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Post-Convention Insecurities

Me and my princesses :-)I got back from being guest of honor at LosCon late Monday night. It was a busy weekend, but a lot of fun. I did a ton of panels, met some wonderful people, caught up with friends and colleagues I hadn’t seen in a while, signed some books, and ate way too much food. I even got to see a group cosplay of Danielle, Snow, and Talia from my Princess series, which was a definite highlight. (Pics from the weekend are up on Flickr.)

And then on Sunday, after closing ceremonies wrapped up and the convention came to a close, my brain started to pore over every potentially questionable or stupid or not-as-clever-as-I-thought-at-the-time thing I’d said or done for the entire weekend.

This is far from the first time, though it used to be much worse back when I was a) newer to the con scene, b) less successful or secure as an author, and c) not on antidepressants yet. I remember driving home from ConFusion years ago, beating myself up for the whole hour-long drive about a joke I’d bungled during a panel with John Scalzi.

I understand the phenomenon a bit better these days, but it still sucks. Partly, it’s exhaustion. You’re wiped out after the convention, and being tired magnifies all those insecurities. And the fact is, I know I stick my foot in it from time to time. We all do. It’s part of being human.

But I spend conventions trying to be “on.” Trying to be friendly and entertaining and hopefully sound like I know what the heck I’m talking about. Basically, trying to be clever. And I trust most of you are familiar with the failure state of clever?

Sometimes a joke falls flat. Sometimes I say something I thought was smart and insightful, realizing only after the words have left my mouth that it was neither. Sometimes an interaction feels off, like I’ve failed at Human Socializing 101. Or I get argumentative about something. Or I fail to confront something I should have gotten argumentative about. I could go on and on about the possibilities. That’s part of the problem.

The majority of the conversations and panels and interactions were unquestionably positive. But there’s a span when my brain insists on wallowing through the questionable ones, and I keep peeking at Twitter to double-check if anyone has posted that Jim C. Hines was the WORST guest of honor EVER, and should be fired from SF/F immediately.

Then I get home. I see my wife and kids and the beasts. I get some sleep. I shift back into the day-to-day work. After a day or two, my brain mostly settles back to its usual equilibrium. Maybe I follow up with someone about a particular interaction if I’m still worried about it. Maybe I try to just let things go and focus on the positive. (Note: I said try.)

If this all sounds familiar, my sympathies. You’re not alone.

I had a good time at LosCon, and I’m very thankful to the convention for inviting me. To those of you who share my post-convention insecurities, I hope you’re catching up on some sleep and getting past them to be able to focus on all of the awesome and amazing conversations and interactions.

And I’ll wrap this up with a link to a Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic, which was shared by Randy McCall over on Facebook.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
mt_yvr
Dec. 2nd, 2015 06:40 pm (UTC)
Event drop.

I'm not sure how you'll feel about this but frankly it's a known point in my circles, specifically BDSM. After intense emotional expenditures - whether sexual or more mundane like a con - there is a point for aftercare.

Event drop is the revving of an emotional and/or intellectual engine that hits a cliff that is "the end". And there's no easing down, slowing down. Just going from 100 to 0 in a second. A lot of work and conversation/discussion goes on in my circles on methods to do effective aftercare. Time with specific people as an interim step between event and home, for instance.

It's common and very very much something that surprises me to discover people aren't conscious of - not the same as aware. They are often aware of it but not clear on what exactly is going on.

Now that's the psychological kick. It's not to say there isn't a deconstruction after events that we focus on errors, gafs and so on. But. The event drop can be incredibly hazardous as a lensing effect. It distorts the ability to accurately - or as accurately as one is able - gauge things like mistakes or slight "wow, I could've done that better" moments.

You are not alone at all. It's pretty much a thing. ;)
jimhines
Dec. 2nd, 2015 08:56 pm (UTC)
Okay, now I really want someone with experience in both circles to write a post comparing the emotional aftermath of cons and BDSM, as well as effective aftercare...
mt_yvr
Dec. 2nd, 2015 09:27 pm (UTC)
They're the same thing. Just different costumes.

There is something called IML : International Mr Leather (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Mr._Leather) Every year they have an event to which people from all over the world - ALL over the world - come and attend for a few days. It is not a place for the faint of heart, honestly. It can be quite sexual.

But. You have vendors. Talks. Panels. Group events. Get togethers. People dressing up in ways they don't get to at home. Are among like minded people who share the same interests. All in a space that allows them to feel safe.

