Carrying on in “Real Life” When Your Fandom World is in Pieces.
Every fandom member has had this happen. Suddenly you’ve run out of words on the last page, or the screen goes black and the credits begin to roll. He’s dead. Or maybe that other character that you finally learned to like was just kidnapped by that really bad person. Heck, maybe Billy just fell down the well again. It doesn’t matter. As you realize that there is no more fandom input for your desperate brain to consume for at least another year, your insides feel like they’ve been hollowed out, your gaze is devoid of anything even remotely resembling humanity, and eight hours later you find yourself crawling out from under the covers with less finesse than a one-legged zombie. Your life feels like it’s over. You can’t possibly wait to know what happens next. Your characters are in peril now. Driving to work, you imagine a thousand different conclusions to the ruthless cliffhanger that the fandom writers left you with. Your heart is twisting in your chest, your brain has turned to mush as it tries to find logical conclusions for the lives of those in your fictional universe, and then you make it to work or school and everyone is walking around like nothing even happened. This post will tell you how to react to the real world after something catastrophic has happened in your fandom.
STEP ONE: LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE
So, you’ve made it to the desk. That’s good. You can’t be certain that it’s your desk because your eyes are probably filled with a solid liter of unshed tears, or maybe you’ve just put your basic navigation skills on pause because your brain needs to devote the entirety of its intellectual capacity to determining every possible outcome for your beloved characters (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, anyone?), but that doesn’t really matter right now. You managed to make it to the right building (hopefully), and now you’re sitting at a desk looking like you know what you’re doing. This is key. People like to trust in what they see. If they see you sitting at a desk, they will think, “oh, they are working.” If they see you sitting at a desk with blank, soulless eyes, they will think, “oh, they are working hard.” Just keep this up. Replay every scene from the previous night over and over again in your mind, like a poorly pirated DVD titled “I’ll never be happy again.”
Note: Looking as if all of your hopes and dreams have been smashed to pieces is another successful approach. In fact, this might even get you invited out by the people who don’t know you well enough to know that “out” for you is actually a stealth mission involving pajamas and a late-night emergency pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
STEP TWO: LOOKING LIKE YOU’RE DOING THE RIGHT THING
It’s been about an hour now, and while you have mentally visited every detail of the episode multiple times, you haven’t actually moved. People are starting to stare. Then again, maybe you’re just being paranoid. Even if last night’s show ending did feel a bit like a personal attack against you by the writers. Either way, you’ve got to do something and make it look productive. Your best bet is to start typing away on the computer. No one ever questions the work ethic of someone in a typing frenzy. The important part is consistency. The more you type, the harder you’ll appear to be working. The hardest part is that you’ll have to move despite the fact that you feel more fragile than one of those burnt sheep left behind by one of Dany’s dragons. The good news is that moving is really all that you have to do to look productive. So, start typing. You can type anything. Why not write out every last detail that you can remember from the beginning of the series until now and begin rating them on the likelihood that they’ll help you figure out what the writers are going to do with your characters before they even write the rest of it? Better yet, why not write a letter riddled with vitriol to those evil, soul-eating writers detailing everything that they’ve ever done to bring misery to your life? You’ve got almost seven hours of work left. You could get in at least twenty pages by then, right? Besides, it’s not like your boss ever actually asks for a finished product on whatever day it is.
STEP THREE: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR BOSS ASKS FOR A FINISHED PRODUCT
So, your boss walks up and asks if you’ve completed that really important sample-paper-product-thingy that he asked you to finish the day before. You know, before it happened. Your first thought is that you can’t believe how insensitive he is. And, you’re right. He clearly doesn’t care that you were up all night clutching a pillow and pleading with an empty room to just spare this one character. This is the moment where you need to realize that a complete lack of empathy is actually a prerequisite for most management positions, and act accordingly. It’s time to soothe the human-hating beast so you can avoid anyone realizing that you’ve been rendered incapable of carrying out work tasks by what the non-believers call “fiction.” The safest approach is to make it seem like you’re horribly afraid of letting them down. Using phrases like “I just want this to be perfect for you” or “I want to make sure that it’s up to your standards” will calm the dreaded management figure by making them feel important and like they deserve the best. This will buy you more time to come to terms with the trauma that you’ve suffered. It might also get you a raise.
STEP FOUR: COMMUNICATING WITH HUMANS THAT ARE NOT IN A CURRENT STATE OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
Some irrelevant, non-character figure walks up and says some sort of greeting in a language that is distinctly not I-couldn’t-sleep-last-night-because-feels. It’s probably english. But, like, the kind that isn’t tainted with misery and sorrow. So, what do you do? First, go for the nod. A casual, I’m-not-falling-apart nod. Then, redirect the conversation immediately by asking them some random question that has to do with their thoughts or life. After they begin droning on about their kids or hobbies like the selfish, non-fandom members that they are, occasionally nod and murmur “uh huh” until they finish their coffee and walk away. Following this, promptly give yourself five solid minutes of mourning time dedicated to your characters. It’s important for them to feel your support right now. You just have to make it through this one little day, and you can get back to them. It’s one day of work. You’ve had many of them. You can do it. It’ll be easy, right? You won’t give up. You’re a survivor.
STEP FIVE: GIVING UP ON REAL LIFE BECAUSE YOUR FANDOM NEEDS YOU
You’ve made it to lunch, but the pain won’t stop. And, really, how could it? As the fog of shock fades and the reality of what happened begins to set in, you’re actually feeling worse. Pretending that you’re a member of the real world just isn’t working. Your characters are hurting. You’re hurting. You need to go home and binge-watch every episode ever made to remind yourself of happier times. Immediately. The timing is right. You just need to carry that tuna fish and jelly sandwich (don’t judge yourself for the error in food preparation, you were still in shock then) to the bathroom, produce your best imitation of a wounded, middle-aged man that’s been forced to watch reality TV all day, and throw it in. For added effect, rub some water on your face and walk out letting every inch of your fandom pain show. The non-believers will misinterpret this as food poisoning. Once this happens, mumble something about needing to go home, and then make your exit. The second you pass through the office doors, run home. Run like you have red hair and the king just died, very publicly, from poisoning. There is nothing else right now. There is only fandom. You can feel guilty about it later.