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Fantasies, Fandoms, and Dragons!

November 9, 2014
Last November I had the chance to meet the author of one of my favorite fantasy series, R.A. Salvatore, during a book signing tour of his latest book in the Drizzt Do'Urden series, Rise of the King. I was thrilled that he was actually coming to my city, and I was even more thrilled to see so many other people there who actually enjoyed the same fantasy world I like to jump into every now and then. Because after a long day, sometimes my favorite thing to do is to curl up on my couch with one of these books, and jump into a world of dark elves and dragons.

Fantasy is good. It's necessary. It helps us have rich inner lives. It lets us escape for a little while, and it benefits us in several ways. It allows us to be free within our own minds, to brainstorm, to create art, music, literature, entire communities dedicated to the thing we love, and so much more. Being engaged in fantasy worlds can lead to new friendships. Have you ever attended a convention and seen someone else dressed up as a character from one of your fandoms, and just kind of geeked out together because you can totally relate to one another? Or read a really good piece of fanfiction that you think expands on your favorite character's backstory in ways that maybe the author has not yet explored or explained? Or gone to the online forums only to meet others who share some of your theories about where the show/book/series/game might go next?

Fantasy can let us identify with and relate to others. It can create very strong bonds. Best of all, it's free. And as long as it is not abused, it can be very enriching.

So how do we know whether we are abusing fantasy?

This is what I call myself sometimes. Are you also a high-functioning fangirl/fanboy, or might you be abusing the fandoms?

Are you spending more time in your fantasy world rather than doing anything and everything else? Are your relationships suffering because you're putting more effort in your fantasy vs. your reality? Are you forgetting to take care of yourself for the sake of being active in your fantasy world, like, not showering, not eating, not sleeping, calling in sick to work because you're reading, writing fanfiction, creating fanart, or roleplaying online? If things in your real life are not getting done because of your fantasy life, if you've stopped taking care of yourself altogether, then you might want to really think about it.

Could fantasizing or being involved in your fandom actually be interfering with, rather than enriching, your life?

What do you do if you find that you might be abusing your fantasy world?

The first question to ask yourself might be why? Why is it better to not be a part of the "real" world? Is there something about the real world that is frightening, hurtful, or causing you any other type of negative emotion? Are there real life "dragons" that you're trying to escape? Is there something specific that you're trying to avoid?

Maybe it's not something that's happening, but something you need. Maybe you're not getting your needs met in the real world. Maybe RL things are just not as satisfying as they used to be. Is there something that you're missing?

Spending too much time in your fantasy life can be a sign that it's time to make some changes in your real life. Pay attention to what your fantasy world is trying to tell you about your reality, and think about whether you can make these changes by yourself, or with the help of a loved one or perhaps a therapist. While fantasizing and being a part of fandoms is awesome and rewarding, it shouldn't take priority over you.

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