If you are a hardcore fan of Star Wars or any other franchise, series, or genre, then often times your self-identity is tied up with your fandom. If you have a balanced life, your fandom is only a portion of your identity, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a central part of how you view yourself and how you present yourself to the outside world.
As a fan you put in effort and you see a return. You take the steps to find content or collectibles, you attend parties, conventions and store events, you search out like-minded friends, you create costumes or crafts that tangibly show your love for your fandom, and you find others to share your fandom and happiness with. In return you get the emotional rewards of a story well told, the rush of the hunt for the item you were looking for, the joy your costume brings to a little kid, or that singular moment that you will remember forever with some pivotal figure in your fandom.
You may like many of us build a network of friendships and take a more active role in fandom by becoming a content creator by writing, podcasting, or on platforms like YouTube.
You may find that what began as a fun outlet for you begins to feel more like work (and unpaid work at that), you may not like a particular direction that the subject of your fandom is taking (either among the fan community or the creative content), or you may simply wake up one day and not feel the same passion for it that you had before.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s OK to walk away.
I have been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember, but I have also taken steps back from fandom at multiple points in my life. In high school I kept it secret and minimized it to try to be cool and in college my attention shifted to other interests, but all that changed in 2004.
The summer of 2004 was the reigniting of my fandom. Newly arrived in San Diego, I didn’t know anyone and hadn’t been plugged into Star Wars in any major way for years aside from watching the films. Then one day I stopped in a Salvation Army store and stumbled across a used paperback copy of Vector Prime. I had dropped off before the end of the Bantam era of Star Wars novel publishing, so I was a bit confused as the novel began, trying to figure out who some of the characters were and what exactly had happened in the galaxy while I had been away. Much like Luke reawakened the good man within his father, Vector Prime reawakened my passion for Star Wars. I bought and read the novels of the New Jedi Order at a voracious pace and then began purchasing copies of Star Wars books of my youth as well as older novels that I missed along the way.
My passion caused me to become more active online, on social media as well as starting my own Web site. The passion continued to spread joining message boards, contributing to other sites, making contact with publishers like Del Rey to obtain review copies of books in advance.
Then a point came while my passion for the franchise didn’t falter, my passion for my role as a fan did. So I cut back on my involvement, wound down my Web site work and took a step back to reevaluate what I was putting in and what I was getting out of fandom. The good news for me was that I had seen a real flourishing of the fan community, peers excelling in different media and creating content that I enjoyed consuming and often thought was better than what I might produce.
Eventually I reengaged thanks to a very cool fellow fan and we started “Rebels Report”. Then last year changes in life and family made me reevaluate and take a rather sudden step back. I stayed active on Twitter and kept up on my podcast listening, but otherwise I once again took a step back from fandom.
Over the past few months I have felt the embers of my fandom spark once again. On the heels of The Force Awakens, what we have seen of Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One combined with the new written storytelling, and the re-incorporation of Grand Admiral into the canon universe has my hyperdrive motivator back on-line.
If you need for whatever reason to take a step back from fandom and let it lie fallow for a time, the good news is that your fellow fans will welcome you back if you decide to return. Not even the great hero of the Rebellion Han Solo hung around for the entire Battle of Yavin, but he did return with gusto. So if you gotta leave, I hope you end up coming back. After all, you wouldn’t want me to get all the credit and take all the rewards, now would you?