We all have major stressors in our lives whether they’re small things that bother you on a constant basis or something that will come out of no where and smack you in the face. Whatever your stressor is, and whatever your level of stress is you will turn to one coping mechanism or another even without realizing it. There are many negative coping mechanisms out there that may be as minor as nail biting, twisting hair, chewing on pencils, etc. But they can also be as dangerous as smoking, over consumption of alcohol, drugs, self-harm, and so on. While many people out there may be thinking “Oh that could never be me I assure you that line that seems so difficult to cross will become more and more fine until one day you can barely see it anymore and you accidentally cross it. Then the excuses become “Just once” or “A little bit can’t hurt” until it develops into a full blown addiction or worse. Now I’m not saying that one bad day will turn into a full blown problem, but overtime if left untreated, stressors can cause huge problems.
Cosplay is a creative and emotional outlet that provides a healthy coping lifestyle. The best part of this way of coping is there is an entire community that will support you and not judge you based on the way you look or the way you act.
Yes, there are some bad eggs in the community who are just out to make people feel miserable but overall this is a very safe environment where not only will you see others doing the same thing as you, but you’ll be praised for how you’re coping. There is nothing more satisfying than going to a con dressed up in what you think is a terrible costume and having someone recognize your character and tell you you look amazing. Where else are you going to find that in society. And not only are these people complimenting you, they’re people who you’ve never met before which means, unlike family and friends, they have zero obligation to help you or make you feel good so when they compliment you or offer to help you know they really mean it.
Cosplay has so many different things involved that it keeps you busy and doesn’t allow you the time it takes to develop dangerous habits. If you’re planning a cosplay you’ll be staying home studying your character, perfecting your costume, and learning how to walk/talk/act.
Cosplay is EXTREMELY SOCIAL. Despite some uninformed opinions of cosplay, it is actually a very involved, social event. And the best part is you can make it as social or as isolated as you want. You can easily involve friends and family by having them watch your shows or read your comics and manga together. This not only gives you time to spend together watching and reading but it also provides you with conversation topics if this is someone that you don’t have much in common with. Have a sewing/pattern party. It can be just a few of you designing the patterns, planning out exactly what to buy, or having everyone bring their sewing machines over and sewing all night together. Whatever you need to do to get your cosplay done in a timely manner. Not only does this help you socialize when you would normally be isolated, but it provides healthy conversation topics and gets you actively working on something constructive and creative.
Conventions have a TON of people. This is one of the easiest ways to overcome social anxiety. Go with a small group of people that you’re comfortable with. If you want to stay invisible while getting used to the crowd just wear normal jeans and a shirt. You’ll be completely invisible to the crowd but still participating in a large social gathering. If you get overwhelmed there is always an empty corner somewhere you can go and just breathe for a little bit. Want to get a little more attention? Wear your favorite superhero or anime shirt. You’ll get a few compliments here or there but no major interactions. Really want to put yourself out there? WEAR YOUR COSPLAY. If you’re nervous about the attention be a lesser known character. If you’re good with people you can wear your favorite well known character. You can say no to pictures and hugs until you’re comfortable but you’ll get a ton of people wanting to look at you and talk to you!
Conventions are a great confidence booster because, as I said before, you’ll get a ton of compliments that people actually mean! Even if you think you look terrible I promise there’s someone out there who thinks you look amazing. This also gives you the opportunity to be someone you’re not.
If you’re normally shy and quite step outside of your comfort zone and be a loud obnoxious Grell, America, Italy, Tamaki, or any other character that you feel you would love to be! If you’re depressed and need a way to express it without judgment you can be a more depressed reserved character, on the other hand if you’re depressed and want to step out of the sadness and be happy for a while pick a character who has a very bright personality (I personally love Ranka from Ouran High School Host Club)!
I’ll be the first to admit that I used to have problems with self harm. I used to hate mysef, I thought I was ugly, I wanted to die, and I actually had made several attempt to go through with it. I would like to say I overcame it all on my own, I would also like to say that my dedicated friends pulled me out of it. But really what made me snap out of it was becoming Harley Quinn. I’m very meta so when I decided to become Harley I read up on a ton of psychology books, watch all of the Batman and DC everything, and even took forensic psych classes to learn what makes psychopaths tic. In all of that I found my answer for feeling normal again. No it did not come from the millions of psych books I read that probably made me more depressed than anything. It came from Harley’s story. Her personality and unyielding desire to help everyone. I’m proud to say I haven’t self harmed in almost two years now. And while that may not seem like an accomplishment to many I promise it’s just as hard to quit that as it is to stop smoking or drinking.
Addictions are simply coping mechanisms, find a new coping mechanism that you love, commit to it, and you can beat any addiction. Now does that mean I don’t partake in the occasional cigarette? No. I’m not perfect and I definitely still smoke once in a while. Does that mean I’ll never think about self harm again? Haha no. I still think about it once in a while. And honestly sometimes I feel the urge to do it and it’s so strong I almost give in. Does that mean I’m not depressed anymore and I’m finally happy all the time? Again no. I still go through fits of depression. Dealing with addictions and disorders are always always always going to be life long processes. You need to learn how to recognize when you’re going to to have a fit or when you feel the need to relapse and take necessary precautions. Typically I can feel myself getting depressed before it actually happens. If that happens I make sure I’m getting enough sleep and schedule activities for myself to keep my mind off of whatever is going on. Does this always work? Absolutely not. But having it work half the time is still a step in the right direction.
Cosplay has saved lives. It’s saved mine, it’s saved the life of one of my friends, and I genuinely believe it’s saved the lives of those out there who without cosplay would have no safe or positive outlet for their emotions.