Can Escapism Be A Good Thing? | Stripe Tassel Jumper | 31.01.18
STRIPE TASSEL JUMPER
I owe you an explanation! After the excitement of the rebrand, and a very enthusiastic welcome from me, I all but disappeared from the internet. No blog posts, no videos, no Instagram photos, nothing! So where have I been?
Well, truth be told, I’ve been in a galaxy far, far away. Last Tuesday, I began a spiral into a bad mental health week, and it just happened to coincide with finally watching Star Wars: The Last Jedi. That evening, I got sucked back into the fandom, deeper than I’ve ever been before, and I merely existed for the week. Minor tasks have been an immense struggle, and even dressing myself has been hard, so I allowed myself the luxury of watching The Force Awakens eight times (!) and The Last Jedi another three. The last occasion was an IMAX 3D experience, and it was incredible.
I’ve always been the type of person to fall fast and hard for fandoms, and it all started with a burning passion for Lord of the Rings during the recovery from my scoliosis surgery. I owned the limited edition books, the reader’s companion, the extended edition movies and all of the piano books and soundtracks, too. I spent hours poring over the lore, and I even went as far as learning some of the languages! This kind of extreme obsession is highly characteristic of my relationship with “geek culture”, and over my teen years, I experienced the same intense obsession for Pirates of the Caribbean, Sailor Moon, Twilight, Avatar, Harry Potter and Guild Wars 2. However, I thought I’d grown out of it!
While I’ve always been a Star Wars fan (my dad adored the original trilogy and it was a family favourite at the weekends!), I never obsessed over it in the way I have with other fantasy creations – until now. In the last week, I have consumed novels, concept art and scripts, and I’ve combed Reddit and Tumblr for theories and speculation about Episode IX. It’s probably not the coolest thing I’ve ever admitted, but I’ll tell you something: it definitely had a positive effect on my brain! While there’s a pretty big rift in the Star Wars fandom at the moment, I have felt like part of a community, even when I haven’t directly interacted with anybody.
Truth be told, it’a definitely a form of escapism for me, and perhaps that isn’t healthy in the long term. However, I think escapism can be a good thing in the short term. Even as my Instagram follower count ticks downwards – something that would usually be incredibly disheartening – I’m finding positivity through Star Wars instead. Even beyond my own imaginings and speculation, I missed the feeling of being part of a fandom. Amongst people in fandoms, there’s (nearly) no judgement, no ulterior motive and no pressure to take action. Something that might be considered “weird” in the real world is embraced by like-minded people online, from artwork to prose to videos. Furthermore, unlike the constant growth anxiety that comes with blogging and social media, a fandom is something you can dip in and out of at your leisure. It’s been exactly the brain reset I’ve needed.
I feel like the last six months have been a huge period of self discovery, or rather, self rediscovery. Sometimes I worry that I’m regressing back towards the teenage years that I long to experience again, shaped by music and extreme enthusiasm for fantasy franchises. I feel like it’s infantile and unrealistic to pursue these things in adulthood, but then I remember why I’m leaning towards old habits again. I spent all my time daydreaming about all of these things, but I still managed to gain straight A*s in my GCSEs and straight As at A-Level, alongside everything else I was doing. Most importantly, I was happy. Mental health problems didn’t even exist as far as I was aware. Why would I deny myself that same happiness now?
On a more practical note, Kylo Ren’s conflicted character has given me more songwriting inspiration than I’ve had in years, so I’m not going to worry about my ongoing Star Wars obsession for now. Instead, I’m going to crawl back into my Tumblr hole, notebook in hand, and blast Rey and Kylo Ren fighting to ABBA until the cows come home. Because I love it. And that’s that.
Take this as your daily reminder to do something you enjoy, even if nothing comes out the end of it, and may the force be with you.
PS. Redemption for Ben Solo: yes or no?
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