Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cosplay, aka Philosophy of the Day, aka I Love You, Doug

So, today I had the chance to join my brother downtown for an anime convention (I think?) called SoyCon. Now, I have never been particularly into anime, manga, or even most videogames...but I went out of love for my lil bro--because man I don't get to see him often enough! He was really excited that I'd take time out of my day to come see him (awh). Well, upon arriving (after I finally found him--you wouldn't believe how many people out of 500 have pink "hair!" :P) I felt...let's just say, out of place. Everyone was dressed as their favorite character--they "were" that character. Even my kid brother, Doug, was not Doug today...he was Marluxia from Kingdom Hearts (forgive me if I spelled any of that wrong). He had a long, bright pink wig, and carried a six foot scythe. (Yes, it was taller than me.)

Let me just tell you how amazing of an experience this was. Doug went to SoyCon in a group of about 5-6 people; two he knew well, and they each brought a friend/sibling. Doug was acquainted with a few other people that showed up...but the entire group consisted of (reportedly) 500 people. And you know what? They all got along. There was such a large sense of community...even the "enemies" from the shows got along, took pictures together, and exchanged "life" stories. They ate together, laughed together, sang together (albeit sometimes badly), walked together, and just...were together.

And yet...I didn't quite fit in.

I was one of the only ones that was not dressed in a costume/character outfit. I was one of the only non-cosplayers. I came dressed in my normal attire--jeans, flipflops, a nice shirt. Pretty, but definitely "Lana," not any other character.

Then tonight, out of the clear blue, my brother texted me. Philosophy of the day! as we like to call it; sometimes it's Thought of the day or Aha! moment of the day, but today was philosophy of the day--one of the favorite parts of my day, especially coming from folks like Doug. Anyway, without further ado, here's the philosophy of the day:

Once you know who you are, you can be whoever you want to be. Ties in with good cosplay.

Anyone who ever discredits high schoolers, particularly sixteen year olds, as rebels without a cause, kids with no sense, no life experience...well, let's just say you haven't met my brother. I love my brother so much--he provides insight to life and the world when I can't see past the end of my nose. Every time I'm stuck in a rut, it never fails--I can go to Doug and gain a whole new perspective. That might be strange for most brother/sister relationships...but Doug and I are close. We've been through "so much" together--physically, emotionally, and even just in our minds. We're two peas in a pod; he's pretty much the only person in the world that I know will always be there for me--not just because we're family, but because we're best friends.

I started thinking about Doug's philosophy, and you know what, he's completely right. I've always considered myself grounded; I know who I am, what I want, and I know how to get it (for the most part). I work my ass off, and I achieve. And, I do know who I am. However, that's as far as I go--being me. To me, I can only be me, because that's...who I am. (I hope that makes more sense when you read it than it does just typing it.) I am comfortable being me because I know me.

On the other hand, Doug is mature in ways I may never be. I think so many of us are comfortable in being only ourselves--we get wrapped up in this, in our image, in who we are, and we forget we can be different things to different people.

To me, Doug will always be my little brother. Despite the fact he has about a foot on me these days (the kid's gigantic!), he will always be the little brother that I wanted to trade in for a sister, the baby boy whose diaper I learned how to change, the baby boy I'd wake up at 4 am to feed with Dad, the toddler who bit me right on my butt, the preschooler that broke his leg and wouldn't walk on his cast til I showed him how, the kindergartener who knew how to read ahead of his class because he wanted to read the same books as his big sissy, the second grader who played Abraham Lincoln and gave one of the most beautiful renditions of the Gettysburg Address I've ever heard, the fifth grader who played basketball to fit in, the sixth grader who played Elvis in a school musical and nailed it--down to the hip movements and all, the seventh grader who joined Adult Handbells at church so he could spend more time with Mom and me, the 8th grader who soloed in the school musical despite being made fun of, and nailed an acapella solo using falsetto part of the time, the 8th grade valedictorian of his class, who gave a clear speech encouraging his classmates, the 9th grader that started high school with so much pride and joy, who remembered that "A's are great, B's are good, but fun beats them both," the 9th grader who auditioned for and made it into the Madrigal choir and didn't mind shaving his legs so he could wear tights ("We're men, we're men in tights!"), the 10th grader who began voice lessons and became one of the best basses in choir, the 10th grader who started doing stand-up and improv comedy with school, the 10th grader who wants to be a writer, or maybe a cultural anthropologist, the 10th grader who can bring me to tears with his poetry, the rising 11th grader taking a stab at AP classes, the rising 11th grader working his butt off to finish his summer reading...

And most importantly, the 11th grader who has loved me so beautifully for the past 16.5 years, without regard to how crappy of a sister I've been at times. (Is it a bad thing that I'm balling my eyes out right now at all these memories? No, it's not, what are memories for if not to recall such beauty and be amazed yet again?)

And to me, that's who my brother is, that's who my brother has always been. And I realize that he's not that person to everyone...and that everyone has a different experience of Doug. And of you, and me, and everyone in the world--no two people experience the same person in the same way. Even similar people, for example both of my parents, they each experience me differently. And today, seeing Doug (I mean, Marluxia) cosplaying today with his friends--to some of them, he is Marluxia. And he is this person because Doug is one of the few people that truly knows who he is. Therefore, he can be whoever he wants. And, he is.

And it dawned on me in that moment that I can see this in two different ways, and the following is the way I want it to be understood:

I am a person, one singular person, and each person who knows me experiences a different me, but they all experience "Lana." And, this is because I choose to be me. Despite the fact I may choose to act differently in different situations, I generally stick to the same morals and ethics to which I subscribe.
Doug is a person, one singular person, and each person who knows him experiences a different him, but they don't all experience "Doug." And, this is because Doug chooses to be Doug, Marluxia, and a number of other characters.

In short, some people think of cosplaying, hell even acting, as an escape for people who aren't comfortable with themselves, and want to change certain things. However, I challenge you to think of it as this: people who act, people who cosplay, people who are comfortable enough to the point where they will put aside "themselves" and take on another persona entirely--they are not weak or escaping; rather, they are strong. They see what all life has to offer them, and they choose to experience it to the fullest.

I challenge you to step outside the box. Do something that's not "you" for someone, or with someone, or more importantly, for yourself. You'll be surprised at how strong you are. <3

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