I wrote this piece for BSU Daily but due to some complications it never ran. Thought I’d post it here instead. 🙂 Enjoy!
Why I Don’t Fangirl
Okay, so I did fangirl ONCE.
A while ago my favorite choral composer came to Ball State and held a concert, and although I am not often prone to freaking out about the Famous Ones in our society, this time I felt something shift inside. Perhaps it was a barrier of pride or some other dysfunction. But this was ERIC WHITACRE, for goodness sake. So I let my affected little barrier drop for a moment, and I let myself get excited. Like, REALLY excited. I teared up as he conducted the most beautiful-sounding choir I’d heard in years, sat rapt, taking notes over his speech and the Q & A, and then (GASP) I stood in line and I got to meet him. I hugged him! I asked for his autograph, and as he signed, I rambled about how thankful I was that he had graced the earth with his presence, that he was a lovely person, inspiring us all to be better artists, and all-in-all managed to look like the biggest bumbling fool.
And you know what? I don’t regret a thing. However, after I danced home on a fluffy, sparkling cloud of happiness and dreams and adrenaline and inspiration, I began to look back and wonder what the heck had gotten into me. I mean, I don’t fangirl. Normally.
Throughout life I’ve held the opinion that famous people aren’t worth getting more excited over than other people. Maybe that sounds fun-sucker-ish to you. Whatever. I’ve had the occasional impulse, but reason just kept me from full-out fangirling. Being a singer myself, I’ve always said, “why is someone more important just because they can make a pretty sound come out of their throat?” Of course I have people, other artists, whose work I appreciate immensely… my uh, “artist crushes,” as I call them. 😉 But since they usually aren’t in the media spotlight, I don’t have regular opportunities to realize the extent of my affection.
So when one of my artist crushes actually came around, I was caught off guard. Something unexpected rose up inside, exclaiming, “This is different! Yes, this person is unquestionably worth freaking out about.” That fangirling power swirled and swept me away, like it does for so many people in our society. But after the rush of adrenaline had passed, the crowd’s collective behavior (and my own) brought the questions surrounding this issue bubbling back to the forefront of my mind.
Why does his talent give him more worth? Is it his work, or his charismatic personality that we admire? Why do we collectively long to praise his holy hairstyle?
Sitting in the audience, I felt like I was floating in a sea of inconsequential peons gazing up at his charm, grace, and genius. In all reality, some of the most talented people I know were floating in that crowd with me, destined to do great things. But because Eric was already successful, we treated him with increased respect, enjoyment and generally chose not to search for any possible flaws. I’ll be the first to say, it would appear he has none. But I know in the back of my brain that he’s just another human, and has only worked hard to follow his natural gifting and passions.
Unintentionally, I had been engaging in this societal mindset of being extremely selective in who we treasure. But what deems a person special enough to receive this treatment? Why don’t we treat each person with such enthusiastic respect? We tend to observe people around us in a more judicial, intimate way. We see both their strengths and their weaknesses. We are annoyed by their weaknesses, in spite of their positive attributes. And subconsciously we think, “Surely Eric Whitacre or Jennifer Lawrence or Ellen Degeneres would never do something as downright stupid as that person.” But they probably would, and we readily ignore that fact.
Let’s imagine that there exists a “fangirling intensity scale.” It’s good to have role models, and it’s good to express admiration to people whose professional work has had a positive effect on your life. It’s good to be inspired. That’s still the green zone. But if we’re honest, this is not what fangirling typically looks like in our society. America is in the red zone of the scale; it looks like keeping up on celebrities’ lives more than the lives we come into contact with every day, obsessing over what they say and what they wear, feeling less special than the ones in the spotlight. But the question remains: is that person truly more special? I believe the answer is no.
Each person is exceptional for some reason or another, mostly just for being a bundle of atoms miraculously held together by a delicate balance of chemical reactions. What if we fangirled, just a little, about every person in our societal networks? Esteemed them just because they have their passions and talents, even if they’re only in the potential-success phase instead of the real-success phase, or if they never achieve what the world deems as success. It doesn’t make sense to support people because they’re already awesome; let’s support people so they can be awesome.
It’s fun to support the talented people in the spotlight, but as I move forward after my only true fangirling experience, I’m rethinking how I distribute my affections. I think I’ll reclaim my original stance, with a little amendment: people are not intrinsically more important if they have a special talent. Fangirling over celebrities just because they are famous is still not my thing. However, I’m not ready to give up fangirling just yet. I want to go through life cherishing and enjoying everyone I come into contact with as if they are a living, breathing miracle. Because truly, that’s what they are.