[Image description: A photograph of a manatee, taken above water. The manatee is resting their grey head on the edge of a pool, with one flipper up as well. TEXT: “You are strong, but that doesn’t mean you have to fight alone. Please ask for help if you need it, or a hug, or a cup of tea. Or just ask for someone to be by your side.”]

[Photo credit. Read this, it’s great.]

I think a lot of people think that to be strong, you have to be completely independent and never show weakness and fight all of your battles by yourself. And that’s not true. Even the strongest people have others to lean on. Friends to hug, parents to make them dinner, and acquaintances to wish them a good day.

It’s okay to ask for help, or to ask someone to give you a big hug because you feel so much weight on your shoulders you need someone to share the load. That’s all okay. You are important, and loved. 

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In about a week, many of the people on my dash will be heading to Otakon. Some of them will probably still be working on cosplay. This is inevitable - Even among my most well-planning friends, someone misjudges time or has a late addition to their cosplay lineup, and they end up stressed out and unable to enjoy the convention. 

Please, take care of yourself.

You are more important than a costume.

Even if you’re working 12 hours a day trying desperately to finish your costumes and props, you can still manage your stress. It’ll help you be more productive, you’ll get things done faster, and it will make cosplay crunch week a little more bearable.

Things you can do:

  • Take five minutes away from working. Do it often. It’s well-documented that people work better, more productively if they take breaks. (IMO don’t go on tumblr. It won’t let you relax. Go for a walk, find a quiet place, wash the dishes, listen to some rain, do something to clear your mind.)
  • Make sure you’re eating. It’s easy to forget. Get a snack.
  • Take a few minutes right now and make a to-do list. Write down everything that you want to get done. Estimate how long it’ll take, and double that time if you’re bad at estimating. Too little time to get it done? Pick what’s most important, make it your first priority. Don’t be painting buttons if you haven’t finished the coat.
  • Try to be aware of why you’re stressed out. Too many costumes? Not making a decision? People being unhelpful? Figure out what to do instead of letting the stress build up.
  • Ask around for help. Keep in mind they might be as busy as you are. But don’t be afraid to say you need help.
  • You can wear a costume that isn’t finished. You can wear a costume that isn’t perfect. Honestly, people probably won’t notice. If they do, they’re just curious, or elitist assholes you shouldn’t listen to.
  • It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to say you don’t have time. It’s okay to drop a costume. They will understand.
  • That being said - Remember to apologize. Don’t get angry. You got into this because you wanted to do something fun or worthwhile. Mistakes happen. Time is hard to judge. Few people do bad things intentionally.
  • Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths. REAL deep breaths. Listen to your heart beat. It will be okay.

If you’re reading this and shaking your head because you don’t have the time for this bullshit, STOP RIGHT NOW AND TAKE A BREAK. 

YOU ARE IMPORTANT. YOUR HEALTH IS IMPORTANT.

YOU ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN A COSTUME.

Remember: There will ALWAYS be another convention, but each moment you take being stressed and unhappy is another moment you could be enjoying yourself or doing something fun. I know there’s huge social pressure to do more costumes, more elaborate costumes, get that costume done before the fad dies out.

Fuck the people pressuring others to go beyond their health. They aren’t you - You don’t have to follow their ridiculous ideals.

You matter. If cosplay is your hobby, you have no responsibility to continue working if you’re hating your life. If you signed on to a group and you’re afraid you’ll disappoint them - Tell them now you’re not sure if you’ll finish. Knowing that you can’t do it a week before is better than the day before. Sad you’ll miss a photoshoot? Ask if you can reschedule, ask if the photographer will be free for the next convention, or even the week after this one. Most photographers are booked solid for Otakon - they might actually appreciate doing a photoshoot in another time and place. Life continues after a convention.

You’ve taken responsibility in promising a costume, but you have just as much responsibility to yourself. Find someone else who can do the character. Bust out an old costume and see if anyone wants to do a last-minute group for fun. Offer what you can, within your means.

Do the costume next time and do it a hundred times better than you could this time around.