It takes me much pain to admit this, but yes, I am an avid fanfiction reader. One Direction only, of course. See, I discovered fanfic almost three years ago, after first becoming a Directioner. I hadn’t understood, or really even taken the time to check out, the obsession until I clicked on my first Wattpad discovery. And it was all downhill from there.
I do not want to tell you all what my favorite fanfics are, because if you were to search them up and read them, for me that would be mildly humiliating. What I will acknowledge is that most of the fics I obsessively indulge in are absurdly popular on and off the internet. See, one certain Harry Styles fanfic has been developed into a book series. Can you believe that? The all-powerful internet, meshed with the unbreakable and insurmountable power of fandoms, has turned into one of the most powerful toolkits for writers and readers today. What is it about fanfiction that makes so many teenagers, so many people, go perhaps literally insane with weird and unpredictable emotions?
We all have that one brilliant ambition, our dream, to do whatever we are passionate about while having someone alongside us. Our other half. Our person. And yes, of course, when we young people haven’t found that person yet, we imagine them to be someone we idolize. Celebrities. We need someone to put our hope in, so we chose those who we perceive as perfect. Someone, perhaps, like One Direction. Of course, we don’t actually know these people. I could read every tweet, every Instagram caption, every article, learn as much as I possibly can about one of these celebrities and I would still not truly know them, every inch of who and what they really are. To us fans, they have no fatal flaws, no hamartia to dwell on. To us, their “flaws” are small and make them even more perfect. Of course this isn’t the truth. I desperately wish I knew those five boys, but in all honesty, I really don’t.
So fanfiction allows us a gateway to our dreams, written out on screen for us to bask and live in. We live out our dreams in a story that has been so generously shared and created for us by someone carrying the same dreams. We share our sometimes seemingly insanely unrealistic dreams, passions. It makes us all feel as if we know these celebrities, like we actually might have a chance with them. We feel like we can really connect to them, relate to them in different and uncommon ways. Of course, the personas of these people that we read about probably are not even remotely true. They’re guesses. They’re what we want them to be, our deluded illusion of who they are. But they are truly just people, tragically and numerously flawed, screwed up humans, like us. As Niall Horan says (indeed, I memorized this quote), they’re normal people with abnormal jobs.
I love reading fanfic not just because it allows me to “get to know” my idols, but because it really and truly shows the creativity certain celebrities inspire. You can say whatever you want about One Direction (just don’t say it to me), but you can never say they don’t have the most dedicated and talented fans in the world. I don’t like how condescending people can be, the agonizingly patronizing way adults shake their heads at me when I say I’m a Directioner, smiling and saying “You’ll forget all their names by next year. It’s just a stupid phase.”
Maybe that’s so, but guess what! I don’t give a damn if it’s a phase, maybe it is (trust me, it’s not, it’s lasted almost five years) but what does that even matter? Why does it matter, if I truly and deeply love something, how long that love lasts? It’s very damn rare to actually find a feeling, in adolescence, that makes you unspeakably happy. Fanfiction is the nearest escape route to calm. The exit sign of the internet.
Adolescence is the constant stage of always searching for something, but never really knowing what that something is. All I know is that I want to want something that will make the muted voice inside of my soul scream so loudly that I will be deaf to anyone else’s voices but my own, and those who I have to try to hear. And though I have not found my passion yet, reading fanfic helps me have a passion. I am a crazy Directioner because they let me feel something great, something beautiful and maybe reckless and naive, but it’s still something. I feel that too often, teenagers feel like we have to be silenced and indifferent to everything. What’s wrong with feeling insane once in a while? What’s wrong with turning that insanity into something good, something that you can share with all of those other people who feel the same way? Feelings aren’t going anywhere, are they? So why pretend that we don’t love something all for the sake of being perceived as indifferent?
To reiterate all of my endless rambling, fanfiction is the blissfully accessible gateway to feeling things other than nothing. It’s acceptable, when we read/write/devour fanfiction, because all of our “crazy” feelings can be channeled into writing. We’re in our own world of feeling happy. It’s quite incredible, the way we have taken our favorite idols and turned them into our own works of art. And of course, there’s always going to be badly written, idiotic/offensive fanfic, but there’s also always going to be quality, incredible writing out there.
One Direction, as well as many other celebrities, have inspired so much… art and change and pure unity, within people, mainly teenage girls, but for me, being a teenage girl is EXACTLY the time when I most need this inspiration, to keep on going, to simply keep breathing. Being a teenager, much like being a messy human, is sort of impeccably hellish, as it should be. And fanfiction serves the purpose of giving us a little escape from hell into something better. It inspires something in me, to start something, to… believe that one day, I will be able to have my person.
Preferably, one out of those five boys.