So, hands up who ever would have thought that Felicia Day has absolutely crippling social anxiety? No hands? I didn’t know either, but I’m actually kinda of glad.
No, no, hear me out – I’m not wishing any form of mental illness on anyone, or glorifying anxiety in an attempt to make myself feel better. I’m just saying that holy crap, Felicia Day is a fucking superstar, and so talented and if she can do everything she’s done with the levels of anxiety and depression she talks about in the book, then I can do ANYTHING.
Like, actually anything.
So the book chronicles her life, from growing up in the deep, then deeper south where she was homeschooled with her brother. She talks about how unconventional her education was, not just in a ‘I didn’t go to regular school’ kind of way, but also in a ‘my study was partially unsupervised and wholly unstructured’ kind of way. She learned a lot about what interested her (or what interested her family) and not so much about some other stuff (which it turns out is not important anyway). If she was 12 now, it would be called unschooling and she would be a TEDtalk superstar, but when she was growing up it was just kinda weird.
After four years at college as a violin prodigy (hands up who knew Felicia Day was REALLY good at violin? nope, me neither), Felicia heads over to LA and stars in things like Buffy, Dollhouse, House and this (hehehe, so adorable). Then she kinda becomes this massive youtube star with shows like The Guild and Dr Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (I’ll admit to having heard of both of these, but have never seen the whole lot).
So having established all this, Felicia then gets into some super tough stuff. She talks about gaming addiction and social anxiety, about general depression, anxiety and suicide idealisation and about #gamergate, doxxing and the effect the movement had on her personally. I am not a gamer, so it was really interesting to hear an explanation of gamergate from someone who was a woman and a gamer*. What impressed me most about the story is that Felicia hasn’t actually conquered her perfectionism or her anxiety – she deals with it and gets help with it, but this isn’t a ‘how I beat depression and won the world’ tale. It’s actually a ‘I have bad depression and I’m winning the world anyway’ tale.
This is my biggest wish for people who read this: that you realise that despite any mental or physical health issues, despite lack of a conventional education or a trust fund or a perfect face**, despite where you right now, if you keep going and have the drive to get to where you want, anything is possible.
There are two things I didn’t like about the book. Firstly, it’s formulaic, with each chapter seemingly following the same template and everyone knows I hate that way of writing. Secondly, rather than feeling like a natural conversation (which I imagine was the point) the book reads like someone tried REALLY hard to make it seem like a natural conversation and you can sense the desperation to convey that voice. I’m too picky, I realise this.
On the whole, I enjoyed the book – it’s not easy reading at times, but it is still easy to read (ok, now I’ve just stopped making sense altogether) and I would totally recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed Felicia’s work or who is interested in behind the scenes stuff around acting or gaming. She’s funny and cute and exceptionally talented.
*If you never heard about the gamergate saga, I suggest you read the book before you google your little heart out. The vitriol you can read by typing “gamergate” into a search engine is actually horrifying.
**Personally, I think Felicia’s face is pretty damn close to perfect, but that’s definitely not the point here.