Since I’m leaving for San Diego Comic-Con very soon, it occurred to me to address something that I experience every time I go to a convention: social anxiety.
I’m fine when I’m sitting at my table and interacting with people coming up and chatting. In fact, I love it. Small talk, comics talk, movie and TV talk, sports talk…I’ll talk your ear off. But take me away from that comfort zone, and I clam up.
I suck at networking.
That’s it; the bottom line. If I have to seek someone out, I invariably worry about if they’ll remember me (if I’ve met them before), if I’m blethering on too long or too much, if they’re looking for an escape route…pretty much just worried that I’m imposing on their time.
So I end up feeling like Paul Schaffer as Artie Fufkin in This Is Spinal Tap.
“Hi. Steve Bryant, Athena Voltaire.” [shakes hand]
This even extends to seeing someone I’ve met before away from the convention (for instance, I think I’ve run into comic artist Skottie Young about a half-dozen times and just looked away…and there are a bunch more examples, too)—all because I don’t know what to say, or am afraid of imposing on someone’s time, or because I’m afraid of being embarrassed if someone doesn’t remember who I am.
So that’s it; my deep dark convention secret. I’m going to try and come out of my shell a bit more, and interact more this year…but I say that every year. We’ll see if it happens …