Wanderers, we’ve mentioned before that fandom is supposed to be fun. It’s often a coming-together of people who share similar interests and values. But sometimes, it all turns a bit sour, or you’re not feeling it just now, or you need to focus on something else instead. It may be that you find yourself needing to take a break from one or more of your fandoms. But if fandom’s an ingrained habit, a part of your everyday routine, how do you do that?
Fear not, Wanderers – we wouldn’t ask you big scary questions if we didn’t at least think we had some answers for you. Here are our tips:
- Don’t be afraid to step back. It may be that you feel you owe your fandom a lot; you have friends there, you have a fic you’re supposed to be updating, or it’s just helped you through some rough times. It would be rude to abandon it now, right? Wrong. If you need some time and space, take it. You can make sure people know you’re on a temporary break, if you feel that’s something you want to do.
- Don’t specify a length of time unless you have to. Maybe you want to be back in the swing of your fandom(s) by the next series’ premiere, or the finale, or a particular convention. But if your fandom’s been wearing you down or making you feel bad, you should take as much time as you need to feel better – and that means you won’t be able to plan for your return too precisely. This is not the end of the world, I promise.
- Reduce your involvement or stop interacting with the fandom(s) online altogether. Whether this means blacklisting words related to the relevant fandom(s) or spending some time off of the internet, make it less tempting for you to get involved with your fandom(s) while you’re on your self-imposed break. Maybe you’re happy reading fics, but need to take some time off of writing them. Maybe you don’t mind fanart, but don’t want to get sucked into meta discussions. Know what’s making you uncomfortable and avoid it.
- If it’s fandom in general that’s wearing you out, or the internet, avoid the lot as much as possible. Maybe that means not going online for a bit (at least outside of homework and food shopping). Maybe what you’re really looking for is a chance to reconnect with all those other interests you had before your current fandom took over a bit. Go for a walk. Cuddle a friendly animal. Talk to your family about their day. The possibilities are endless.
- If the source material is a problem, stay away from that for a while too. There’s no point avoiding the fandom because something triggering or otherwise upsetting is happening in your favourite show if you’re going to keep watching the show anyway – unless it’s the fan reactions that are bothering you, of course. There have never been so many ways to catch up on a series, or fill in the gaps with brief synopses – missing a few episodes will not be the end of the world. The same goes for any kind of media.
- Don’t be afraid to dive back in when you’re ready. Fandom moves fast, especially online – but you got in once and you’ll easily catch up again. If you find that you don’t want to come back to a particular fandom at all, after a while, that’s fine too. You do what’s best for you, Wanderers. Fandom should be a positive thing, so don’t let it stress you out.
Eleanor Musgrove (has had her moments of being unable to fan)