If you've been on the Internet for more than three seconds, then you've definitely seen Felicia Day before.
Maybe you remember her best from her guest appearances on "Supernatural" and "Buffy The Vampire Slayer." Maybe you're a fan of her groundbreaking web series "The Guild," or her nerd-tastic YouTube channel "Geek & Sundry." Or maybe -- just maybe -- you really like flirting with Tallis the elf, her character from "Dragon Age: Redemption" and the "Dragon Age 2" expansion content, to make your main squeeze Fenris totally jealous. (Wait, is that last one just me?)
Starting tomorrow (August 11), you're also going to see Felicia Day all over your local bookstore when her memoir, "You're Never Weird On The Internet (Almost)," hits shelves nationwide. And as the title would suggest, Day is a staunch supporter of the web for its ability to bring people together and help them explore their interests, no matter how obscure or strange.
"If you have a passion for something and feel like an outsider, the great thing about the internet is that, no matter what you’re into, you can feel like an insider," Day told MTV News over the phone. "I was homeschooled in kind of a bubble, so socially that led to some things that are challenging for me even to this day, but at the end of the day I was able to foster my love of things that weren’t considered gender appropriate, like math and video games and comics and fantasy novels and noir films... I wasn’t censored and had no peer pressure to dissuade me from things that ultimately have led to the perfect career."
But while Day's career trajectory features the kind of success that so many of her fellow nerds dream of -- I mean, who doesn't want to get paid to play board games with Wil Wheaton or fight demons alongside the Winchester brothers? -- she's also struggled heavily with the fear of being a failure, which is something both geeks and non-geeks alike can certainly understand.
"I think that there’s a lot of pressure on all of us to succeed and please people in external ways, and especially when we’re girls, there are certain ways we are raised to think of ourselves as successes," Day said. "A lot of those things have to do with our external appearance, which isn’t actually in our control normally, and being liked, which also isn’t necessarily in our control. So if you’re always looking externally and outwardly for approval and feeling good about yourself, it’s hard to find a sense of being able to weather the ups and downs of life."
"We don’t really talk about the problems you encounter when you’re a success just as much as when you’re a failure," she added. "And not to complain about success, but we always have this rosy idea that if we get somewhere and succeed, we'll earn that thing that we think will heal our lives and make us happy, but we don’t actually find that."
A former violin prodigy who entered college at the age of 16 and walked away with a perfect 4.0 GPA, Day was always a bit of an overachiever before she became successful on the Internet. But as she told MTV News, "Anxiety is something I didn’t even know ruled my life until I started to examine myself more effectively. Being able to separate the body from the mind, and not get involved in that idea of panic or sense of overwhelming failure, has really had a positive impact in my life."
Before she reached that epiphany, however, things had already gotten pretty bad -- to the point where she'd suffer massive panic attacks before going out on stage to talk to her fans at comic conventions and other nerdy events. In other words, she was suffering pretty heavily from what some psychologists call "The Imposter Syndrome."
"I felt like a fraud and that I was taking advantage of people, and that I’m not worthy of actually being applauded or listened to. Who am I to talk about myself?" she said. "And of course, taking on a memoir and talking about yourself for a whole book is a pretty bold step. But actually, always thinking constantly about, 'Is this useful to someone? Is this going to help someone either laugh, pick up something they never thought they would enjoy or celebrate something they love where they felt too shy before, or even pick up a pen and create from scratch?' Just thinking about things in that way, to be useful to other people, was a big motivator in getting me through those times that I had self-doubt."
Felicia Day also has a message for all the aspiring geeks who want to create something cool of their very own: basically, f--k the haters.
"If you’re out of the box in any way, people will knowingly or unknowingly impose a lot of borders around you in the way you should behave and what you should aspire to in life," she said. "I’m all about standing up and saying, 'Here I am, this is who I am, I’m not going away and you’re mistaken to think that I shouldn’t be doing this.' It’s hopefully just [about] standing up and being present in enough people’s minds that they stop boxing other people in and focus on their own achievements."
Of course, it doesn't hurt to have some fun escapist hobbies to indulge in.
"I’m a sucker for the love triangle," Day confessed. "I actually have a book club called Vaginal Fantasy where we read one genre romance novel a month and just celebrate liking them. So whenever you have a vampire who’s broody or an alien who’s a little bit broody and maybe a normal guy and a girl, I’m sorry, I really love them."
Don't apologize, Felicia. We do too.