I started cosplaying when I was in my sophomore year of high school. I had never heard of cosplay before and up until that point I had kept the fact that I watched anime a secret to everyone except those who were close to me. When I went to school cosplaying wasn’t cool or even remotely as acceptable as it is now, and watching anime was something only little kids and creeps did. My best friend, Michelle, and I had liked anime for a long time, starting with regular cartoons like “Totally Spies”, into what would be considered “acceptable” animes like “Pokemon”, and then into full blown animes like “Inuyashsa” ( which at the time was not nearly as well known as it is now. In the summer before my sophomore year one of my friends had gotten me into an anime called “Hetalia” which is the show that started my cosplay adventures.
This anime brought along a new group of friends for me as well as a new outlook on life. Michelle and I we not in the same grade so I had to find someone else to spend my days with at school. Conveniently another friend of mine, Amanda, had several classes with me so we grew to become quite close. She was the one to introduce me to “Hetalia” as well as a new world — and new friends — I didn’t even know existed. Her friends and I all got along pretty well and soon I was inviting them over for sleep overs, weekend trips, etc. One of those friends was a year older than us and ended up in a gym class of mine, seeing as we no longer talk I will no be mentioning her name out of respect for her. She and I were able to become quite close as well and because of my all too obvious crush on her I let her introduce me to cosplay. She was the America to my Iggy and we, along with all of our friends, headed out for my first ever “Convention,” I put that in quotes because you could hardly call it a convention compared to what’s going on in the world today. It was more of a tiny little library about 25 minutes away from home that had no more than 50 of us dressed up in costumes and playing games. But I’m certainly not complaining, that was probably — no, definitely — the best thing that could have happened to me.
I had struggled from depression for a while at that point, never feeling like I fit in, always feeling like I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t meant to be here. This little mess of a convention changed that around. Finally I found a place where I could be myself, test out new aspects of my personality, meet new people, and for once in my life not give a hoot about what people thought, or how odd I might seem. It was honestly a very liberating experience and I couldn’t be more thankful for it.
After a while I found out this little library ran an anime club and so my friends and I started attending it regularly, with the kind transportation of my grandfather who was all too supportive even though he had no idea why I had turned his best Green blazer into a mock British military uniform and started cross dressing to go to the library. Looking back he must have been so confused and probably not thrilled that I was dressing like a man. But with time he has grown to love my costumes and always is the first to ask to see them when I’ve finished a new one.
This little library convention introduced me to so many new friends and I will forever be grateful that it existed.