Fandom changed my life. I have no doubt about that. It's not even a small thing. I'm nearly positive that my life would be completely different if I had never discovered Buffy in 2001.
At the time I discovered Buffy, I was living in the UK, newly pregnant with Alex. I discovered fanfic existed the fall of 2001, just before season six was set to start in the US, and that's what sucked me in. While my degree was in a creative field, and I'd spent some time editing, most of my professional life had been doing production management of sorts. I yearned to be creative, but it really wasn't that practical. Writing fanfic gave me an outlet I hadn't had in a long time. When I was stuck at home with two toddlers, not working for the first time in my adult life, in a different country, it pretty much saved me from my brains leaking out my ears.
Fanfic is what got me into writing original prose, which is what shaped the last ten years of my life. It's allowed me to work from home so that I could be here for my kids. It's what introduced me to a whole plethora of people who have become important to me. If I hadn't started writing original fiction, in all likelihood, I would've found some sort of management job once Alex started kindergarten, or something part-time in QA. I might've found creative outlets by going back to acting when we returned to the US, but that's a big if.
If I hadn't started writing fanfic, I might've even gone back to school to get another degree. I still think about that, actually. Then I think I don't have the patience for it, but who knows.
Without Buffy and Spike, I'd likely not would've been able to spend as much time with my kids as I did. For that alone, I wouldn't change a thing.