That time you were too drunk to fight back when your friends insist you take a cab instead of walk. Also proof drinking does make you dumber. 🙂
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Alex is our resident Webcomic creator. He grew up in Puerto Rico, but didn’t reach true Nerdom until he came state side when he was in middle school. He’s been drawing since he was five, but has only started posting Webcomics in the past year. You can check out his amazing and original work at tapastic.com/gomezalexj.
I admire those who can boldly walk up to a random person, introduce themselves, and within ten minutes have a new friend; what is easy for them can take me ten days, if not weeks, to do as an introvert with mild social anxiety. As an introvert, I am naturally quiet, but with social anxiety added into the mix, it can be a completely different story. Crowds, strangers, and new social situations can make me feel constantly on edge. I can get extremely skittish in tightly packed crowds, and an occasional near panic attack is not unheard of in such situations. Yet I – the girl who has actively avoided taking a Speech course throughout her entire college career thus far – absolutely love attending Dragon Con. This year specifically has provided the chance to truly break me out of my shell, and I owe it to a few close friends and 70K+ con attendees.
Surprisingly, this year was not my first time at Dragon Con. That honor goes to 2014. My first ever time at such a large convention actually turned out to be a wonderful one thanks to the Dragon Con veterans who took me under their wing. They were able to prepare me for what to expect (lines, and cosplays, and geeks, oh my!) and acted as my guides over the four day experience. Their presence helped keep me calm in the hustle and bustle, and they acted as social buffers for any interactions I was involved in. My anxiety still played a part in the trip but because of them, I never felt overwhelmed. Upon returning home from the trip, I knew I had to return for 2015.
However, life is funny and not everything goes as planned, so I went into this year’s convention with more than a little hesitation. After all, everything leading up to the convention weekend seemed to go wrong. First, our attempt to book with the Hyatt failed, solidifying Passkey’s infamous reputation. This resulted in a very frantic reservation to the Marriott… a well-known party hub, particularly at night.
Oh dear, my social anxiety squeaked. This won’t be good.
Second, a few close friends had to give their regretful cancellations in the final hours before the trip due to understandable life events. A bummer for sure in any situation, but this left my social and makeshift stranger buffer much smaller than last year. With my safety net greatly reduced, I would be forced to leave my comfort zone. In turn, I was presented with a unique but frightening opportunity.
Instead of concentrating on the negatives, I decided to take this as a challenge to branch out a bit in order to overcome some of my social anxiety. But how would I go about making this an adventure?
During Dragon Con ‘14 I had been surrounded by very lovely cosplays but had been entirely too shy and/or intimidated to ask anyone for a photograph of their hard work. Not only was the simple fact of asking itself terrifying, I was afraid of inconveniencing people or being judged for asking a stranger for a photo, so I missed out on many beautiful photographs I regret not taking.
This year I decided I would make a change. I did not want my anxiety to interfere with my con experience anymore. Friday morning I gave myself one personal goal: I would find a single cosplay I enjoyed, walk up to the individual, and request a photo. Sounds simple enough, right? For most people it is – they can it to do without a second thought. For me, it would be a monumental step forward.
A hilarious early morning Milk fed Criminal Masterminds panel left me feeling pumped up and ready to take on the world.
As luck would have it, on my way to my next scheduled panel I passed by a fantastic version of the Tenth Doctor and Madame de Pompadour from Doctor Who. With a deep breath to gather up the remaining pluckiness inspired by the panel, I marched (read: timidly walked) up to them to request a photograph. Much to my delight, they were happy to oblige. I snapped a quick picture before my nerves vibrated me out of existence, thanked them, and walked away beaming.
This couple did not realize their small but highly positive interaction left a big impact on the rest of my weekend. Our brief encounter had me feeling empowered. I had set out to do something and done it; I had not let my anxiety win. I was proud of myself! Thanks in no tiny part to them, I was able to get over my initial shyness, and as the weekend continued, each time I approached another cosplayer became easier. An unintentional side effect of accomplishing this small feat? It led to me feeling overall more relaxed in the geek hordes. Who knew such a seemingly inconsequential ordeal could lead to something more?
