On Cons and Social Anxiety

I just came from Balticon, where I had a great time both as a panelist and an audience member. It was great to be among a group of people who were enthusiastic about the various genre fandoms. The con did a good job of making a welcome atmosphere for LGBTQ and POC folks, and had a robust harassment policy posted prominently. My panels were evenly spread and not back-to-back, and I had plenty of time to chill out. In fact, my Saturday schedule was basically empty! But I noticed something: I was exhausted by 10pm each day, even during the light schedule days. And by exhausted, I mean fatigued. Bone-deep tiredness, the type where your eyelids feel like they have weights on them. When I got in bed, I immediately fell asleep as if I had done strenuous exercise. It was beyond just the normal con fatigue.

Socially Concious

And that’s when it dawned on me—I was experiencing the physical toll of social anxiety. I have a mild form of anxiety, one that I am finally addressing in treatment. I never feel like I belong. I am awkward in crowded social situations (such as room parties!) and find that I need some time alone after being social. I will often go up to a con’s Green Room just to be alone.

I am writing this for a couple reasons. One, to apologize for any aloofness/unapproachability  vibe I radiated. Secondly, I want to kind of raise awareness about this issue. Much of the reason I go to cons is for networking. And networking is one of those things you must do as an author. Face-time with editors and authors are as important as submission in this business. And I know that I have missed connecting with other people because of this condition of mine. Finally, I think this is an important signal-boost the issue. I tweeted that “Networking for the Socially Anxious” should be a panel topic.

Outer Dark Symposium recording; Balticon

The recording of the Outer Dark Symposium panel I was on, The House on the Borderlands/La Frontera, is now available to listen to on the This Is Horror website.

A description of the panel:

In this podcast The Outer Dark presents the first installment of The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird 2018 including  The House on the Borderlands/La Frontera” Panel, moderated by David Bowles and featuring Rios de la LuzCraig Laurance Gidney, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Scott Nicolay, and Tiffany Scandal, plus Readings by David Bowles and John Claude Smith. These segments were recorded live on Saturday March 24 at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California. The podcast also includes all-new exclusive News from The Weird with Max Booth III and Lori Michelle from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing.

Outer Dark

Also, I will be at Balticon this weekend. My schedule is posted below.

Balticon