By Jaymie Ramphal
Being a fangirl can be quite embarrassing. Has being a fangirl helped shape who you are?
Some people have a specific, inspirational moment where they realize their lifelong passion. My awe-inspiring moment in which I discovered my dream was neither of those. Actually, it was quite embarrassing. The kind of embarrassment that makes you so utterly humiliated that you fear that people would isolate you during lunchtime at school. Here lies the mortifying secret that defines me: I used to write wrestling fan fiction.
During the summer of 2015, my love for WWE was at its peak. I watched half-naked men and women throw their bodies around for at least 12 hours a day. I would say, “It’s not fake! It’s choreographed,” to people on a daily basis. As a wrestling fan, you tend to ignore the terrible storylines that these wrestlers have to work with. Storylines so poorly written that you would literally see teen dramas on there. But boy, these wrestling storylines got very real. So real to the point where, to satisfy my need for more, my 13-year-old self would write fan fiction, stories written by fans of different “fandoms.” Writing or reading fan fiction makes you weird. People think that you are a weirdly obsessed preteen that can’t tell between fact and fiction—and that was middle school me.
I logged onto Wattpad, a fan fiction archive, one day and haven’t logged out since. I would sit on my bed with my laptop screen beaming in front of me and browse through the iconic fan fiction websites: AO3, FanFiction.net, Wattpad, and even Quotev. But if you know anything about wrestling fan fiction, you know that the stories out there are absolutely horrendous. There are tons of grammatical mistakes, unrealistic dialogue, and terrible spelling. I searched every last page of every website and never found a single good story. Instead, all of them were unbearably cringey. So I had to create my own. I can recall watching a clip from a WWE live show where two of my favorite wrestlers, Finn Bálor and Bayley, re-enacted the dance from the movie Dirty Dancing. You know the scene that every little girl wanted to be in? The one in which Baby was lifted in the air by Johnny. That was all I needed to make my hit story and my first story ever.
Deep in my drafts of Wattpad, I would write several stories that involved those two wrestlers. I had all of the fan fiction tropes for them: enemies to lovers, alternate universes, and hurt/comfort. I would publish them on Wattpad, very proud that there was some good fan fiction out there and it was written by me.
But alas, shame quickly took over my brain. Once I realized what exactly I was doing, it made me think about what other people would say. What would happen if people in my school found out? I began to feel self-conscious about my passion. Wrestling was still something new to me, and people weren’t very accepting of that either. Now imagine combining two things that had a weird reputation with judgmental preteens. So yes, I was so anxious about people finding out and making fun of me. Thus, my fan fiction days began to slowly dissipate. I still read fan fiction, but I wrote less and less of it. I stuck this part of my life in the furthest part of my brain and didn’t think of it again.
As I began to apply to colleges, I was dumbstruck about my future. All this pressure hung over my shoulders like an anchor. I just couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do with my life, like all teens right now. But the answer has been in front of me all along. Um, hello! The only constant in my life has been writing. Recalling my passion for writing, I was able to pinpoint when I developed my strong writing skills. I realized that I had nothing to be ashamed of because this had helped me in such a tremendous way.
Writing fan fiction allowed me to exercise my writing skills, and it was something I genuinely enjoyed at the time. When I would publish my stories, I would have such supportive comments and people who were waiting for the next chapter. I can think back to when my favorite fan fiction stories were deleted, and I would be devastated. Now imagine the readers I had, maybe they were devastated that I unpublished my work, too. I wish I had the confidence to continue writing. I wish I had had this sudden epiphany that I should not have been ashamed years ago because the possibility of what could have happened if I had continued would have been great. But as I jump into my new beginnings, I will not allow this to happen again.
Despite how embarrassing my story is, it’s still mine. I could tell this story 100 times and cringe but ultimately, it is me. In the back of my mind, I will remember my fan fiction phase. Actually, it has never been a phase. I am a writer and I’ll never stop writing.
While drafting this essay, there were a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes writing was easy, but sometimes it was hard. Right away, I knew exactly what I should write about, but I didn’t know where to start. Also, I wasn’t sure if I was comfortable with sharing this personal story. However, meeting with my mentor helped me tremendously. She taught me how to structure my essay and how to overcome writer’s block. She never judged me and always encouraged me through each part of my essay. Whatever obstacle I was stuck on, she offered me assistance in the best way possible.
Jaymie loves animation, pop culture, music, exploring the arts and creative expression. Jaymie also loves to read fan fiction and socialize, but also can be introverted. Jaymie is an honor roll student whose art has been showcased in Manhattan—both an observational drawing of shapes and an abstract painting of a butterfly. Jaymie’s favorite form of expression is clothing.