I’m gearing up for my first convention of 2016 this week, (it’s the Houston Author Bash in Katy Tx). On one hand it seems like forever since I’ve done this sort of thing, but on the other, it feels very old hat. I do anywhere from 5-7 conventions a year and so while I have lots of experience, somehow each time begins to feel like the first time. It’s pre-con anxiety. I get it before any public appearance, but even more so for the long distance events. Funny enough, I used to have a paralyzing fear of public speaking. I think that can be the case for many creative types, as so often we wind up sort of trapped inside our own heads. I’m an especially odd case because I’m an extrovert, only with pretty serious anxiety. Which means for me, these events are both the best and worst parts of my job.
What’s it like to be an extrovert with anxiety? Well, it’s sort of like really wanting to go to a concert. You get jazzed up, buy your tickets, stand in line, only to realize as you stand at the door that you can’t possibly go inside. What if it’s awful? What if you get mugged? What if the fireworks explode early and everyone dies in a blazing fireball? These thoughts, as silly as they may seem, somehow manage to feel like VALID concerns and perfectly acceptable reasons to turn around and just go home and hide under the covers.
That’s what happens to me. Only the voices sound more like, What if no one shows up? Or what if a BUNCH of people show up and they just ignore you? What if you forget your pens/books/swag? What if you get lost or your plane breaks down or accidentally eat mushrooms and go into anaphylactic shock? Or worse, what if you get there and everyone knows you are a NOBODY and a FRAUD and they boo you off the stage?
Those are my voices. They tell me I can’t. they tell me I shouldn’t.
And sometimes, it’s hard to ignore them.
But as my dear friend June always reminds me, once I get INTO the event, I’m fine. Truly. I blossom like a rose under pressure. Suddenly I go from weird, awkward necrotic loser to well spoken social butterfly. Most people I meet at events would never know I suffer with anxiety. I am able to feed of the energy of those around me and I always end up having a great time. But, that never stops that pesky voice from butting in, playing doubts and fears in my brain on repeat. So today I decided to help combat those voices by looking back on some of last year’s events. Now, I did a LOT of traveling and a lot of events, but I wanted to share just a few memories from my favorites. I’m hoping they help me in my ongoing battle and I hope, if any of you suffer with similar issues, maybe it will help to simply know that you aren’t alone. I know that having people in my corner, cheering me on, helps me immensely. So, today, I want to be that for you.
No matter what your voices say, I believe in you. You can do it. You will do it. And you will rock it!