It’s been a long time. I shouldn’t have left you.
That intro either shows off my age or makes me hip. That’s what the cool kids say, right?
Anyhow, welcome back to my cosplay corner of positivity and geekiness! I’ve been away for a while, having been on a roller-coaster ride of cosplay, artist alleys, conventions, and meeting a lot of amazing people along the way. While going through my convention marathon, I’ve been spreading the cosplay-positivity love, whether it’s been coming from my table, wandering through the convention halls, or even giving my panel, “Love Your Cosplay Body.” The way my panel works is that I give a bit of my origin story and talk about the positives I’ve experienced in the cosplay community, the negatives, and how to deal with those negatives that may come your way. This is broken into a series of steps followed by nifty slides and hopefully witty commentary from me (spoiler: I’m not that witty). However, while putting together the panel, I realized something thanks to things people have said to me online and in person.
“I wish I had your confidence.”
At first, I took it as a compliment, but then . . . I noticed something. I noticed how sad some people would sound when they said it to me, some even adding a defeated “I’ll never have your confidence” to that above statement. That’s when I realized that some people may look at me and think that I’m confident all the time and that there’s something wrong with them if they don’t have that same confidence.
That’s why I have to admit the truth: I’m not always confident. In fact, no one is, and you know what? That’s OK. It’s OK to not be OK.
The truth about confidence is that it fluctuates. I’m a fairly confident person. I can take my licks and keep on going, and I can proudly tell people to love themselves . . . but that’s not how I am all the time. I second-guess myself every time I decide to do a new cosplay. I have that worried voice in my head when I decide to do something that shows off any part of my body: sleeveless shirts show off my chunky arms, shorts and skirts show off my fat legs, anything remotely form fitting will show off my big stomach, and I better not even consider swimwear. Most of my cosplay does the things that the voice in my head tells me not to do, and I may end up loving the end result, but I’m voicing my concerns to my partner along the way. The love for the characters, the fun, and the beautiful things my partner creates for me keeps me going, but I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have moments of “No, Bri, don’t do this. They’re going to make fun of you.”
And you know what? Sometimes, that voice in my head is right. Sometimes, I do get made fun of. And as confident as I am, I do have my bad days. There are times when a comment (or a series of comments) hits at just the right moment to really, really hurt me. I get upset. I have negative thoughts about myself. I consider stopping with cosplay. I curl up in bed. I even cry. This may surprise people, since my page is all about love and positivity and being confident in yourself—and those things are important. But there’s nothing wrong if you feel the other side of it, because honestly, you probably will sometimes. No one likes to be made fun of. No one likes to be bullied. And not everyone can have a sassy comeback in an instant when those harsh comments are made. I certainly don’t. Not all the time, at least; some days I’m like a rock star and can be on point with the bullies. But other days, I need to sit and blink the tears away before I take a few deep breaths and either attempt to say something or step away from my computer. And that’s perfectly OK. It’s perfectly normal. There’s nothing wrong with you for having these feelings and reactions. And they don’t always necessarily happen during the bullying. Sometimes, they’re delayed, happening after you’ve already stood up for yourself. I’ve gone back and forth with bullies on my Tumblr page before and have had people cheering me on . . . only to, many hours later, curl up in bed, emotionally drained and wondering why people felt the need to harass me.
It’s OK to not be OK.
So then the question becomes, “How do you become OK again?” Because while it may be perfectly normal to feel insecure, it’s not a place you want to stay. You don’t want to stay in that downward spiral. The trick is to not constantly focus on the negative . . . which is definitely easier said than done. It’s really easy to focus on that one bad thing because, in a room full of positives, that one negative ends up feeling like the loudest thing there. So the trick is to drown out that one loud negative with a lot of positives. The reason why I can bounce back is because I not only think of the positives but surround myself with them. I talk to my partner, and she cheers me up. I talk to my mom, and she makes me laugh about the idiotic comments that are made on the Internet. I work on something that puts a smile on my face or do something that makes me feel happy. If I get a negative comment on a picture, I go back and look at the positive ones. I stop and realize that against one negative, a picture may have hundreds, even thousands, of positives on it. I stop and think about how much fun I have when I cosplay, and how much I enjoy doing this. By doing that, I pull myself away from the bad and let the good take over. But it’s really, really important to do this at your own pace. Don’t force yourself back out there if you’re not feeling it. It’s OK if you’re not there yet—just don’t stay in that negative space.
As a final thought on all of this, you don’t always have to engage with the negative that’s happening. If you’re the type of person who can respond to bullying and it makes you feel better to do so, then go for it. If you’re the type of person who does better by walking away from it, then do that. If you can only respond for so long before you need to stop, then stop. Do what’s best for you and your well-being.
It’s OK to not be OK, because you will reach a point where you will be OK.