When I began college, I was going through a rough time – definitely the darkest time in my life up to that point. I felt broken, alone, and forgotten, but I hid it and pretended to be fine. It was dangerous and destructive. It was while I was going through this that I discovered Doctor Who. It was 2013, and Eleven was meeting Clara Oswald for the third time. I immediately fell in love. I was able to relate to this broken man who hid his self hatred behind a goofy fez, and I suddenly felt a little bit less alone.
Three years later, I went through another rough patch, where I felt even more alone and depressed than before. This time, the TARDIS dropped me off in Pawnee, Indiana, where I immersed myself in stories about the crazy townspeople to avoid my real-life pain. Ben Wyatt was my friend when I felt like no one else was. Leslie Knope accepted me when no one else would. It sounds crazy but, like Doctor Who in 2013, Parks and Recreation helped me get through a difficult time.
And that’s the point of fiction, isn’t it? It’s magical new worlds – some realistic, like Pawnee, some fantastical, like Middle Earth – that help us get away from our own struggles for a little bit, or characters who are so brilliant, so inspiring, so flawed that they remind us that we are not alone. That we are not the only ones feeling the emotions we feel. And I believe that is so important right now. No matter what side of the political argument you’re on, it’s obvious that we are a divided, terrified people. Obviously, it’s important to actually engage in politics and stand up for what we believe in, BUT it is also important that we have an escape, to help us get through the dark stuff. We need the Doctor to remind us that heroes don’t always carry guns and swords. We need Leslie, Ann, Ben, Ron, and Lil’ Sebastian to remind us that people are inherently good. We need Frodo and The Fellowship to remind us that we are not alone. We need fandom to remind us that we’re human.