Next time I stay in a hotel, I think I am going to ask NOT to be directly in front of the bank of elevators. Because when you are directly in front of the bank of elevators, it can be a little noisy. Also? Horticulturists have conventions. And they drink a lot at horticulture conventions, apparently, and a lot of them are staying on my floor.
Before I was allowed to stay in a hotel, however, I had to pass inspection. Or rather, my luggage had to pass inspection.
God forbid I bring shame upon the family or anything by having crap luggage. Fortunately, there are cats to save me from this ever happening.
So! I’m here in Ventura for Craftcation, the big DIY and indie business conference. It’s very exciting. I’ve never been to a conference before, it feels kind of grown up in an odd way – a little like when I bought a new couch instead of getting one off the parkway on trash day. It’s one of those “this is what adults do.” moments. Stay in hotels, go to conventions, talk to other adults.
Me, I got into my hotel room, saw the awesome view, and spent a whole minute jumping on the bed.
You can hear the waves crashing on the beach outside. If it weren’t freezing out there, I’d totally have the window open.
We got swag in a bag!
We got magazines, tee shirts, handmade salted caramels and stuffed monkeys and coloring books and scissors and thermal lunch bags and of course everything had all the logos of the sponsors on it, but that’s ok by me. It was swag.
In a bag.
There was more squealing and then the absolute terror set in. I’m alone, in a hotel, filled with all these Crafty Cool Kids who I probably would never in a million years actually meet normally, and we’re all here to talk about things like indie business and financial stuff, accounting for people like me (creative), social networking, SEO, needle felting, and jam-making. And so much other stuff. Like 3 full days worth of stuff.
And I’m here alone and I don’t know anyone and that is really scary for a big anti-social introvert like me. The social anxiety set in like whoah, and I really had to force myself to get out of the hotel room. Because it would be totally stupid to pay all this money and then MISS OUT because of social anxiety. I didn’t come here to hide in my hotel room, I’m not 12, this is not middle school and the Crafty Cool Kids are not Mean Girls. I can do this.
I even brought lipstick. Because none of these people know me and maybe I can perpetuate the illusion that I’m one of those put together people who actually, you know, wears lipstick like it’s normal and no big thing.
So here are my steps for dealing with social anxiety and grown up conventions.
1. Get out of your hotel room.
2. Get in the damn car.
3. Find a burger (in this case, veggie with avocado, no onions) because you probably forgot to eat lunch and your blood sugar is tanking. If you can find a burger at a place that reminds you of home, all the better.
You’ll feel one tiny toehold of familiarity on the huge slippy rock face of the unknown and it will help.
4. Get your butt to your workshop on time (and hang around a bit trying not to look all awkward while they figure out logistics).
5. Enjoy your workshop.
So that’s about as far as I got. I got to my workshop, which was fan-freaking-tastic btw, a quickie open paint studio. I made a mandala (of course, I mean, it’s March Mandalas and what else do I ever paint?) only this one was very loose and open and done in acrylic, instead of ink and watercolor. I really liked doing it. I think I’m going to play with acrylics more when I get home.
It was the perfect entry level thing to get me over that initial bump of terror and into the whole idea of this convention thing.
Except… then there was a mixer. And a BBQ. I had this conversation with myself while waiting for the painting workshop to begin.
“Yeah! There will be BBQ! There will be wine!”
“There will be… people.”
“Did I mention BBQ?”
“‘mixer.’ Just the very word strikes terror into my heart.”
“Pork products cooked over fire and grown up grape juice.”
“Oh fuck it. Fine. Have it your way. We’ll go eat alone with a good book.”
“YES! YES! YES!”
“I was not serious. BBQ.”
and on and on in this vein. Yes, this happens in my brain. ALL THE TIME. Actually this happened in the pages of my journal, but I was channeling it directly from my brain to the page so I think that is splitting hairs.
In the end, I wound up locating a bookstore – OMG THE ADVENTURE! IN THE CAR! IN A STRANGE TOWN! – and the smell was familiar and soothing. It made me feel instantly better. I compromised with myself and told myself I could skip the mixer and eat at the hotel (we really need to get room service at my house, I’m just saying) as long as tomorrow I go and eat breakfast and lunch with all the People.
I’m totally looking forward to the workshops.
Probably I will get comfortable with this whole grown up networking socializing thing by the time we have to go home. I’ll have lots of chances to practice. There’s a happy hour social thing in the bar tomorrow. And on Saturday? An 80’s party mixer thing.
Yeah, so, the challenges? They keep coming. I’ll let you know how it goes. Either way, I’m very happy to be here and I can’t wait for all the amazing information I am gonna soak up from the Crafty Cool Kids… whether or not I make it to any social events, it’s a great opportunity for learning and I’m grateful to have it. Excelsior!