So I guess I should start out by saying that I went on a trip last week. An author friend and I attended a book convention in an exotic location called Nashville, TN, to network and sell books and generally see what's UP in the writing world.
<-- Yep, that really happened.
It was our very first book convention, and we had no clue what to expect. We were one of the lucky ones, and were able to snag a table to set up our wares on. The place was absolutely packed - fangirls (and some fanboys) everywhere. We actually had to *GASP* speak to people.
It wasn't that bad, and I think I was able to hide a lot of my social anxiety as long as I was at the table and talking to people as they came up to check out the books. It was the times when I didn't have the security of my table when I began to feel the stirrings of panic. All around me there were people hugging and laughing and engaging in general merriment, and all I could do was gaze stupidly when their gaze managed to slide over me.
I can't say that I've never felt as awkward as I did in those moments, because that's pretty much how I feel all the time. And my author friend is just as socially inept as I am, so instead of one stupid, glassy-eyed stare, there were TWO.
I just couldn't understand it! I mean, it's not like I saw any villagers chasing me with pitchforks and torches. Everyone looked perfectly normal (OK, maybe that's a stretch) and friendly, and it seemed to be a pretty judgment-free zone. So I should have been able to come out of my bubble, right?
Even the simplest exchanges - stuff I'm supposed to just know, because I'm a girl. Girl code. There was an awards ceremony, and everyone dressed up and looked fabulous. Walking into the lobby, we saw a group of girls obviously from the same convention, on the way to the ceremony. They saw us, recognized us, and said, "Oh! I love your dresses!"
That would have been a perfect opportunity to smile back, perhaps throw a "Thank you! And yours is fabulous too!"...maybe engage in some witty, useless banter. You know - bond with other people.
What did we do? Well....not that.
We gave an awkward smile and then got the hell out of there.
As we were walking away, I even told my friend, "OK, we totally blew that. Girl code dictates that we should have stayed there and fawned over their dresses. We just acted weird."
Why does it just come so easily to other people? Those women made lasting friendships that weekend! They were crying when it was time to leave! What did we do?
We skipped the closing ceremonies and got the hell out of there.
Social anxiety, you devilish hosebeast.