This is going to be a bit of a rambly mess. I just wanted to get my thoughts written down so that I wouldn’t forget them later.
My Activity in the Cosplay Community
I’ve been cosplaying for quite a while now, but only recently did I start really putting in the extra effort to make things myself from scratch. Before, I was mostly buying things that were “close enough” and modifying them to my needs. My cosplays were never 100% accurate but I had fun doing it. I was consistently going to Animefest and A-kon in Dallas each year, but then I graduated college and started working full-time. Cosplay fell to the wayside, I stopped going to conventions, and—although I would occasionally put together something decent for Halloween—I fell out of touch with the cosplay community.
I think it was around this period that cosplay really started to take off, internet-wise. Cosplayers started making accounts for themselves on more mainstream social platforms like Facebook and Instagram. It was blowing up. The word “cosplay” was becoming a household term. This was a fantastic change! But I was very behind the curve. I didn’t make my Instagram account until this past March, my Facebook around May. So of course I’m playing catch-up on gaining an audience. Maybe if I hadn’t had that hiatus between 2011-2014, I could’ve leveraged the small following I had on Deviantart onto these new platforms, but that obviously didn’t happen. My numbers are pretty damn low when it comes to followers on anything. I’ll see other cosplayers with 3K followers on Instagram and wonder why I can’t even break 200 yet. Not to mention there are cosplayers out there with 10k-1mil followers. I find myself getting these nagging feelings of doubt:
Is it the quality of my work? Do I post too often? Do I not post often enough? Am I not coming off as very genuine? Does everyone just hate my face? What am I doing wrong and what are those other cosplayers doing right?
I let these stupid questions get to me so much that I didn’t focus on the most important question of them all:
Why Should I Even Care?
It’s just a number. Sure, each number is attached to a living breathing real-life human being on the other side of the screen (or sometimes a bot, whatever). But in the end, it’s just a number. If and when I hit 200, will I be happier? Maybe. But then I’ll just be sad that I don’t have 300. It’s a vicious cycle and it won’t ever end. There’s no end game. You can’t 100% Facebook or Instagram like you can a video game.
This morning, as I watched a friend’s vlog and saw another friend’s post on their cosplay photography account, I thought to myself “I need to do more. I need to pump out more content so I can get more followers.” But then I finally asked myself, “Why? Why do I need more followers?” And I found I couldn’t find an answer.
I don’t want to be famous. Yes, I want my hard work to be acknowledged, but I don’t see myself becoming a full-time cosplayer. Sure, I’d love to be a person that can help others in the craft, but there are so many cosplayers out there that do that already. What do I do differently that others don’t already do? What value can I add?
The truth is, right now, I don’t know. And that’s okay. I’m learning as I go with this whole thing.
For now, I’ll continue to make cosplays that I enjoy at my own pace. I’ll update my facebook and instagram whenever I feel like it with whatever content I like. If people don’t find me, that’s okay. It’s tough to really let go of that competitive mindset, but I think I’ll be a lot happier and content with myself if I remember that I don’t really have an end goal in mind with cosplay. I just like doing it because I love creating and I love going to cons and meeting people who also love creating. I have the luxury of getting to do this for myself, without having to base my standards on anyone else’s but my own.
I know that Youtube and videos are really where it’s at right now as I continue to churn out long blog posts that very few people read. (If you’re reading this right now, I love you and appreciate you!) But I like writing. I always have. So I’ll continue to write for myself and for any of you out there who enjoy this. I’ll try to do more video too, it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it.
Each blog post, video, and picture might just be white noise in the vastness that is the internet. I’m adding my voice to millions in an attempt to be heard. I know it may be fruitless, but I love progress. I like seeing my own progress just like I enjoy seeing other people’s progress. So at the very least, I’m doing this for Future Ash to enjoy.
That’s really all that matters.