On a slightly more personal note than my usual posts, this blog will explore my pitfalls in getting too enthralled by my hobby.
As you may already know, I love cosplay - I live-n-breathe the stuff. Swimming in cosplay content everyday online fascinates me, and brings me joy. Although recently, I've started noticed that my hobby has been changing into an obsession; at times, with unhealthy consequences.
When you're essentially running yourself ragged to get your costume done for a convention, even after you've promised yourself to not go through that hell again - you may have a problem.
When you're only getting limited sleep, and it makes it harder to function during your daily duties - you may have a problem
When you have to turn down multiple engagements with friends, and hermit away in your cosplay cave to finish your work...you get the point.
There's an inherent flaw in the "sleep is for the weak" and "suffer for your art" mentality, especially when it's considered normal for cosplayers. It's a running joke, and even worse, it's expected. I think I pushed myself way too hard over the last few weeks. So much so, that my stomach is still recovering from being shot for the entire weekend, and my appetite was all over the place thanks to the stress and lack of sleep. My memory also fell victim, causing me to repeating myself - to the annoyance of those around me.
Although I had an overall good time over the past weekend, my Friday was a stress induced mess which turned me into an inconsiderate person. I thought I was being reasonable under pressure, but after looking back, that was not the case. I really have to thank my friends for putting up with my frantic state. I was so obsessed with making sure everything went well, that I didn't even realize I was stepping on toes. When everyone is stressed to the hilt, even seemingly innocuous comments hit like a brick wall. Most of the day was a blur that I don't even remember. This goes to show you that even though you go into something with good intentions you might mess up when stress and lack and sleep are involved.
Side note: I have a way better understanding of how everyone got their 'mean girl' edits in cosplay shows (or any reality competition show for that matter). Lack of sleep, stress, and a tight deadline does not make for a friendly atmosphere.
The Perfect Balance
So here's the true dilemma: how do you find a healthier hobby/life balance? As of late, I've made the mistake of letting my hobby take up a too much of my life. I feel as if I've neglected my friends over the last few months; I know more about people's costume progress than what's happening in their day-to-day. The tricky thing is, so many of my friends and I bond over the hobby - especially those I only get to see at events.
I don't know if I can achieve a perfect balance, since I have continuously set my standards so high, but I sure as hell can try - I'll make sure it does. For me, it starts with better time management, and a shift in priorities.
Time Management: I've started to be less rigid with my line-ups for upcoming events. This way, I don't get people's, and more importantly MY, hopes up for the delivery new costumes. It's not the end of the world if I have to re-wear an old costume because the new one isn't finished. I should have backups ready to go in-case I have to drop something, or resign to the fact that I'll wear Version 1.0. Another key point is to not be pressured in having to deliver new content ALL THE TIME. Let's be real, the people who can pump out various costumes a year probably don't have the same work/life commitments as I do. It's unrealistic to try and keep up. It'll serve me better to work at my own pace.
Priorities: It's always good to sit back and reflect on what you find important. If friends are what I value most about my cosplay experience, then I need them to take up more time in my convention planning. Nothing made me happier over the weekend then being able to spend time with friends I seldom see, and be able to have a genuine conversations with them. Part of why my Anime North wasn't the most enjoyable this year was due to me only being able to have 5 minute conversations with my friends throughout the weekend, and got to see the sights for one whole hour.
So dear readers, what I hope you take from this is that cosplayers are real people with real life problems. If you notice a friend is pushing themselves too hard, help them slow down and get them out of their cosplay hermit shell. I'm grateful that I've surrounded myself with such great friends, because great friends give you a reality check when you need it.
MeltingMirror's Cosplay Blog
Learn more about my experiences in the cosplay world, from conventions to photoshoots and everything in between.