Self-Esteem and Fandom

I'm a proud geek, a professional geek – Geek Upgraded, Geek 2.0 if you would.  I make money with being a nerd, a fan, it's my life.  A lot of us are, or are partially, but sometimes we miss something when talking to our fellow geeks and fans.

We miss that people are often made to feel BAD about their fannishness, what they geek over, etc.  You, the reader, may be a person who'd like to make a living at what you love, but you're used to feeling that your hobbies are a bit silly, or immature, or irrelevant.  Despite shows with geek heroes, it's a bit hard to stand up and say, for instance, that you really want to be a novelist of fantasy fiction (even with the success of say, JK Rowling or Terry Pratchett).

These self-esteem issues are difficult on the potential professional geek (if not the current professional geek).  Most anyone knows that self-esteem issues can shoow down the greatest of minds and the deepest of imaginations.

But what we love in life, from obscure history to giant robot anime, is something we SHOULD look at applying to our careers and what we do with our lives.  We have a passion for something, a deep and abiding love, and unless we decide (and we well may) to keep that as a purely "recreational" sphere in life, why not use it?

That may mean getting over self-esteem issues.

Let me put it as simply as possible, from a guy who works in videogames and has a picture of Spock at his desk reading "Talk to the hand" – it's OK to be a total fangirl, or fanboy and find a way to make a living at it.  It's a noble calling – being yourself and finding your place in the world at the same time.

So how do you deal with self-esteem issues as a profan or potential profan?

First, I'd say any general self-esteem building is important.  Maybe you need therapy, maybe some NLP, maybe just talking to someone.  I'm NOT for the happy-slappy we-must-all-have-great-self-esteem idea – I am ALL for confronting the negative and DON'T believe people have to always feel good about themselves.  But when people get too negative, they may need help.

Secondly, NOTHING succeeds like success.  Go and do something – finish that online comic, run that con, get that job.  Apply yourself.  Apply yourself as much as possible.  Get something done using your geekery.  This reminds you of what you can do – though don't indulge in the "ha, now I've shown THEM" feeling.  Well, overmuch (because you're going to do it anyway).

Third, brainstorm your way out of any hole you're in, try a bit of the writing exercise known as clustering:

  • Write down what you love about your fandom or would like to do in your career.  Then
  • Write the next thing that comes to mind related to that – and connect it to the first item.  You may write down "work in videogames" and then think "Programmer"
  • Keep brainstorming and connection things – maybe to the first item that started this, maybe you'll form a web of associations.  You could have a chain of causality going "work in videogames" – "programmer" – "Quality assurance" – "Customer service"
  • Go until you're exhausted and done.  You've now produced a huge, brainstormed web of ideas – some of which may give you new career ideas or options.  Best of all if you did this, you stopped thinking about it less and less over time and were more honest.

So keep working on yourself, keep succeeding, and keep thinking out of the box.  You've got the love – you just need to channel it.

– Steven Savage