldn’t go to a club on nVzHx4jGCizcrR2aC-e-nb370m1n93LmQNXfIFHLgSb7cUobKY_vVnrHqB2m6HZlgAUuOac6IsmbTdYDVbW82hm3M1VTM7cIB6EzBafAYh9ZcYwt_vm11mD1dAan all-ages night without seeing a new one. With my babysitting money in my pocket and parents that didn’t care what I was up to, I became a professional fangirl. Although, Take That were my main band of choice, I couldn’t say no to a bunch of cute boys singing harmonies. Over those years I went to numerous club nights and road shows. As much fun as it was being on first names terms with security and band members alike, it was the friends I made along the way that meant the most to me. They didn’t know Sarah from Sutton, they just knew Sarah the Fangirl, and I could close the door on my real life for a while.

As with all things in life though, we grow up. I got married and divorced within the space of a year and found myself a single mum. It was time to put childish things aside, and I left Fandom behind me. During this time I lost touch with 99% of my friends as none of them agreed with my marriage and after it fell apart, I couldn’t handle the “I told you so”s.

I had an horrific pregnancy which almost killed me and my son, and I sunk into post-natal depression. Just as I dragged myself out of that hell, I almost died and had to have a minor –  which turned into major – surgery, which knocked me off my feet for a year. But, just as I was about to give up on life, my brother bought me my first computer. He set me up with an MSN profile and taught me the basics. I never thought I would get on with it.

aWNCBv9Nw3Qv3WG3AlAIb5mNH0WzzTzgg72O2or9xqPfN8QndKYDrrI1plrzJ7eGq4tWp8-KdxCFopqhIo0nnH_INzcGj2vFlkoomHzv0sPp1i6RpnRWSOf4-wAt that time there was a TV show called The Tribe running in the UK, so, bored one day I typed it into a search engine and found the show’s website which included message boards. After weeks of trawling the boards, I took the plunge and posted something myself. From that one message I met someone who helped turn my life around –  an amazing Dutch girl  who became my rock and talked me through the dark times. We emailed, we IM’d, we spoke on the phone, and we wrote to each other via snail mail. That one random girl in Holland stopped me from handing my son over to someone else’s care and taking my life more than once. And I met her all because we were both fans of a not-all-that-great (in hindsight) TV show.

Unfortunately, due to real life we lost touch. I just about managed to keep my head above water, but by 2009 I was sinking. I got thrown a lifeline, though, from the one person in my family I get along with the least, my sister-in-law. She had just read the Twilight Saga, but I had refused to read it. As a BtVS girl through and through, I didn’t want to read about vamps that sparkled. One Sunday, after the family had been here for hours and I hadn’t said a word, she threw Twilight at me and told me to try at least one chapter. I devoured all four books in five days and re-read them again straight away. Unbeknownst to me, someone at work had seen me reading them and mentioned it to a girl in one of our other offices. She sent me an email with a fanfic attached. I had never heard of fan fic and devoured it. From the link at the top of the page I found FFn and a whole new fandom. Via Twi I created a twitter account and met my two best friends, my fic idol, and a whole bunch of friends from all over the world that constantly pull me from the dark pit that is always there trying to pull me under.

Through a random email from someone I work with, but have never met, I found a whole fandom of people that, over the past few years, have stepped outside the Fandom personas from which we first met and into real life friends. Our Fandoms have moved on, but at the click of a button someone is always there for me and vice versa. If I’m having a bad day with my Trichotillomania, I know who to turn to. If I’m having a bad day with my kid, I have a plethora of ladies to whinge with. If I want extol the virtues of Louis Tomlinson’s bum, then like-minded people are just a click away.

We are scattered worldwide and may have never met (and may never meet), but because of the mere concept of Fandom, I have an amazing group of friends that are always there. I have been lucky enough to meet a lot of the UK and EU based Fandom peeps I talk to online, and in two months I get to meet two of my favorite US tweeps.

So to Mich, Jen, Maris, Penny, Robin, Jen, Ashley, Brie, Emma, Angela, Heidi, Mathie, Maggie, Hoochie Momma, and, to some extent, Icy. You may never know it but in some small way, at some point in time, just because we liked the same book or boyband, you have not only saved me, but enriched my life. Thank you, and those of you I haven’t met yet, I hope to someday soon.

Now if One Direction would just stop trying to kill me on a daily basis, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, I’m talking to you! I have enough life issues to deal with without having to deal with your faces daily!

-Sarah

If you’d like to share how fandom has made your life better, you can let us know in the comments or email us at submissions@keysmashblog.com.

 

 

Brie Keysmash
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Brie Keysmash

Professional fangirl, with an over-priced Juris Doctor. Music is her lifeline, and brunch is her hobby. You'll never see her running, unless she's being chased. Her cats are better than your cats, boybands make her world go 'round, and never forget, there's always money in the banana stand.
Brie Keysmash
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Latest posts by Brie Keysmash (see all)

  • mich

    I love you xxx

    The Tommo’s bum is not for your eyes lady!!!

    • Sarah H

      Well stop putting it into my TL then!

  • ArcadianMaggie

    “If I want extol the virtues of Louis Tomlinson’s bum, then like-minded people are just a click away.”

