Fandom Equals Family


Growing up, I was always passionate about books and films. I'm a girl who would rather spend her Friday night at home getting lost in a really dark and twisted mystery book or watching a classic psychological thriller. Like most other people my age, I'm pretty confident that the first fandom that I was apart of was the Harry Potter fandom. But of course, I didn't know what a 'fandom' was back then. 

I can remember the exact moment that I started watching Sherlock, not long after Series 2 aired for the first time. I was in my high school English class and my teacher, who was busy marking exam papers, put it on for our class to watch. A few of my friends had already seen it, but truthfully I had never heard much about it before. I was told that I'd love it, due to being a huge fan of detective series and detectives. Little did I know that it was about to completely take over my life.

During my time in the fandom, I have been lucky enough to visit beautiful London and see some of the amazing Setlock locations with my own eyes. I love London with all my heart and so being able to visit the stunning city as often as I do makes me incredibly happy. 

I've always thought that it sounds cheesy, to say that 'Sherlock has changed my life,' but it completely has. I remember bursting with excitement when I discovered that series 3 was about to air for the first time. I was nervous, particularly because I didn't know how they could possibly make it any better than the previous series. I remember watching each episode and falling more and more in love with the show. I was left completely speechless - but not for long because I had already started creating my own theories as to how Moriarty could be back. My friends and most of my family have seen the show, but none of them were super crazy about it like me. I needed other people to talk to about it with. To share and discuss theories and our love for the show, actors and the team behind the cameras. That's when I decided to create a fan account on Instagram. 

I had absolutely no idea where to start, but I quickly made friends and it wasn't long before I reached my first 100 followers. The purpose of creating a fan account was simply so that I could express my own thoughts and opinions on the show, discuss theories and share my love and admiration for the cast and crew with other people, who like me, had fallen in love with this stunning adaptation of the original stories. One of the first things that I discovered about being apart of a fandom, was that you're never alone. Often people tell you that Internet friends aren't 'real friends.' But they couldn't be more wrong. For a long time, I was known as my username and nothing more, partly because I was scared of people knowing who I really was. However, it wasn't long before I felt confident enough to share my side of the story with my closest followers. Who I was, where I'm from and what I looked like. With every single day that passed, I grew more and more as a person. I was never particularly confident growing up. I had my insecurities, like most people. But I never really felt like I had a real place anywhere, that I was apart of something. However, I soon started to discover new things about myself, things that I liked. I felt so accepted and I can't stress enough just how much that helped to improve my confidence. I'd often receive compliments - whether it was a personal photo or an edit I had made in my spare time. And with every single like, comment and follow, I felt more and more like I was apart of something special.

I asked some of my friends on social media to write about how being apart of the Sherlock fandom has changed their life for the better. These were only a few of the beautiful, eye opening responses that I received. It just goes to show how much of a positive impact a fandom can have on someone's life. 

Throughout my time running a fan account, I struggled with a lot of personal issues. Whether it was having my first panic attack, being diagnosed with anxiety, battling through my GCSE exams or starting college. There have been numerous times where I had decided that enough was enough and that I would delete the account and focus on myself a little more, but I could never bring myself to do it. And looking back, I am so relieved that I decided to keep it. During those difficult times, I would often feel brave enough to post a long caption and explain to my followers why I haven't been very active on my account lately. I would never expect a response, I'd just hope that they would all understand. And they did. Not only that, but so many people took the time out to send me paragraphs of support, love and encouragement, including people telling me that I wasn't alone and that they too were struggling with something very similar. Immediately, it made me feel better. Knowing that other people were going through the same things as you, knowing that you could help each other, made all the difference.  I've always had a great deal of support and even on my bad days, there was always someone who could manage to help me find my smile again. 

Regardless of whether I'm having a good or bad day, receiving compliments and words of love, support and encouragement makes my day. I honestly don't know what I've done to deserve the kindness that I receive by people in this incredible fandom, but I am so grateful to know them. The best and bravest people I know and on top of that, they actually make me the happiest I have ever been. 

