I am going through a cosplay crisis, and I guess it has been going on for about a year. I think I’m at the end of it though, but I’m not out of it yet.
Through a series of long Facebook posts I have been venting about my situation to my facebook-friends, and now I try to summarize everything and maybe come up with a plan on how to end this crisis.
I guess everything began when I was asked to be a judge for CosplaySM2014. Up until that point I had only done cosplays because it was fun, and with no expectations. Just throwing things together, don’t mind the quality as long as it looks okay. But then CosplaySM2014 happened. I was asked about my expertise, about my merits (I had none), I got to see the best cosplays in Sweden, and I got to know a lot of really good cosplayers. I stated to question my own cosplay ability, and started to feel (imagine?) expectations.
After CosplaySM2014 I could not look at cosplay the same way again. I felt that I had to prove myself even after the championship; that I had to prove that I was one of those awesome cosplayers. I tried to find what kind of cosplayer I was, and I picked electronics and crossplay as my main “fields”. I took on some ambitious cosplays, I got into Master at NärCon2014, but when I couldn’t finish any of the cosplays in time or with the quality I wanted, I had to drop out and took a great hit on my self-esteem.
You’d think that I learned anything from that? I didn’t, not at first anyway. I decided to blame the short time I had for the cosplay, so I chose to continue to work on it, but somehow I couldn't even look at it without feeling panic. I was no longer cosplaying just for fun, I cared about the quality, I didn’t chose characters because I wanted to cosplay them but because I thought it was the characters other expected me to make.
A few months later I was invited to be a judge at ComicCon. I had done nothing to prove myself, yet still they wanted me. After that con a small thought started to grow; they wanted me as a judge even if I couldn’t prove myself as a cosplayer, and I learned that a good cosplayer does not automatically make a good judge. So… does this mean that I have what it takes to judge, but maybe not what it takes to cosplay on the highest level? I was still unsure at that point.
Fast-forward to ConFusion in December. It had now been over one and a half years since I last made a new cosplay. I hadn’t been able to create anything new, not shown of anything, not proven myself in any way, yet I had made a lot of new friends in that time. For this con however I had remade my old Sailor Jupiter cosplay, a cosplay I made when I still cosplayed just for fun. I only wore it for an hour, but it was the best hour that cosplay-year. I was suddenly reminded that cosplay could be fun. I had not cosplayed anything for almost a year, not created anything new for one and a half, having constant feelings of expectations and the need to prove myself. And all this was wiped away by wearing an upgraded version of one of my oldest cosplays.
A few months later, it’s NärConWinter2015 and CosplaySM2015. More than a year since my cosplay crisis stared. I was invited as a judge, but all feelings of the need to prove myself was gone; they wanted me because I can judge, not because of the quality of my cosplays. The competitions (especially CosplaySM2015), seeing Karu’s skit, and getting to know VändettA made me inspired to compete, do skits, and record videos/cmv. After the con the pepp was high, I hadn’t felt this good and excited since NärCon2013, one of the last cons before my crisis began. This feeling stayed for many days, but suddenly it stopped.
I may have gotten rid of the expectations, and the feeling that I need to prove myself. But I still haven’t completely found my way back to what I think is fun with cosplay. Because I still can’t see cosplay the same way I did two years ago, so I need to re-find what I think is fun with cosplay.
Do I really enjoy building cosplays? Maybe… I’m good at solving building problems and figure out how to make stuff. The problem is that I can never find the material or parts I need, and if I do find it then I don’t have the tools, space, or skill to actually build the stuff. It is very frustrating to know what to do, but not being able to do it (I guess that is one of the reasons I enjoy being a judge; I know how to make most things, but I don’t need to actually make anything to put my knowledge to use). However, when I do get my hands on the material, and when I do have the tools, space, and skills needed, then building stuff goes fast and is very fun.
Do I really want to compete? No, not really. The high level of quality in today’s competitions would probably just make me stressed and panic again. No, I don’t want to compete, not in Master and not in CosplaySM. Maybe in Intermediate, but only as a fun thing to do, and not as a goal.
Do I really want to do skits, videos, and CMVs? I don’t know, I haven’t done it before, so I can’t tell if it’s fun or not, and I would probably need to find someone to do it with before I can try.
Whenever I do something in the future I need to ask myself “If this really fun? Do I do this because it’s fun, or is there any other reason?”
One thing that I do know is fun is doing stuff with friends, there is only one problem with this: I have plenty of cosplay friends, but no one is within a reasonable travel distance, so I can’t meet them outside of conventions.
I’m still not out of this cosplay crisis, but I’m starting to see the end of it. I need to find what I think is fun with cosplay, and focus on that. And I need to figure out how to do stuff with my cosplay friends between the cons.