    I am here for you, bb!! 😉

    Lovely piece. Thank you. xo

    • Sarah H

      Thanks bb :)

      I never asked for a Tomlinbum in my life *sobs* It’s a hard life 😉

  • Mauralee88

    Beautifully written. (All the hugs)

    I’m so happy you found the twi fandom. I know you made my experience there richer. And thanks to you, and a few others, I’ve lost countless hours over the 1D fandom. Thanks, I think.

    • Sarah H

      And now I’m all upset with myself because I missed your name off !!

      You’ve made an impact on my life and your care packages bought a huge smile not to just to me but to The Monster too.

      Love you bb xx

  • Heidi Keysmash

    Thank you so much for being bold enough to share your story here with us. It’s exactly stories like this that make me proud to be a part of fandom.

    It’s funny, but true, that sometimes all it takes is just a little conversation on twitter or an email to make me feel better about myself or my life, and if I’ve ever been able to help someone else in that way then I’m glad. Even if it’s over something sort of silly or frivolous, the connections we make with other people matter.

    Thank you for reminding me of that.
    xoxo

    • Sarah H

      Thanks Heidi

      That part where I mention meeting my fic idol (on line) is you btw.

      Remember the twi valentines fest the other year? You tweeted a pic and I submitted a fic based on it. At that time I was going through a bad patch and the tweets and emails we exchanged at the time helped so much. I had never dared submit to anything like that and the story concept was something new to me. I needed a distraction from home life and it may seem like a little thing but those few weeks gave me a focus.

      Thank you for hitting that follow back button and allowing me to fangirl over you and for just being there, although you didn’t know it, I meant and helped an awful lot.

      xoxo

  • Brie Keysmash

    I really, truly adore you. I hate that there is a whole ocean between us! :( Again, thank you for writing this beautiful and moving piece for us. I said it in email, but I’ll say it here too. I never really think anything that I do or say makes any difference to anyone so for you to mention me in this really means a lot. We met in Twi fandom right? I’m trying to remember the circumstances surrounding it, but I’m drawing a blank. But I think I met you British lot around the same time…..do you remember??

    Love you! xx

    • Sarah H

      We did meet via Twi. You, Heidi, Robyn and Otta (Mag?) were the ‘in crowd’ back then. If I remember rightly I was tweeting with H and R and you got tagged into tweets and it all went from there.

      Twitter is such a frivolous thing and through the years we have spoken to people and then lost touch when accounts were deactivated. I didn’t realise this until the twitter archives were released but since my twi days you have been a constant. We may not be as close as we are with other people (time zones and oceans are a bitch) but over the past few years you have been a constant. People tend to move on from me quickly and I don’t place any blame on them for it. Because of my past I find it hard to trust people and let them in. My recent incarnation into Fandom has been a revaluation on how I interact with people.

      Honestly Brie, thank you! for following me back in 2010, replying when I tweet you and more so replying when I tweet something seemingly random.

      We will meet one day. I need to squish you in person. I’m normally the one person in the group that will shy away from human contact. The awkward hug me and Mathie had at Louis’ footie match is is explanation enough (also, that girl has a lot of hair! )but I need to hug you and say thank you properly

      • Brie Keysmash

        The “in crowd” omg stop! I have never been in an “in crowd” in my life. I’m a complete dork and just sorta float about.(p.s. Otta = Mar) But Twilight seems like a lifetime ago, but all of those ladies have been constants in my life for a very long time, and I’m glad I can include you in that group as well.

        I want to come to the UK SO BADLY. Though, no joke, if I came, I may never leave. Which, that may not be a bad thing. It will happen one day, that’s for sure!

  • I’m delighted the fandom has helped you, and I can well understand that it has. I’ve met some wonderful people here, and it’s changed my life for the better, too.
    *hugs*
    Anne
    X

    • Sarah H

      Thank you.

      It wasn’t until I looked back on it that I realised how much fandom has helped me. xx

  • Hoochie

    Thanks for sharing this. At the risk of sounding creepy I often think about you, because we connected over something pretty rare, and to be able to relate to you in that way has been a big comfort to me, so thank you. Yes, twitter is frivolous, but I know for many (I’m including myself here) it’s sometimes more. At times like these I am acutely aware there are real people behind the funny avis and usernames, and (like in our case) on occasion it provides an opportunity to share things in this alternate place which perhaps we might not be able to, in our day to day lives, for a variety of reasons (but mainly because the diaspora of awesomeness is flung across the Globe for reasons of fairness). I love fandom (because beautiful boys) but also for these deeper ways it can touch us. ALL THE HUGS.

    • Sarah H

      I never expected to find anyone who understood so when you messaged back it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I thank that day that I had the nerve to tweet about it. We may not talk often but just knowing that someone who gets it is there makes a HUGE difference. Thank you for being there. It’s not going so good right now and I’ve had three episodes this week alone but the feedback on this post has been a huge help.

      • Hoochie

        Sorry to hear that, sweetheart, and so glad this post has helped you. *even bigger hug*

  • Elle Keysmash

    Wow. Reading your story brought tears to my eyes and hope to my heart. Fandom has been a constant the past few years and one of the things that kept me from giving up completely. I wasn’t as active in Fandom when I had plans to let it all go, but someone on Twitter asked me how my day was going and hoped it was well. Something as simple as that made me tell myself I’d wait until the next day. The next day kept going and going, and now I’m here. Not everything is great or as it should be, but when I got to that point, a random person helped me, and I am so thankful that you had/have that as well. It’s the people who never know they’re helping you that are almost always the ones who helped the most.

    Thank you. <3