We are told by motivational speakers to “be yourself, live your passion.” Which sounds appealing, until the eviction notice hits your door because your passion is staying up late dancing at the clubs (not quite a true story, but let’s just say my priorities at the time were “20-something” and “PTSD”).
Honestly I’ve spent most of my life being not-myself. Approval is like a drug for me, I crave it, and will morph myself in very negative ways to try and fulfill the expectations of the people around me I want to impress. It’s led me to pull off some impressive feats, no lie; but it’s never led to a sense of self-worth or whole heartedness, just more insecurity. I can check a lot of boxes but I’m still wondering when I will like myself for who I am.
Anyway, that’s all a build up to talking about some of the changes I’ve made, which I’ve mentioned previously but want to talk about a little more. I think the most significant one, on a personal level, was ceasing operations on my Cooper West tumblr and “migrating” my tumblr presence over to The Den. The Den is not new, I’ve had it different incarnations for nearly three years now. It’s where I spend a lot of time squee-ing, hanging out, posting fanfic plot bunnies, and occasionally links to my own fanfic. Tumblr is primarily where I went after my trust in LiveJournal was shanked, and I have enjoyed it a lot. But I’ve kept it locked down, identity-wise.
Over the past five years though, fandom itself has seen a profound shift from being the underbelly of pop culture to being a driving force, and a huge element of that has been fangirls/women stepping up and admitting what they like and defending it, including comics and video games and cosplay and fanfiction. A lot can be and has been written about the seismic changes going on, but suffice to say we’ve gone from a world where slash was talked about in hushed terms over anonymous channels to a world where some of the biggest shippers are the actors and actresses themselves (ref. Orlando Jones if you haven’t yet).
Back to the quote at the top: “be yourself, follow your passion.” Well my two primary passions outside of dancing (still!) are writing and fandom. At first it seemed, I don’t know, déclassé to talk about fandom too much on this blog or my CW tumblr. After all “Cooper West” is a professional brand, not just the name I write under. Quite frankly I was still in the mindset of my first 40 years of life, where the fandom stuff I loved was denigrated and hidden away, considered shameful and embarrassing.
Through the last couple of months, since starting my new job at the uni and having a mild emotional breakdown/depression (I’ve had severe versions, and this fortunately was not one of them), I’ve had to sit back and re-think things. Trying to hold on to too many online channels (tumblr, blogs, twitter, facebook, pinterest, G+, etc.) with too many identities was overwhelming me. I was sinking under the weight of obligations and with the down turn in my mental state that was catastrophic. However I had previously let it be known that Cooper West and mikes-grrl were the same person. That seemed like a huge step at the time, but in retrospect I realized it was just the first step.
The solution turned out to be pretty simple. I’m holding on to my CW tumblr in order to reserve the name, but I’m not actively using it or linking to it. It never gelled for me anyway, it was just a chore to update. Instead my main presence is The Den. I plan on updating this blog with longer, more thinky posts on a weekly basis at least, and I’m still on twitter regularly. But The Den has become in a lot of ways my personal home anyway, so it makes sense to make it my online home for now.
It’s actually a relief to be myself. I always feared that doing so would make people shun me, but the more I do it, the more I realize that A) that’s not true, and B) the people who would shun me are not people I need in my life anyway.