I had a fabulous time at Norwescon this year. I’m a little bummed I couldn’t make it for the full convention. My husband was in Arizona watching spring training for his only real vacation of the year, so between my new job and lack of child care, my attendance was limited to Saturday and Sunday. And even Saturday, I had to start late due to the caucus, though I’m glad I went.
I mainly attended panels, skipped a few when friends let me know they were available for lunch. It was really great to be able to catch up with a few people I would not normally see except for at these events. When we sat down to eat, we talked about writing. What we were writing, about the craft of writing, the books we’ve read and loved, a little about fandom, psychology and geeking out, but very little else. There was no talk about people, there was no gossip, small talk, or empty socializing that I find so frustrating. It was all surprisingly enjoyable and pleasantly relaxing.
The first year that I attended Norwescon, I spent the majority of the time manning the booth for Cascade Writers. Same for Worldcon. Orycon, I was able to attend panels, but not as many as I had hoped. I attended the convention with someone, and felt obligated to spend time with them. At Rustycon, I was on a number of panels, and was in charge of the children’s workshops and had very little time or energy to actually attend panels.
It’s funny now, looking back, realizing how much time I spent at conventions in the last year not actually doing what I would have preferred to do. It was a good experience, but I felt like I missed out on things I would have liked to have done if I had been on my own.
So this last weekend, the freedom of just being myself, by myself, felt good. There were no expectations or obligations. If I wanted to do lunch with someone, I could. If I wanted to chat with panelists afterwards, I could. If I wanted to spend hour after hour just in panels, no one was waiting for me, or wanting to do something else. It was just me, myself and I.
I’m not one for groups. One of the lovely people I spent a good deal of time with shared those sentiments, and it was nice to know I’m not strange for feeling this way. I simply feel more comfortable in a one-on-one setting.
It was also lovely that several people made a point to reach out to me, ask if I was alright, wanted to make sure that I was doing well. It was so very kind of them. I was quite well, actually. I felt a little awkward responding to their kindness, because as much as I appreciated it, I didn’t actually need it. It was so touching, though, to know they cared enough to ask.
I only had one real instance of panic and anxiety. I attended a panel on PTSD, and was speaking with one of the panelists afterwards about our experiences. I was talking about my recent experiences, discussing narcissists, how they work, and sharing our text book similar experiences. It was great speaking with someone else who was part of my ‘club.’ It was a relief to discuss how similar their experience was, to be able to express to them how clearly I had had been idolized, devalued and discarded, how it firmly and completely it had changed my view of things.
While talking, I gave away details that would make it easy enough to figure out who I was talking about if they’d been there. I looked to my right, and suddenly, I thought the person I was talking about WAS there. One of the only other people still in the room looked, from the back, rather like the person who had recently hurt me. My heart started pounding, and I had to fight back the panic. Luckily, the panelist I was speaking with is someone who I really relate to, admire, and is so reassuring and easy to talk to to.
I feel so much better now, being able to talk to someone who understood. I was scared that by daring to share, to put into words, to even admit that the person who had hurt me was, it would be held against me. That I would be branded as the bad guy, that I would be turned on as the gossip, the bad-mouther, the drama queen, the pot stirrer. It’s a cycle I know well. Flying Monkeys are nothing new in my life.
Now, though, as I write this, I’m not nearly as anxious. They have no hold on me.
Conforming isn’t my style. I have no desire to change people, except perhaps, to open their minds and hearts to my own unique view of the world. I can enjoy the company of other wonderful people who open my eyes to their own view of the world, who have no need to define, bind or change me.
I came away with a renewed understanding of why I had been so hesitant to get involved in a group or club. I also get why I always felt uncomfortable with the term ‘tribe’ I’d heard thrown around in the community. It’s just another word for clique.
I don’t need a tribe.
I’m a rogue, a wanderer, a free spirit.