Cons and Confidence

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In a couple of weeks, I’ll be attending my fourth convention of the year. I’ve already been to cons dedicated to Star Wars and Star Trek, and another that focused generally on comics, sci-fi, and fantasy as a whole. The one I’ve got coming up is similar to the general one, just in a different city. I’ve enjoyed all the cons, and am very much looking forward to the next one. But there’s also a huge amount of fear in me, as there is whenever I attend a busy public event.

I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m very shy, and have been recently trying to push myself out of that shyness. Cons seem to be a good opportunity to do that because I’m surrounded by like-minded people, so am almost certain to find something to talk about with every single person in the room. For someone like me, that’s pretty much a dream, but I’ve not had much success at the conventions so far and I can’t really explain why.

For whatever reason, there’s something inside that stops me approaching even people I’m pretty sure I’d get along with. It’s a horrible fear: that I’ll be laughed at, that they won’t like me, or that they’ll be perfectly wonderful people and I’ll upset them somehow. I’m particularly shy when it comes to approaching women at conventions because I know how difficult women can have it, especially at male dominated cons, and I wouldn’t want to come across like I was ‘one of those guys’. This fear is what stopped me from approaching two women who created excellent cosplay at two of the cons I’ve been to this year: I hate to make people uncomfortable, and worry that I’ll do just that if I say anything.

Cosplay is one of my favourite things about going to cons. I’m not a big fan of collecting autographs or having my picture taken with celebrities (probably the shyness striking again), but I love wandering the convention floor and seeing how people have dressed. The creativity on display is incredible, and I’m particularly keen on people who reinterpret costumes, like Disney fans do with Disneybounding. It’s fun to see a new take on a costume that still clearly looks like that character. At this next con, I’m determined to ask at least one person who cosplays for a picture.

For this forthcoming con, I was going to dress in a red hoodie, find a bicycle basket, and stuff an E.T. plushie in there so I could be Elliott. I’ve now abandoned this idea, partly because after the con I’ll be going straight to a screening of Moana (with a Ron Clements and John Musker Q&A!!!!!!), and partly because I was terrified of the idea of people looking at me. Instead, I think I’m going to make a t-shirt similar to the Paperman and Little Mermaid ones I’ve done. That way I can stand out a little, but not too much. It’s not a huge step, but it’s a step nonetheless.

And, most importantly, it’s a step I need to take. I’ve been feeling increasingly lonely across the last few years, and need someone in my life. I’m 32 now, and have never had a girlfriend. I’ve lived alone for the last four years, and can often go entire weekends without having a proper face-to-face conversation with someone. I want someone special in my life, someone I can share things with. Someone to hold hands with during a walk, someone to cuddle with while watching a film. Someone who I am special to and who is special to me. It’s tough finding that kind of thing, and I’m worried I never will.

I’m reining myself in on a girlfriend hunt though, because finding Miss Right is more important than finding Miss Right Now, and what I’m looking for currently is kindred spirits. The internet has been truly helpful in finding this thanks to Twitter and blogging, and the incredible people who participate in them. I hope they aren’t embarrassed by me mentioning them, but The Switch Sisters are my Disney gurus and my absolute favourite people to discuss Princesses with. They’re smart, they’re funny, they’re pretty much the best. I could talk to them every day and there are scores of other people I’ve met through this blog, my Tumblr, and my Twitter who I could talk to endlessly as well. These are super, lovely, friendly, kind, amazing people and it’s a joy chatting with them.

But the curse of the internet is that I’ll likely never meet any of them in person. I’d love to, and when I half-jokingly threw out an idea for a Disney convention that would have signings, cosplay, singalongs, AND serious talks about the analytical side of Disney films, people seemed to respond well. I genuinely would love to do something like that, and I wish Disney did more cons than just the D23 Expo. I keep trying to think of a way to collaborate with people online so there’s more of a sense of community, but I haven’t found a good way so far. A podcast would be a good way to go, but I fear I’d clam up and make things awkward. Damned shyness again!

But I refuse to give up. The wonderful thing about cons is that you feel a part of something, even if you’re just wandering about keeping yourself to yourself. They remind you that even if you feel horribly alone at times, even if you wake up and find it difficult to face to the day ahead, even if you truly do feel that there’s no-one else out there like you… there really is. There are lots of people actually and they’re all mingling somewhere. You’ve just got to have the courage and the confidence to go and find them. As long as I keep pushing and going to these events, I give myself a good chance of developing those things. Maybe one day, I’ll even be able to cosplay!

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3 thoughts on “Cons and Confidence

  1. Hi! Allow me to help if I can.
    I’ve been going to cons and cosplaying since 2010. Luckily I go with my boyfriend who is an extravert, which makes it a gazillion times easier for me to blend in seamlessly. Here are my two cents:
    Cent 1. one of the easiest ways to talk to people is to approach vendors and ask them about their stuff. They are both huge dorks and there to sell to you, so 90% of them will be up for a discussion about their arts and crafts. Ask them why they made the character design choices they made or if they do original projects. They’ll probably also want to connect online.
    Cent 2: as a woman who cosplays, I can tell you that there are a few kinds of guy who approach in a way that isn’t okay. I suspect that you are not in that category, but to ease your mind, here’s the basics: compliment the costume. ask if they made it themselves. ask how they made it. Its that simple! Guys screw up by either looming around and snapping photos while you’re trying to eat or something (photos are ok and expected but ask first) or by coming up and aggressively quizzing about the character.

    This summer my bf’s 15 year old niece came as a League of Legends character and was quizzed by guys the entire time. I have also been subjected to quizzing and “I bet you didn’t know…” which is the typical “this girl is doing it for attention, she’s not a real nerd” nonsense. I don’t imagine you’d ever do that, but that’s the big no-no in my opinion!

    Good luck 🙂
    Three

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  2. Thanks three – your two cents are always appreciated. This is really fantastic advice. I don’t know many women who cosplay, so don’t really have anyone to ask about the etiquette and would hate to cause offence or upset to someone. I’ll definitely be using this advice at the forthcoming con. In fact, it’s helped ease my mind a bit! 🙂

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