090/2024 – “Broken People Can Get Better if They Really Want To”

Lyrics: “Recovery” – Frank Turner, 2013

Thanks to a lovely gig-buddy I had the chance to be at an exclusive, small and thus super cool Frank Turner gig earlier this week. It feels like it’s been too long since I’ve seen him play some songs on a stage in front of me. Almost five months ;-)! I know, I know, I’m a spoilt fangirl of a touring maniac who actually provides me with ample opportunities to see him play on a pretty regular basis. Did I just book four more of his gigs in October / November? Maybe… ? Kidding. Of course I did!

Frank Turner auf der Bühne bei Radio Bob
Frank Turner on stage at Radio Bob

Back to that surprise gig; for the first part of this post anyway. Frank played for about an hour to about 100 people. Half of them won the ticket by telling the radio station why they should be at the gig, e.g. how big / special a fan they were. The other half (like me) were ‘plus ones’. I could have argued my case for being a big fan as well of course, but I hadn’t even entered the lottery, because I thought I couldn’t make the date work. Thus I was especially happy that I was able to tag along . Frank played five of the new songs – the four already released plus “Never Mind The Back Problems” and besides that it was a “Greatest Hits” set, which is always fun. The gig came with a “Meet & Greet” if you want to call it that. Frank was available for autographs, photos and a quick chat afterwards and of course we went to that as well.

Photo of Frank hugging me and of Frank & me side by side after the gig
Happy fangirl…

And that’s it about the gig. The rest of this post will basically just be more insight into the workings of my mind, because this is my online home after all, where it’s all about me, me, me. I’m only sort of kidding. And trust me the following is only a condensed version of what’s been on my mind the past few days. But I thought I’d still share some of it , because I have been more open here about my mental health journey these past few years. And also to document how far I have come in a space that’s easier to find than leafing through tons scribbled on pages in journal, if I ever need the reminder.

I drove home that night with the strange sense that some important things had just revealed themselves to me. Not a big epiphany, more like puzzle pieces sliding into place? And not even in ways of revealing new insights, just the awareness that I have been doing better for a while now. I’m sure having done a round of psychotherapy from April 2022 till August 2023 plays a huge a part in that. 

Half a “fangirl life” away in 2017 I once wrote a post titled “The Many Ways In Which Frank Turner Changed My Life”. I stand by it’s content and intention, though the title makes my cringe now and I’m glad I’ve clarified how it’s meant at the start of my “Ten Years Anniversary” post last summer.

Something I wrote in that post came back to me when I was untangling my thoughts and emotions from Wednesday night: How I sometimes seem to regard this whole fandom experience as some kind of ‘social lab’ for my personal development. In 2017 I wrote:

“Once you feel more confident around the people in a certain social environment (here: Frank Turner audience) it gets easier to talk to the people around you and the easier it gets to talk to people the more confident you become?”

That observation back then stayed true and being around like-minded people definitely helped with gaining some self-confidence and shedding some of the self-doubt and all. But all through these years I was still suffering from a lack of self-confidence paired with a lot of self-doubt and self-loathing which all led to me being worried and anxious a lot. Not just in the fandom context, but basically everywhere. All the time. Story of my life.

But on that night and on the drive back home I’ve been contemplating how and why this gig experience felt different from gigs in earlier years, where I also already had been interacting with others in the crowd around me. With people I knew (sort of well or just superficially) from previous gigs or social media. With people I just met there. Interacting with Frank on stage and afterwards. I’m sure some of the change might have already happened in 2022 when touring came back after the lockdowns or even in 2018/2019 and I just didn’t notice it as clearly back then.

Lets now come back to the “social lab” aspect of my thoughts here. Frank Turner and us being fans of his music is the one variable we have in common when we gather in a room for a gig. Frank being the artist and us being fans of his art are the roles we play in this experiment, if I want to stay with the “social lab” terminology here.We do not interact with each other outside that fandom context and thus there is (and never was!) any other relational layer I need to parse for any hidden meaning. Or to put it more bluntly and more egocentrically – because it is all about me here after all: I do not really need to worry about what those other fans do or say or think. I do not need to worry about if they are the better fans, the cooler fans, the more respected fans. Neither of those things say anything about me outside that fandom context! And because all of this is happening in this limited fandom context neither of those things have any relevance to all the other parts of my life anyway.

This probably only feels revelatory if you have any idea how much time I spent anxiously worrying over tiny stupid stuff when I first started going to gigs and meeting other fans. How much I second-guessed every interaction I ever had with anyone. How much I always believed I had made a fool of myself. How much I believed that surely no one there could like me and that I was merely tolerated in their midst. Don’t get me wrong, I had those self-loathing thoughts in every other context of my life on an regular basis as well. It’s just that now in hindsight it’s easier to examine all those self-destructive thoughts in the limited context of the social lab called fandom. 

I drove home from that gig and noticed that I had felt less emotional about it all. And I wondered – and for a moment also worried, I admit – if that meant that I cared less about it all than I did before. Was feeling a bit detached from it all means I’m losing that fangirl part of myself? On second thought I then realized that no, on the contrary; I’m finally experiencing these kind of things the normal way. Without all the worrying. Without all the self-doubt. Without all the anxious self-loathing. And that feels soooo good!

To be fair it’s not just the whole fandom experience I live through these days with less worrying and less self-doubt. I notice that I feel more self-confident in other aspects of my life as well. Not everywhere all the time, but all in all so much more than for most of my life. It’s just that I not always notice these changes in the hustle and bustle of normal life. So the social lab fandom this week was welcome reminder.

Broken people can get better if they really want to

Any other insight and possible revelation about my thoughts and emotions and how I see the world and my place in it will be confined to the scribbled pages of my journal.

An uncapped fountain pen on an empty page of a dotted page in a journal
Pick up that pen and paper

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