Gradually, I was getting to know more and more people which helped me develop skills and once again, I felt as though this gave me the chance to be who I really am without the constant worry that someone would judge me for it. I have learnt about different people with different backgrounds, cultures, genders, sexuality, ethnicity, beliefs etc. People within this fandom come from all over the world and we have been brought together by sharing one love that we all have in common. If that isn't beautiful, I don't know what is.  I made my first pen pal which was absolutely incredible. And a few days before my account celebrated it's first year, I met my first internet friend. Coincidentally, we had both gone to the same place on holiday and decided to meet. Of course, this threw my anxiety all over the place. But I also knew that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity. That was a year ago and since then, I've been to stay with her and we visit London as often as we possibly can. From that moment, I've gone on to meet a few more internet friends, all of whom I completely love and adore. I can't count the number of close friends I have made through simply expressing my love and passion for this show. We started off by having one thing in common, one thing that brought us all together. Now, I can safely say that I've made friends for life and I honestly can't wait to meet more of them at the SHERLocked Convention September, 2016. I am beyond excited to experience the atmosphere at the convention. Being in a room full of people who love the show, cast and crew just as much as I do will be overwhelming and surreal to say the least.

Some of the beautiful cards and letters I have received over the last year.

Left: This photo is of me and Ellie in Covent Garden, London, November 2015. I had always admired Ellie and I think she's a beautiful person with a kind heart. Meeting her made me so happy and I can't wait to see her again this September.
Right: This photo is of me and Amy next to the London Eye, July 2016. We hadn't originally planned to meet. Only when I was walking down South Bank did I realise that Amy was in London. I was so excited to meet her and she's honestly so beautiful and amazing. We were both shaking the whole time but Amy is so lovely and hopefully I can see her again soon.

This beautiful girl is Tamzin. I met her one year ago today (06/08/2015) in Tenerife. She was the first internet friend that I met and I can't tell you how much she has changed my life. She's got the kindest heart and our adventures together always put the biggest smile on my face. I feel so incredibly lucky that we found each other and I only have this beautiful fandom to thank for bringing us together. 

This week, 13K friends later(shared between Instagram and Twitter), on the 10th August 2016, I am celebrating exactly 2 years since I first created my fan account. I had absolutely no idea just how much it would change my life. It has allowed me to open up and be myself, something I used to struggle with a great deal. I have gained so much more confidence and I now have a much better idea of who I am and where I want to be. It has created the most incredible opportunities for me, developed my personality and allowed it to shine. I have gone out of my comfort zone more than once, and I haven't allowed my anxiety to stop me from doing what I want to achieve. Meeting new people and seeing new places is what allows you to grow in life. I have already learnt so many things that I might never have known had I not been apart of a fandom. This year, I finally defeated the demons inside my head that made me feel incredibly insecure about my writing and I have nearly completed my first fanfiction with over 13K reads. Without the encouragement and wonderful, positive comments and support from my followers, I know I never would have achieved it. Being accepted by other people has allowed me to accept myself for who I really am. I'm proud of myself for everything I have achieved with the help from the people in this fandom who I am proud to call my friends. 

This screenshot is from one of my Skype calls with the most amazing bunch of people I've ever known. There are sixteen of us in total and we're all apart of the most incredible group chat on Twitter where we love and support each other, share laughter, inside jokes, and be there for each other. I love and adore each and every single one of them with all my heart and I know that I wouldn't be who I am today without them by my side.

There are numerous critics that fall under the social media category. If you're not careful, it can be a very dangerous place to be. Trust me, I've witnessed enough negativity and drama to last a lifetime. Every fandom goes through something or another. Most of the time it involves a certain ship. It can create disagreements that cause the fandom to divide, which is truly the most heartbreaking consequence about it all. However, despite the odd hiccup every now and then, I'm extremely proud to be apart of the Sherlock fandom. I feel so lucky to be apart of something as amazing as this. I wouldn't change a single thing about it, apart from maybe the distance between me and the people I share this joy with. As you know, the Sherlock fans have a while to wait between each new series. It can be frustrating to say the least at times. People often ask "how do you manage to get through it?" In reality, the answer is pretty simple. We get through it because we have each other. Despite the Sherlockians being spread all around the world, I've always thought that we're a very close fandom. We'll always have each other's reichenbach if we ever fall. And in this fandom, if one of us falls, we all fall. 

So many fandoms are noticed for having a bad reputation. But I can safely say from my own experience that being apart of something that is truly amazing, is the best feeling. One day, hopefully not one day soon (and knowing Sherlock, I doubt it will be) the show will very sadly come to an end. Undoubtedly, it will be difficult. Especially since the show has been apart of our lives for such a long time. But I know, that even when the camera stops rolling for the very last time, we'll still have each other. I owe so much to the writers and creators of this beautifully outstanding show. I have made it through some of the best and worst times of my life during my time in this fandom. Most importantly, they have brought us all together and for that alone, I am eternally grateful. 

I hope you enjoyed reading this. Please let me know what you think and feel free to share your own experience being apart of the fandom in the comments.

As always, lots of love.
Megan X

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