Media tells a narrow story about who is and who isn’t a fangirl. A teenager locking lips with her 5 Seconds of Summer poster? Yes. A college student updating her Vampire Diaries fan fiction? Sure. But what about the lawyer waltzing into court, or the teacher mesmerizing her students? The mom sneaking downstairs to unload her DVR? Because they too are among us.
As much as the media portrays it to be, fangirling isn’t a stage of psychosocial development. Yet that narrative dictates that a woman should hang up her emotions the second she shimmies into a power suit. She must delete her fanfic account the day she rides off into the sunset with the other half of her own OTP. But I’m here to bring you some good news. 30 is the new 13 when it comes to fangirling.
Experienced fangirls have access to enough power and wisdom to know that our passions are anything but a waste of time. So if you haven’t noticed the senior members among you, here are a few reasons why fangirling in your 30s is a hell of a lot more fun than it ever was.
You stop policing youths.
Fangirling past 30 is like a fine wine, so you don’t want to waste those precious drops of your time fighting with infuriating Internet logic. When you were younger and had that fresh college knowledge, it was oh so tempting to stop the haters in their tracks. To intervene in arguments about who’s more racist or which character is more problematic. But as you get older, the urge to “WELL ACTUALLY” someone dies down.
Why does this happen? You realize that it’s not your personal responsibility to correct every 15-year-old’s understanding of Sansa Stark’s character development. You begin to see the nuances in arguments, and you also start to realize that you should work on your own biases as much as you school others. Older fangirls are also less likely to shame people for how they choose to spend their time online. If your friends want to get their rage about #The100 trending, well good for them.
You get better at choosing friends.
Fangirling in your teens and 20s is a lot about learning to sort through the riff raff of the Internet. It’s easy to get caught up in the allure of being queen of a fandom, or having the most visited fansite. You want everyone to like you, even the drama llamas who are mean to everybody.
Eventually, you start to recognize those flashing red lights that help you steer clear of certain humans. You seek out the funny, mature folks who will text you fluffy thoughts about your favorite ships during a tough day, and you let the crown of popularity bear down on someone else’s head. Who cares if you have ten thousand followers when you’ve found five friends who would fight to the death for you? Or better yet, help you afford a hotel room at a fan convention?
It gets easier to quit your faves.
It took me many, many years of having my life ruined by Shonda Rhimes to realize that the world won’t end if I stop watching a television show. Just because it once gave me sky high feelings doesn’t mean I have to pull out all the stops to try and prolong the emotional roller coaster ride.
When you’ve fangirled for a few decades, you learn to cope with the reality that one day you will wake up, look at a photo of your favorite actress, and discover that the feeling is just. . .GONE. Or you’ll watch your ship sink and shrug your shoulders, knowing that two more random idiots will soon enter your life and reign supreme. For every ship there is a season. A time to weep, and a time to read every smut fan fic you can possibly find, and a time to move on. The 30-year-old fangirl gets this.
You can buy ALL THE STUFF.
There is nothing worse than being a teenage fangirl who can’t afford tickets or merch. But a senior fangirl? She can hop on a train or a plane and see her fave on stage. She can buy that pricey photo at a convention if she wants it, because DAMMIT SHE WORKS HARD AND SHE DESERVES NICE THINGS.
The thrill of writing off going to Comic Con as a business expense is just about the best feeling in the world. The older fangirl also gets to be a fairy godmother to all her younger friends, sharing her HBOGo password and sending Etsy gifts to make them smile or survive finals.
You couldn’t care less about the haters.
A funny and wonderful thing happens once you hit 30. You begin to realize that you’re going to piss off all sorts of people when you start living your life authentically. When they realize that you couldn’t care less whether they’ve found your secret Tumblr account or suspect you stayed up all night working on your podcast.
It’s no more your job to comfort the butthurt than it is to apologize for trotting around like the unicorn that you are. You feel comfortable in your own skin, and aren’t planning on shedding it for a more boring, reptilian existence.
Yes, there are things about fangirling that never change. Society may always pressure us to hang up our feelings the second we get the hang of extreme adulting. People will always be mean and rude and wrong on the Internet, and it will still drive us crazy sometimes. But we begin to learn that our passions are not a virus, or parasites that should have that hopped off the second we left adolescence. They’re the weapons we carry into battle as we conquer in all arenas of life. They’re the voices of our favorite characters who remind us what we’re capable of.
If you’ve realized some of these truths earlier in life, then bravo. For me, it took me a while to get here. But I’ve finally learned that as long as story is a motivating force in my life, I will always be a fangirl. I will be sitting in assisted living, grinning as the drums of a Battlestar Galactica episode pulse out of my 6D TV goggles. I will be falling asleep at 6pm as my favorite fictional couples flirt and dance around my brain. Fangirling hasn’t failed me yet. I can’t wait to see what it will gift me at 40 and beyond.