I am a mess. Really quite badly fucked up.

I’ve just come back from the 2016 DiscWorld Convention. It’s one of the biggest and friendliest fan conventions in the country, and is held in DW-fandom to be a wonderful and awesome place to be. And it is – the people there are friendly, enthusiastic, inclusive, intelligent, and we all share a love of the late Sir Terry Pratchett’s work, which I have been reading avidly since I was about 15.

So why do I feel like shit?

It’s not the normal post-convention blues: You go to the Con, you have fun, you meet loads of old friends, you do enjoyable things, go to interesting programme items, and for four days you’re in a tight-knit friendly community where pretty much everyone is practically guaranteed to share your interests; so when you go home, you feel sad that it’s over, you miss the people you met and probably won’t meet again for another two years, you miss the place.

Me? I want to bury myself underground and never come out again until people forget about ever meeting me.

Did I do anything that didn’t piss someone off? Did I insult everyone there, or just the people I talked to? How is it anyone still likes me after they met me? I don’t fit in – I really don’t fit in. I don’t talk to people, I certainly don’t start conversations (and if I do I get out of them ASAP). I need alcohol to be even vaguely sociable, but I don’t like the taste and it gets me depressed way too quickly to be any use with assisting confidence. I look back over the weekend, and whatever springs to mind only screams a checklist of how to be a douchebag. I’m annoying, arrogant, crass, emotionally and socially ignorant, insensitive, jealous, lazy, lecherous, manipulative, oblivious, selfish, uncouth, whiny…  Did I really think I could rock up and sweep in with a few lame ideas and make things even more awesome? I’m a hanger-on, a follower, a third-stringer, and not a particularly original one either.

I came home on Tuesday. I’ve been feeling like this since Wednesday afternoon. Yesterday, I had to go shopping, and it was so bad I nearly broke down in tears when someone else got in the lift on the way back.

Someone got in the same lift as me, and I nearly had a nervous breakdown. Clearly, something is wrong. And it’s probably more than just four days-worth of social anxiety backlog.

Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve freaked out somewhat over being at a convention (Friday night of the ’06 Con, for instance), or felt depressed during one (Monday, ’12), or even afterwards (IDWCon ’09 or Eastercon ’10). And, intellectually, I know it can’t be as bad as I’ve been making it out to be. I mean, I enjoyed the Hedgehog Party, and so did a lot of other people. That’s not an assumption, that’s a verifiable fact, because nearly a dozen people told me they did. There was the Dead Monkey Party (most of it), the various combat-y items, the singing bits, and, hey, I even managed to hang out with a couple of friends for a couple of hours.

Friends. My closest friends are all DiscWorld fans. I know almost all of them through online contact rather than personal. There are people I know and spend time with and take an interest in in Real Life™, but it’s incredibly rare that I feel anything like the same sort of connection I do with them as with the people I hang around with at conventions, particularly DiscWorld conventions. And then we go home, some to different countries, most to different parts of this country, and we barely speak until the next convention. There’ll be online contact with a few of them, but unless you’re one of the double-handful that live in London, there’ll be no face-to-face stuff for two years.

I’m lonely. And after four days of feeling alone in the middle of a crowd of people, it really hits hard just how lonely I am.

Maybe I should just cut my losses and not go to any more.


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2 Responses to Mess

  1. No, no you shouldnt cut your losses. I didn’t talk to you much but hell I’m at least as socially awkward as you are, I project confidence becuase I’m of the “fake it till you make it” camp. You’re a decent guy and can mix music amazingly well, I liked all the tunes I heard, the only reason I left the hedgehog party is becuase I got chatting to a nice girl and eatned to do so in the quiet. This isn’t you talking this is depression thinking, it lies, it lies ALL… THE… TIME.
    Will Wheaton has written excellently on these types of feelings in his blog, check it out. Please keep coming, especially come to idwcon next year, it’s much smaller, less hectic and we can hang out a bit more, if you want to.
    To quote from the other franchise to the one we rpg in.
    “I am now, and shall always remain, your friend”.

  2. Random says:

    I think you’d be surprised how many people feel much the same but just haven’t said anything. I don’t tend to get the post-con blues so much because I’m coming home to Shiny People, and because I’m really easily peopled out so it’s a bit of a relief to be home. Hell, that’s why I moved up north!
    I find gophering helps (because Useful and Busy and Moving About, and I can’t *really* be pissing people off if I’m doing shit for them), as does nipping out for a fag on my own, and while I wouldn’t recommend *that* for obvious reasons, figuring out when you need 5 minutes to depressurize a bit and finding somewhere to go do it – even if that’s just a walk round the car park – helps a lot.
    One person I know (I’m not naming any names) left early because they’re not good at removing themselves from situations they find stressing before they become a can’t-enjoy-this-at-all level problem.
    While I keep having Masquerade ideas and I’d like to do them, it’s not just the time and space for manufacture that stops me doing it (that can always be worked around, the corset for Miss Band was done largely in a corner of Orinoco’s lounge) it’s that it’s stressful as all hell because it involves being trapped in a room with a LOT of other people, usually without food, and when I’ve done it before many of them were *small* people: running-about child is how come the Miss Band bustle went off backstage, had to be hastily re-primed and so didn’t drop the ‘if you canne read thyse, you are Dead’ flag.
    I have been in big embarrassing floods of tears at two cons and a CCDE that I can remember. This time, I had a near panic-attack while out for food with Pol & Hunter because of children running about, and even after nipping out for a lovely meal at a relatively quiet pub – thanks Mole! – on Sunday, (because OMG we need VEGETABLES and also to Not Be In The Hotel) both Hunter and I were still rather peopled out.
    I briefly ran away from the closing ceremonies (before returning to help tidy up a bit) because I needed to be out of the crowd (and of course made that worse by having to make my way back through it). Several times I ended up trapped against a wall somewhere because the corridor was busy and I needed to not have anyone that close, and got backed out of a conversation I was having because I was In The Way. I did not talk to some people who I wanted to because there were too many people near them whenever I saw them.
    I failed to take part in the T&J or even stay for more than a couple of songs oscilating between the doorway and the sofa outside because I was too tired – and therfore too stressed – to deal with it. I failed to attend several events I wanted to because I was outside, or had left the hotel or because there were too many people queueing and I couldn’t face it.
    So… yeah, cons are a big ball of stress and argh… but I wouldn’t dream of *not* going because all in all it’s outweighed by needing to see and catch up with people. I know I’d be bloody miserable if I wasn’t there when it was happening, and even more miserable than usual in between if I didn’t have that opportunity to recharge the social. But I’ve got a lot better recently at getting the hell out of there when I need to.

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