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Living a Double Life: My Fandom Experience

In June of 2015, I attended a concert that would forever alter the way I listen to music. After witnessing the best concert of my life at the time, I became enthralled with the band Imagine Dragons. Little did I know, a whole world of people who shared the same feelings I had for this band were all on Twitter.

As described by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a fandom is a “state or attitude of being a fan,” but what lies in the heart of a fandom is so much more than that. A fandom is an online friend group usually created to support an interest, such as a band or an entertainment icon. Being involved in a fandom allows me to connect with people from all over the world who share the same interest in Imagine Dragons just as I do and correspond meetings at concerts and events we can attend together.

When I first saw Imagine Dragons on their Smoke and Mirrors tour in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I had enjoyed listening to their music, but never really invested myself in listening to them all the time. But I realized that their music creates a truly indescribable atmosphere, and that their concert was the best concert I’ve ever been to. That night following the concert, I was scrolling through Twitter and happened to stumble upon a few members of their fan-base.

Reading through their stories and experiences with this band intrigued me and I finally connected with people who felt the same way about Imagine Dragons’ music as I did. I spent the rest of that night sitting in the dark while listening closely to all of their songs and decoding every lyric. It was so comforting to me knowing that I was not the only one battling these insecurities they talk about in their songs, insecurities I have struggled with all my life.

Over the next few weeks, I became more involved in the fandom, or the “firebreathers.” I started connecting with a lot of the fandom members and even found that there was a local fandom community.

Throughout my senior year of high school, I developed anxiety around people and really became consumed in a false image I had of myself that I wasn’t good enough. I felt so alone and became insecure to the point that I tried to shut everyone out to save myself from being judged. These insecurities created such a weight on my shoulders to try to “fit-in” and alter my personality for others instead of being true to myself.

Although it may sound completely unrealistic, I truly believe that if I did not have this band or their music, I would not be the person I am today. I overcame some of the darkest points in my life by listening to their Night Visions album, which led me to getting a “Night Visions” tattoo to remind me of how far I have come from those turbulent times.

I take every one of their lyrics to heart. The songs’ messages create such a sense of comfort and solidarity and have taught me that there is so much more to life than what others make of you. From the first time I logged into Twitter and following nearly everyone with “Imagine Dragons” in their bio, I found that I wasn’t alone, and many other people experience the same struggles  I do, but are afraid to share outside of this safe place among fandom members.

I have always been insecure and private about this side of my life, fearing that in this crazy college world people might believe that I am just and overly-obsessed, emo band-freak and then avoid being friends with me. Although many oppose the idea of a totally “online universe,” arguing that it is making people more anti-social, being in a fandom has brought so much happiness and amazing memories into my life.

Being in a fandom has especially allowed me to be more open and social with other people. This past November, (after buying about 20 copies of Imagine Dragons’ new album “Evolve” for a contest) I finally got to meet the band that changed my life and actually attend the concert with some of my friends whom I met through the fandom. Being able to attend a concert with people who understand and share the same passion as you do is such a beautiful memory that I would never take for granted.

Being in a fandom has helped me learn a lot about how to cope with certain things and become a more caring person overall. I have never seen so much love being spread around in one place and everyone is constantly uplifting each other. It is such a wholesome experience when one of the band members interacts and notices us because they truly care about us, too, and strive their best to always keep us on our feet with excitement about what’s next.

I wouldn’t trade these past three years being in the Imagine Dragons fandom for the world, and I am eternally grateful for all of the friends and opportunities that have come about of this experience.

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