I have finally figured a list of the things that I’ve got,
And the things that I’m not.
(Sea Legs ~ Frank Turner, 2008)
I had a surprisingly difficult time writing this post. Figuring out what I actually want to say and to say it in not too many words. To say it not by hiding behind a “we fans” point of view, because I honestly don’t know why other fans of a band, singer, actor, do the things they do. There are various degrees of fans anyway and everyone might have their own motiviation for doing what they do.
I also don’t know if this post will make sense to anyone but me. But at least writing it did help to untangle some thoughts and self-reflections, which had kept my mind constantly busy since last week. So I’ll just put it down here to finally get it out of my mind, even if no one will care about it or even read it.
I think I’ve mentioned often enough that I’m not the most self-confident person. Even though I’ve gotten a better grip on it over the years, I still
often sometimes suffer from a lack of self-esteem. I might not necessarily seem like a meek and shy person, when you meet me in real life. I will talk to you. Animatedly even. But that doesn’t mean on the inside I’m not afraid of saying something stupid, afraid of appearing boring or whatever. Because I bascially sometimes worry too much if I’ll be liked. Or even worse worry that I’m being disliked. Being considered not worth liking. All that and more… you get the idea.
This sometimes makes real life difficult to navigate, even though it’s troubling me much less than it did two decades ago as teenager or young woman in her 20s. Something that in hindsight really brought all these self-esteem issues to light, but also helped me figure things out about myself, was my role in another fandom. From late 1998 and way into the 2000s I was a very dedicated fan of two German TV actors and was running a fan-website about them, which led to a lot of things happening.
On what I like to call “my tiny Frank Turner Tour” last week part of me thoroughly felt thrown back to that time of my life. Thrown back into the mayhem of emotions and anxieties, which I had thought I had long overcome.
Through this fan-website and through getting in touch with these two TV stars, meeting them and all that, these two quickly became much more real to me than any other pop band or movie star I had been a fan of before. Furthermore they did not just become real to me, but I had become real to them too: with a name, email and quickly a face they remembered.
So, there were these two lovely TV stars, whom I liked a lot and whom I cared about and when they started to know (about) me, I just wanted them to like me too! Simple as that! Not really on any kind of personal level, but at least in an appreciative “she’s nice and not crazy and creepy” kind of way. Low standards I know, but that was just me back then. For the first few years I was constantly worrying about what they might really think of me. Worrying if I was making a fool of myself or if I was getting on their nerves and all the other dark and deprevating thoughts a 20-something with low self-esteem and anxieties can conjure up.
Then there also were other fans, running different fansites for the same actors. You would have thought that as we shared the same interest we should and could all get along and work together. To be honest, I don’t know what the others really thought of me, but I definitely eyed them suspiciously and jealously, which of course stemmed back to the lack of self-esteem and all those anxieties. Because I always though the others might get the positive feedback I wanted to get. That they might be liked more than I was. Often enough in the early days, I was convinced they were liked more than I was and that consequently I was liked less. There obviously are no shades of grey, only black and white in a mind full of self-doubts.
I can’t necessarily say when exactly my way of thinking changed and when I became more confident and comfortable in my “role” in all of this. Maybe it was the way these TV stars kept treating me and reacting to me over the years? Because after a while I was pretty sure that they saw *me* and not just a random person from the crowd of fans. That there was some kind of connection. And more importantly that they liked who they saw. After another while that didn’t even really matter to me anymore. Weird, isn’t it? Or just the normal way these things go? I have no idea. But in the long run this whole experience definitely helped me and taught me a lot about myself .
For an ordinary person with a healthy dose of self-confidence who doesn’t feel the need to get approval and validation from someone else, this must sound quite crazy. And it is. I know, it is. And I’ve been working on it.
Fast forward now more than a decade to the Frank Turner tour in January 2016.
Or even a few years earlier, to 2013 when I first discovered Frank and his music and when I was hooked so quickly. Hooked on his music, his words, his shows and the more I saw and read about him, I started to really really like him outside of his art too. If you can even make that distinction between the person and the songwriter. I’ve been planning to write another post some day soon-ish about why Frank means so much more to me than any artists I like (actors for instance) could ever mean. But that’s a post that also needs some untangling of thoughts first: Thoughts about finding my own thoughts and emotions reflected in so many of his lyrics.
Anyway: I like Frank Turner. And the fact that he usually is quite “accessible” via email or by hanging out after most of the shows, quickly also made him so much more real to me than…. well, any other artist since these two German TV stars back then. You get where I’m going with this, right?
I don’t know if it was the intense experience of going to so many shows in such a short period of time. Or if it was the experience of crossing path with other equally dedicated fans who have been to as many or even more shows than myself. Who were heading for the front row and hanging around after the shows, just like I did. But during these days and especially before, during and after the shows a part of me – my inner 20-something if you want – felt totally thrown back in time. Because I was feeling all those emotions and anxieties all over again. The wish to be “seen” and known and appreciated and liked by your favourite artist. In this case of course Frank Turner himself. There, I said it. Because like I stated above: I like him. Quite a lot. Obviously! But I also felt thrown back in time because I caught myself suspiciously and jealously eying some of the other dedicated fans, who were saying things. Tweeting things. Doing things. All of which made my inner 20-something doubt herself a lot.
But then – luckily for my own state of mind – the 40-something me always quickly remembered all what I’ve learned in the last 15 or so years. About myself and about life and about why people might act the way they do. I remembered the mindfulness techniques I’ve recently gotten into. Not always, but often enough I remembered that gossiping and bitching (even only in my mind) really isn’t the way I want to spend my time. That it’s not the way I want to be. I remembered to be much more “zen” about a lot of things. To focus on and appreciate the amazing things happening. And it worked. Mostly anyway.
It honestly has been a really weird experience to have the 40-year-old me “watch” the inner 20-year-old me think and feel all those things all over again. And it’s been an even weirder experience, but in a totally good way, to know and feel deep down that all of this doesn’t really matter.
15 years ago at one point I literally felt sick overanalyzing some encounters with these two TV stars. In 2016 it just felt nice to know, that even if Frank Turner might not see/know *me*, it doesn’t have to diminish the huge pleasure and joy I experience through his music. Even if there won’t be any kind of temporary connection with him, that doesn’t take away anything from the emotional connection I feel to his lyrics and his music. And it definitely doesn’t say anything about me or my worth. And when for a moment it felt like he did see/know *me* that was pretty cool of course, but that doesn’t really change anything either. I’m still me. He’s still him. And that’s absolutely fine.
I’m just thrilled to have come to a point in my life where I can take a step back from all the emotional turmoil that being a fan of any artist sometimes seem to bring for me. To step back and examine all the thoughts and feelings and to know which one matters. And which one shouldn’t and which one doesn’t.
Might that be what being a grown-up is all about ? Interesting ;-)
Final thought: The fact that I found a Frank Turner lyrical quote which to me seemed perfectly appropriate to my deep-thoughts posts, must be saying something, right ?