When it all feels like too much
I woke up today feeling awful. Awful about myself, my looks, and about my cosplaying.
I sat on my phone and looked at Instagram and wondered why I even bothered cosplaying. These dark thoughts made me feel horrible about my own creations and I felt like I could never achieve what the cosplayers I saw on social media were achieving.
I am aware that this isn’t right. When I started cosplaying eleven years ago, I never expected to be able to make the things I do now and portray the characters that I do now. I’ve grown a lot and I’m always pushing myself to try new things.
That does not mean my thoughts on this aren’t valid. They are.
I know I’m not the only who feels this way though. With social media, I find myself seeing at least a few of my friends online talking about the struggles and pain they go through and how they are tempted to quit altogether.
I won’t lie, I have been there, considered it, and even talked about the possibility. However, for me personally, cosplay has gotten me out of some of my darkest days. It’s the hobby that got me out of bed when nothing else could. So, despite all the good things this community brings, why do so many of us constantly want to quit?
Should I quit Cosplaying?
I can only speak from personal experience, of course, but cosplay is a lot of work, and sometimes for no pay-off. In my case, I can put a lot of love into a costume – either one I’ve made or had commissioned – but sometimes the response has not been what I had hoped for and, for someone with self-esteem issues, that can be disheartening. I’ve felt like I’ve let other people down.
Whenever I feel burned out and tempted to quit, the first thing I try is to take a long break from cosplaying. Usually two weeks off; no thinking, no crafting and no stressing. Sometimes a few days is all I need and that kindles the flame and reminds me of all the things about Cosplay and the community that I love.
The biggest thing I needed to remind myself of was that when I cosplay a character, lots of people are more excited to see someone doing their favourite character. Cosplay is you in costume, so you do not need to look like every other person who cosplays the same character. The fear of being judged is something I have struggled with and still do struggle with but I have seen many times that other cosplayers, perhaps even most cosplayers, can be just as self-conscious as me.
At the end of the day, the reason I started cosplaying was not to get recognised at cons or have lots of Instagram followers – it was to have fun. Is it still fun? You bet it is. Just because we might not become “Cosplay famous”, doesn’t mean we have failed anyone. Keep in mind why you started, take a break for perspective if you need to. Remember why you got into the hobby in the first place but stop if it stops being fun.
My lowest point was at London MCM in May 2018 – the hottest con I have ever been to in the UK and I was wearing a lot of pleather. I had big hair, big boots. It was not the best decision I had made. I was miserable. The costume that I had put together looked fantastic, but I felt like I was melting. So, I took it off and the rest of the day was actually fun. Taking a day off from wearing a costume and having the time to appreciate all the hard work that had gone into other peoples’ cosplays, and enjoy the atmosphere, was just what I needed and helped me get the perspective I needed.
Cosplay is something that you need to do for yourself, the rest will come. The community is not as horrid as what we think about ourselves and there are many people out there who are happy to encourage you when you need it.
If you love it, it’s worth it.
Cosplay is a far more involving and demanding hobby than most people think. There is so much that can go into it; makeup, sewing, armour making. It can be discouraging to say the least when people get cosplay after cosplay done and you’ve been stuck trying to perfect just one. Quitting cosplay might seem like the best option that you have in this situation but that does not mean you should do it. It might be the hardest thing to continue when all you want to do is stop it altogether but if you keep going and overcome those feelings, you might be thankful you didn’t give it up.
Giving up something you care deeply about can be the worst feeling and overcoming that burnout can be the opposite entirely.
If I still love doing it, then I will continue to do it. No matter how old, popular, or talented I think I am.