You know that feeling of ‘being in a hampster wheel’? Where it doesn’t matter how fast or how long you run you are just going in circles? That’s how my burnout started. In the fall of 2016 I noticed the way I looked at the Cosplay Community, and the way it treated me as a member, were honestly starting to bother me.
I felt compelled to publish new content all the time just to ‘keep up’ with others and was beginning to see myself compared to others through written forms of communication and, in a few small circumstances, where the persons involved were unaware of my presence and verbally I found myself being compared to another coser.
At this point, I was known for a few things, and only these few things. My projects within the community (Charity Food Drives, Panels, CCTC Series), my connections to a lot of people inside the community scene, and my Warrior Mega Charizard X Cosplay.
I’ve never wanted to be anything more than just a cosplayer, but at some point, I started taking things in a direction I didn’t like. I began agreeing with these comments, telling myself that I could never be as amazing as this person. That this cosplayer was 100x better than me as this character, and I went as far as to be envious of friends who seemed to have ‘everything together’ and going for them.
This all hit me pretty quick and hard after the summer when I took some time to realize why I no longer felt the joy I did before. When the prospect of going home and working on a cosplay made me feel dread and stressed out, I then realized that I had not only lost the joy and passion that cosplay brings to me…but I had lost my way.
Self-loathing – (also called self-hate)
I stress so often for you all to love yourself, and deep down I now see that it was also a way for me to tell myself this too.
Self-love is SO important! It’s a form of Self-care, being comfortable in the body you are in and learning to love the parts of yourself that you might see as ‘ugly’.
Once I began comparing myself to others is when the self-hate started. I resented the way I looked in costumes, in pictures, and this lead to me being unable to attend events and conventions in cosplay long (if at all in some cases), and this only made me hate myself more. Wearing a cosplay would give me anxiety so bad, where in the past wearing a cosplay empowered me and made me happy.
I gained weight and could not fit into some of my older costumes, and that sent me into a spiral of depression where anxiety was a constant companion. Hating myself for how I looked was a daily reminder whenever I looked into a mirror.
As I said, depression hit me pretty hard. I was able to hide it, and it’s going to surprise a lot of people reading this that if you spoke to me at all over the last year I honestly wanted nothing to do with conventions or cosplay, and you wouldn’t have known with the mask I wore.
Everyone handles their depression differently. And every case of depression I believe is different, and it never really goes away. You have good days, not so good days, and bad days.
Depression had me in such a tight grip that I ultimately less content to show, zero desire to cosplay, and a constant sickening feeling in my gut whenever I saw friends enjoying this hobby and attending conventions.
I almost stopped cosplaying
I hit pause on my cosplans, and was fighting with myself over deleting my social media accounts and leaving the community as a whole. Remember how I said everyone handles depression differently? For me, I thought that perhaps by leaving and distancing myself from cosplay I’d begin to feel better. But then something happened…
I realized where I lost my way.
I realized why I felt this sickening feeling in my gut all the time whenever ‘cosplay’ was mentioned.
I realized why I hated myself.
I had begun compared myself to others, envying others, and hating the way I looked. I had a reputation and had to fake myself for others who saw me as something I was not, which was perhaps the most sickening part for me to realize.
Over the holidays I struggled with finding a solution. I could delete my pages, which was one solution that nagged at me throughout November-January. But instead, I decided to do something else…something for myself, which is the first time I’ve done anything ‘for myself’ in the last few years.
I am cosplaying for me
I said I had lost my way somewhere on this journey. I lost the joy, the desire, and everything I love about this hobby as a result of comparing myself to others and cosplaying FOR others.
It took two years to get to this blog entry where I can say, with certainty, that I am back 🙂
I am no longer cosplaying to please others. I am no longer going to compare myself to someone else and wish I were different to match. I am no longer going to wear a mask that tells everyone I am always fine and a positive person because I am not always fine and believe me I can be very negative at times!
This is me, being entirely open about the thoughts and feelings I experienced over the last two years.
And I am here to tell you…
You are not alone.
If you are experiencing right now any self-doubt, hate, or maybe you are struggling to find that feeling cosplaying gave you the first time you tried it then I am here to tell you YOU are not alone.
You need to do what is best for you. If that’s hitting ‘pause’ and discovering just what happened to shift the perspective on cosplaying for you then SMASH THE PAUSE BUTTON! If it means leaving cosplay behind and exploring new hobbies then DO IT!
You need to work on the areas that are unhealthy for you, and that may be improved through positive thinking and relying on friends more. You don’t have to hide what’s going on, and you should reach out for help.
The struggles you are facing are very real! Don’t let anyone tell you differently or to ‘just get over it’. You are never alone. Reach out for help!
My biggest support is my now husband, John. He’s seen me at my worst and in my darkest moments. He’s never pressured me and gave me the space I needed when I needed it. Honestly, you need to find yourself a John 🙂 Friends, family, create a support system for yourself so you are not on this journey alone.
What happens next
For me personally, it’s going to be an ongoing journey of learning to love myself and not worry about what others say or think of me.
I am (for the first time in two years) excited about cosplaying again! I’ve got templates for Arkham Knight Batgirl cut and ready for foam transfer, and I’m in the process of drafting patterns for one of my dream cosplays which is Insane Black Rock Shooter. I’m taking my time on them, trying some new techniques (yay for learning things!), and enjoying the build like I used too.
I’ll be getting a Gym membership this week after payday so I can take charge of my physical health through cardio, and I’ve begun eating healthier food in my daily meals as well.
As far as my mental state of mind I’ve removed several toxic people from my life and found that when negative thoughts happen it’s best for me to not focus on them as often as I did before. They can have their few minutes and give me anxiety, but then I move on and leave those behind. These are usually negative and untrue thoughts like ‘well they don’t really like me’ or the feeling that others are offended/upset by something I said or did, to which I can now tell myself is anxiety trying to get a better hold of me and make me believe or think of something that is not true.
I cannot say this enough and I never will stop saying it: You are never alone. You DO matter, and you ARE beautiful just the way you are!
What’s not beautiful are negative thoughts, don’t let them rule over you and your decisions.
I hope you find the passion and joy that comes with cosplaying again if you lost it like I had.
If not, then I hope you find it someplace else. And that you never stop learning to accept and love yourself. We have this one life on Earth to live, and we are all living it right now TOGETHER!
My inbox is open 24/7 if you want to talk, vent, or reach out to me for whatever reason. My social media is available to you as well, and I will continue to make it so and a place where I can do my best to encourage and inspire others, while also sharing myself and the journey I am on with you.
It’s 2018, and I am back to being a very ‘happy cosplayer’ 🙂