And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time~T.S. Eliot
I often find myself looking forward to a trip, not only for the adventure or escape, but also so that I can come home again and see my everyday surroundings in a different light. this brings to mind Bilbo, and how different things must have looked to him when he went back home to his Hobbit hole. I’ve always likened the whirlwind of finding Richard and becoming part of this fandom to Bilbo, at the beginning of The Hobbit: an unexpected journey, when he runs down the lane enthusiastically shouting “I’m going on an adventure!”
As I reached my two year anniversary of this blog in May and headed into my third year of following Richard Armitage, I vowed to spend some time looking back at the characters that Richard has portrayed, comparing my impressions of them. participating in the Blog Introspection Challenge played into the looking back theme nicely, encouraging me to peruse my blog posts and note how blogging itself had affected me over my span of time in the fandom. I had another occasion, recently, that found me looking back at things in a similar way. it caused me to create an outline of sorts that followed the timeline of my blog, highlighting certain events and thoughts for me to ponder. the process turned out to be an important part of my journey as a fan but very difficult. and lonely. because it touched upon things that are taboo to talk about in fandom. I feel as if I truly cannot move forward until I acknowledge it, because this blog was originally formed to recall my “fan path” and this struggle was part of the journey. I hope it can help others who may be struggling with something similar.
When I almost said goodbye and how it broke my heart
My readers may have sensed that something was going on with me. I was struggling- putting out less blog posts, hitting writer’s block walls, and just generally pulling away from everything fandom related. I assured everyone that I wasn’t quitting, just pulling back a bit, and that was true…until it wasn’t. when I hit rock bottom, I would go back to my Love Day post and try to push through the disheartening confusion. it was rough but I eventually made it through, with much soul searching and some help from a friend who was willing to hold candid conversations with me behind closed doors (thank you, friend!).
The fandom experience and how we see Richard meets an individual need for each of us. when that need starts to change, it can be confusing and scary. sometimes it’s morphing and evolving into something new, while other times it’s slowly being choked out. when you’re in the middle of it, it can be really hard to tell the difference. my struggle was a result of what I was no longer getting from the RA fan experience, the feeling of fulfillment as I bonded with the object of my affection. the issue that I just couldn’t seem to ignore any longer was Richard’s penchant for being a people-pleaser. it bothered me, and I felt guilty that it bothered me. I’m not one to just sit back and take things, I have a hard time not standing up for myself and others. knowing which battles to fight and making sacrifices for the greater good, are concepts I’ve had to learn through much trial and error.
I like to complain. cynical complaining is my favorite. Richard doesn’t complain much, does he? (at least not where we can see) he never seems to judge and he has loads of patience… he’s just so damn good, all of the time. how can I possibly emulate that? I try but I still have those “throwing chairs out windows” moments more often than I would like. in short, I was feeling like I wasn’t good enough.
the differing likes and dislikes between Richard and myself never really bothered me until this one thing did. then I started to take a closer look at those differences and began to wonder: are Richard and I too different? because of this, one of the actors I follow on the side started to move towards the forefront of my attentions. he is someone who seems all around more like me. he doesn’t reach me in the same way, deep down, that Richard does though. he hasn’t inspired me, both creatively and personally, like Richard has. but it was just easier. I suddenly found myself part of a triangle that I didn’t know how to get out of. now don’t get me wrong, a Richard Armitage/Jamie Dornan sandwich isn’t the worst possible place to be, but I had some issues to work through and I had to do it alone.
why? why can’t we mention other crushes or things we find less than desirable about Richard, without fear of reprimand? (sometimes harsh reprimand) what is up with this unspoken competition of who is the best fan, the truest fan? if someone doesn’t like a particular role that Richard took, didn’t feel his performance was all that, or doesn’t happen to like his choice of clothes/hair/personal likes and dislikes, why are they seen as less of a fan?
I think as long as we’re polite, not constantly picking apart everything that Richard does, that some disagreement is healthy. can even be enlivening. and opening yourself up to different experiences by following other actors (if you so choose) can be enlightening. kind of like Bilbo, and the different way he saw the world after venturing away from his safe little Hobbit hole.
I’m reminded of a little incident I still get teased about from from time to time from my earlier life. when I was first dating my husband and he introduced me to his friends for the first time, they naturally wanted to know a bit more about me. as the questions of favorite music/bands/songs, etc started to feel more like a test, I replied with the now infamous line “I like what he likes”. as they got to know me better they discovered that although he and I do tend to have the same taste when it comes to certain things, it by no means encompasses everything. I have my own mind. do we have to like what Richard likes? do we have to behave as Richard does? do we need Richard’s approval in order to feel worthy? if I “like what Richard likes” all those meet-cutes that I’m constantly daydreaming about won’t be nearly as exciting if (when?) they actually happen…
Why I’m still here
I’m still here because I enjoy being a fan of Richard Armitage. I admire him, his personal brand of acting fascinates me, his personality warms me, his presence electrifies me. being a fan of Richard Armitage is good for me. being a part of this fandom has enriched me intellectually and culturally, it’s helped me grow as a person. and blogging about all of these things has cultivated my writing skills and boosted my self-confidence. being a fan of Richard Armitage keeps my synapses crackling!
I want to feel enlivened, enlightened, I want to continue to see the world in a different way. I can do that by following Richard’s career, and everything that trickles down from it. he has a profound effect on me. alike, different, easy, hard and everything in between. he affects me in a meaningful way.
I’m still here.