On paper... which was I discussing? While you've been clear about the problematic nature of cons, the writing of the description in theory is the same. And, yes, there are similar issues with IML.

The general rule of thumb is scale.

If you're new : limit. Be aware it WILL overwhelm. It WILL overload. You need at least one person who is capable of watching to make sure you take time - even 1/2 hour - to get out of the crowds and just breathe. Slow down. Rest.

Diet. Schedule. Keep them. Unless you know yourself really well blowing off a regular sleep cycle will kill you. Because not only are you not resting, you're also running at high capacity WHILE not resting. It FEELS like you're "just" staying up late but you're not.

Limit events outside of panels to people you know. CHECK for references. An actual thing among the people I know... you ask around. People know each other and will tell you "ok, good for you, not good for you." Which isn't the same as bad or good person, but whether or not the match will work out. And still, your choice.

Afterwards have a bridge or airlock day. A day where you are not expected to do anything. The shift in mental gears for the event to your day to day life needs a transition. No matter how much you identify as a fan or a kinkster or even a tombstone salesperson, it is NOT the same as your everyday life. Take a day to get used to the change of pattern that's established with high endorphin rewards at an event. Calm days, slow days. No major decisions if possible, just rest and relax. Often there's the suggestion to actually keep the minimum of references to the event down so they high doesn't keep going as long.

The biggest thing is not a technique or habit. It's a perception.

These events, con or otherwise, are once. Even for some one like yourself, they're not every day. The allure is the joy of being ALL THE THINGS for a day or two. Everything you see, do, interact with is whatever it is you are there for. Fan or otherwise. It's an unreality. It's a moment of established fantasy. "How it would be if the world worked how I want it to".

The HARD part of this is to incorporate not only the limited time factor, but also that it's not actually all that fantastic. It's only fantastic because it overwhelms. Because it's duration. You travel to Paris and love it, most awesome city in the world. But when you move there suddenly there's garbage on the streets, was that aways there, and beggars, I don't remember them, and the service at that one restaurant is horrible, but they loved me last time.

mt_yvr
Dec. 2nd, 2015 09:27 pm (UTC)
This dissonance starts to reinforce itself when we love the object of the event so much we want it to not only be perfect, but it's potential be perfect as well. Only. Reality is a pain. So we drop. We hit the cliff of not being in it and it reinforces that lurch in the system by the intrusion of the real bits to the event. The moment we said something stupid. Where we didn't say hi to some one we meant to. Where we wore the wrong thing. Did the thing.

And this perfect thing we want to hold on to forever and ever, the event and how it made us feel, crumbles. And we set up the binary state of it WAS perfect or it was shit.

For some of us we shift it to: we were shit.

And we drop some more.

Manage the expectation. Enjoy what is. Let what isn't go. In light of many many entries on harassment I am personally bound to point out that I am NOT talking about harassment when I say "what isn't". THAT is a whole other thing. But I've been uncomfortable without clarifying that.

(shrug)

Among many of the people in the leather community there has been a seriousness invested into the whole experience of leather. Among others, myself included, there is a counter. "It's ALL drag, honey."

One or the other, it's all an event.

Edited at 2015-12-02 09:34 pm (UTC)
cypherindigo
Dec. 2nd, 2015 07:27 pm (UTC)
You are not alone. I do it constantly, when I am not in my acknowledged "safe places" (my office at work, with my office-mates).
chris_gerrib
Dec. 2nd, 2015 07:57 pm (UTC)
Sometimes a joke falls flat. Sometimes I say something I thought was smart and insightful, realizing only after the words have left my mouth that it was neither. Sometimes an interaction feels off, like I’ve failed at Human Socializing 101. Or I get argumentative about something. Or I fail to confront something I should have gotten argumentative about. I could go on and on about the possibilities.

Happens to me all the time. Welcome to the club - drinks are in the fridge - help yourself ;-)
mount_oregano
Dec. 2nd, 2015 10:23 pm (UTC)
I do it. I suspect everyone does. At least, that's what I tell myself, and then I try to learn what I can and move on. I'm very good at distracting myself.
j_cheney
Dec. 3rd, 2015 02:02 pm (UTC)
"This is far from the first time, though it used to be much worse back when I was a) newer to the con scene, b) less successful or secure as an author,"

I think I'm still in this phase, because I worry about this way too much!
jimhines
Dec. 3rd, 2015 06:38 pm (UTC)
It's all relative, but the very first conventions were the worst. In part because I was so overwhelmed and didn't know what I was doing, nor did I really know anybody. Ugh.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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