Editor’s note: We’re featuring a series of guest posts by the fabulous Emily Swayne, a geeky therapist who sees clients at Blue Box Counseling & Wellness in Minnesota.
This week, Emily is talking about our fan favorite, Twilight, and the comfort and resilience we can find in media.
I still remember back in high school when one of my closest friends excitedly told me I HAD to read a book she just finished.
Friends, that book was Twilight, and it sparked my love for those books and my introduction to that fandom. Flash forward an undisclosed number of years and we’ve cycled through a Twilight craze, a hate on and cringe about Twilight phase, and fully looped back around to the world of Forks and it’s sparkly residents being beloved far and wide, with even RPattz himself asserting that hating on Twilight isn’t cool anymore.
Being someone who thinks a lot about a lot of things, I’ve found myself pondering the timing and impacting factors around Bella and Edward’s return and Twilight’s renaissance at this particular snapshot in time. Maybe it’s just because the Twilight saga hit Netflix again, but I have a suspicion that the world feels pretty scary right now and for many of us Forks is a place that feels familiar and safe.
This can really apply to any fandom; it doesn’t have to be Twilight. But as I’ve thought about this phenomenon, I realized how much of a rough place I was in when I first read the Twilight books (and the second time) and realized that they were a safe escape for a kid who didn’t have the ability or resources to leave a bad situation yet. I could read books and for a little while be somewhere different than where I was. It makes so much sense to me that we would be longing for this now. The world can be a scary, stressful, unpredictable place in the best of times and the past couple of years have felt far from the best of times. So why wouldn’t we want to return to places, characters, and stories that made us feel safe in the past?
As humans we tend to seek what feels familiar, almost like following a homing beacon. This is part of why we can keep getting ourselves into relationships or situations that feel familiar, even if they’re ones that don’t go well for us. Our systems want to survive and seek what feels safe; and what is familiar tends to feel safe, even if it’s the exact opposite. Sometimes it can be hard to realize we’re doing this because it is often driven by things that we may not even be consciously aware of. However, as we continue to grow, learn, and heal we can start to differentiate what is actually helpful for us, what no longer is, or perhaps never was.
All this is to say that life can be tough and the world can feel scary, so if revisiting Forks or somewhere else through movies, books, tv shows, comic books, music, fanfic, etc. helps you cope, then why not? I’m a big fan of advocating for each person to do whatever makes their weird hearts happy (as long as it’s not hurting themselves or others, of course). I also happen to be a big believer in the need for play and whimsy no matter what age we are. So, if you’re having a rough day or week or month or year(s), maybe try revisiting some of your favorites, whether it’s been decades or just a couple hours. You might be surprised how good it feels to reconnect with old friends, even if they’re fictional.
Want to explore the healing power of fun and fandom with a therapist who really gets it? Reach out to Emily to schedule today.