I’ve just been reading Kameron Hurley’s blog post Nobody’s Normal: Introversion and the Writing Life, and while I’m not a writer, or a public speaker, I can’t help identifying with a lot of what’s said there. I wrote here about my social anxiety about a year ago, and nothing much has changed.
Hurley talks about the anxiety that comes in anticipation of a public event, a reading, a panel, and how treating it like a performance helps her not feel it during the event. That too is familiar: not the performance part, but the anticipation, the anxiety that comes before an unfamiliar event or meeting with unknown people. I’ve learned that my anxiety stops in the moment, it ends once I’m doing the thing, but getting past that anticipation to the point of doing is the problem. Even knowing I’ll be fine once I start, it’s easy to scare myself out of things.
Loncon3 is just over a week away. My first big convention, on my own among unfamiliar people. I haven’t felt much real anxiety about this. It will most likely come much closer to the event – in my hotel room before going down to registration, perhaps, and before events like the Welcome Party where I know I’ll have to interact with people. And I wonder how I’ll respond to it. Will I be fine, get through it and get on with it; or will I, as I’ve suggested before, cope in a way that’s pretty common for me: by keeping to myself entirely and avoiding interaction.
I can easily imagine myself spending the entire convention going from panel to panel and wandering about the convention halls without stopping to speak to anyone. I’ve had years and years to get good at that. It’s not that I want to spend the con that way – just that it’s easier, and it’s a behaviour I can’t always work out how to break out of.
I will be trying.
I worry that I’m being repetitive when I keep talking about these issues here and on Twitter. It feels like I keep saying the same thing, and nothing actually changes. I don’t know how next week will go; it’s entirely new. I hope it will be good.