How Fandom And Hobbies Return A Sense of Control

Ever feel like you can’t do anything?  Ever feel disempowered?  I pretty much already know the answer: yes.

Psychologically, a feeling of no control, of helplessness is incredibly damaging.  Anyone that’s taken Psych 101 knows about how it can lead to depression, mental illness, and general dysfunction.  That’s of course on top of what we experience or have seen.

Career-wise (and though it may be insensitive to switch over to careers, that is what this blog is about), a sense of having no control is also destructive.  Beyond the psychological issues people face, there’s the fact that lacking the sense that we can take charge of our lives affects our livelihood.  When we feel out of control, our ambition is checked, opportunities missed, and quite frankly we may come off as helpless or stagnant in the career world.

We need a sense of control, of competency, that we can do.  Oddly, the parts of our live people may think of as time-wasters, our fandoms and hobbies, can actually provide that to us.

Consider what fandom provides us in a sense of control:

  • We are surrounded (hopefully) by supportive people who share our interests and encourage our efforts.
  • We are in an stimulating environment that inspires us so we have new ideas.
  • We are in an environment that encourages and supports projects, such as convention, fanfic, gaming campaigns, etc.  In a few cases activity, control, productivity is virtually required.
  • We are in an environment that provides resources to achieve and broadcast our achievements – and indeed to see that they’re meaningful to others.

If you’ve ever helped with a convention, gotten good reviews on a piece of fanart, or run a website, you know exactly what I mean.  If you’ve seen other people glad for their hobbyist achievements, you understand.  Our hobbies provide us a place to achieve.

This may be your key to getting out of a rut – or preventing one – by consciously leveraging this.  You can do this by deliberately making sure your fandoms, unless they are purely passively recreational, keep you engaged and active.  You can remain active by taking on projects, setting goals, and in short doing things that are fun to completion – be it a con, a fanfic, or something else.

By experiencing this sense of control, by achieving, you can retain a sense of control – your locus of control – in your life.  You also get to do it in a friendly and supportive environment.  With this sense of control, your life – and your career – can be approached with more confidence.

But first, you have to realize the opportunity is there – and seize it.

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach for professional and potentially professional geeks, fans, and otaku. He can be reached at