Cosplay stress is one of those things that seems kind of stupid. Why are we stressing over something that should be a fun, creative hobby – something that should be us letting our minds and hands roam free and creating beautiful things from weird materials.?
But it IS a thing. I have tried it a few times on my own body, and really, it’s not good for you. Well, or me, but here I am, trying to give some advice so hopefully others would be able to stay free of this bad state of mind.
How do we end up getting stressed? I think all cosplayers know the answer to that: You found your dream cosplay, con is 2 months away, and it seems like oceans of time – no problem, right?
Except, you never worked with X material before. Or Y item hasn’t even been shipped and it should’ve been here last week. Suddenly, 2 months is 2 weeks and nothing is completed. The nightmares start rolling in… You’re on stage in your cosplay, everyone’s laughing, you look down… And realize you didn’t finish your cosplay and you’re naked! And then wake up and realize it was a dream, which results in not sleeping, because you think about the things you need to finish!
In my case, it goes even further. I sit at work, and instead of focusing on my tasks at hand, I find myself listing in my head the things I need to finish. I get heat strokes all of a sudden. I leave house chores undone. I neglect the people who matter to me.
Years ago, when I was just getting into cosplay, I promised myself I wouldn’t be one of those people pushing out a cosplay a month and stressing over deadlines. Enter Ysera and the convention Genki. I wanted to finish that cosplay so bad. I would get up at 5 in the morning to work on it before work, and work well until midnight to finish it. This was for several days. I drank unhealthy amounts of energy drink and took caffeine pills to make it through the day.
Few days before the con, a major piece broke and needed to be redone. I was in tears. I realized it was stupid – I had lived unhealthy, I had become mentally unstable. Just to finish a costume. Once again, I told myself not to do that. And I’ve done it twice just in the past half year.
So today – less than 2 weeks from my next con and with 3 half-finished cosplays needed for said con – I decided to write down my thoughts on this topic.
What can we do to avoid this? Mostly me, but my self-exploration might help others in my situation, too.
First things first: Realistic deadlines. You’re not gonna make a huge-ass armor in 2 months if you NEVER worked with any of the materials you’re working with and you have no experience with armor building. Maybe you’re some amazing prodigy, but don’t count on it. You’ll feel overwhelmed and give up.
Ok – so you put 6 months for your armor. Seems reasonable. So now I can take my time, play games, watch tv, teach my cat to knit etc. etc… Ah, f**k, con is in 2 months and I didn’t do anything!
Next point: Make a plan for your time. Maybe 6 months seem like a long time, but if you do 10% of the work the first 5 months and 90% in the last month, you’re still going to stress. Again – experience. Plan our the parts of your cosplay. Split it into elements and make small deadlines for these. For example: “For next month, I will finish the shoulders”. Adjust as you go along – if you constantly fail finishing in time for your mini-deadlines, push the big deadline further.
And a note to this: If you have a cosplay page on Facebook, avoid putting up “For this con, I will wear that!!!” before you’ve even started on your costume. It seems stupid, because no one really cares if you finish your cosplay except you (unless you’re super famous, but let’s face it: Most of us aren’t!), but the thought that you’re “letting people down” is also a stress factor that makes you (and me) push ourselves way more than we should to finish for that specific con. Instead, wait until your cosplay is done (or almost done) and THEN announce that you’ll debut it at this or that con. It’s still gonna be awesome! And besides, it makes more sense to announce your cosplay a week or two before the con than months before when it seems far away for everyone.
Speaking of “group pressure” brings me to my last big point: My last two cases of “cosplay stress” were largely due to the fact that I was in a group. The first one was Ysera and Nozdormu. We decided late to make this group with 7 dragons, two of which were me and my boyfriend. Since he isn’t a crafter, it fell on me to do 90% of the work on his cosplay PLUS my own. Yeah, in two months. I pushed myself, because I didn’t want to be the one who let down the rest of the group. I hate feeling like I am unreliable and unable to keep up a promise. Stupidly, shortly after that ordeal, I agreed on another group cosplay in which I was doing 2 cosplays and planning and supervising all the work on the third. Needless to say, I stressed again. Or am stressing – this is where I am at now. 9 days to go, costumes about 60% done. I am stubborn and I will make it, but this will be an expensive lesson to learn.
If you’re crafting with a group of people, agree that if one person can’t finish on time, he or she won’t be blamed. Or alternatively, the rest of the group will and can help you out. Make sure you all understand that health – mental and physical – comes first, always! And that one person not finishing isn’t the end of the world!
Bonus info: If you rush your cosplay, you’re bound to make more mistakes, which will make the cosplay more expensive! So taking your time will save you money, too!