Most importantly, all of this would help when Saturday night rolled around, the night we traditionally set aside to explore the parties.
I had been sharing various Snapchats of events with the people who could not attend this year. One of those friends suggested I use this chance to do a Dragon Con themed scavenger hunt. She would send me subjects that went from assorted “easy” themes (Marvel character, Nintendo character, gender bend), to moderate themes (“fandom you don’t know – bonus for asking what fandom it was from”), to what would be personally hard for me (“walking up to someone and asking them to dance with them”).
Frankly, it sounded like a blast so I was instantly game for it.
The scavenger hunt turned out to be a great way to interact with people at the parties. Every new item I would be given gave me a new reason to weave in and out of the mass of people in my search to mark the item off my checklist, and the hunt itself served as the perfect, fun ice breaker. By the end of the night, I was confidently introducing myself to people, a nearly unheard of thing for me. The very last task – dance with a random person – was even successfully marked off the scavenger list. I danced terribly, but I danced with pride.
Every year brings about a different experience, and for me, Dragon Con ’15 turned into an adventure in self-discovery. Who knew I could happily go out of my way to speak to utter strangers – let alone dance with one? Definitely not the girl from ’14! This year inspired me to test my boundaries, leading me to feel more comfortable in my own skin as I grew a little more confident with each new accomplishment. The pride I had from those little triumphs has spilled over into my real life, too. I find myself a little less edgy in crowds, and although being around new people is still nowhere near pleasant for me, I feel I can manage the situation better.
With ’15 wrapped up, the prep work for Dragon Con ’16 has already started. Tickets have already been purchased, the hotel has been reserved, and the wait for the guest list has begun. The only thing left to do is decide on a new personal goal.
You know, I have never cosplayed before…
Heather is a bookworm with a varied Goodreads, although if you are looking for reviews in the romance genre, your princess is in another castle. She’s a passionate console gamer who is diving headfirst back into comics after a long hiatus. She once met Patrick Stewart and played it cool; she met Babs Tarr and fangirled an embarrassing amount. You can follow her on Twitter @MissHWilliamson, where she has a habit of live tweeting (particularly The Walking Dead).
‘Dragon Con 2015 Wrap Up’ is part of a multi-post series where the writers of Some Nerd Girl share their convention stories – whether they be good, bad, or ugly!
I remember my first Dragon Con. It was 2007, and I was deep in the throes of Battlestar Galactica (BSG) fandom. My friend Corrine had told me about an online BSG fan group that I ended up joining, and about how Dragon Con is a magical place full of all of the things I loved: gaming, sci-fi, fantasy, comics, just to name a few.
I bought a pass, threw together one of my first ever costumes (BSG BDUs, of course) and trekked down to Atlanta.
Boy, was my friend right. I was enthralled by all of the people, the costumes, and the culture that is Dragon Con. What drew me in was the content, the celebrities, and being able to dress up as the characters I’d come to love in all of my favorite genres. What ended up happening, however, is that I gained an immense group of friends as well.
Dragon Con is now the best geek family reunion I could ever hope for, and I count the days every year until all of us can converge upon downtown Atlanta and share all the revelry together. It’s become a staple of my year, not just because I get to have all the things I love in one place, but so many of the people I love in one place as well. I have heard and been a part of so many stories of friendships, engagements, and marriages beginning at Dragon Con, and I’m willing to bet you have too. I still love seeing the celebrities, getting my comics signed, and marching in or watching the parade—but what Dragon Con really means to me now is “family.”
If you’re reading this, then you know that the Post-Con Depression struggle is real. I don’t want to go back to the Muggle world! So instead, let’s talk about all things Dragon Con in this breakdown of some of the ups, the downs, and the in betweens.
The Carpet. Oh, Marriott. You put down fresh carpet for us? How kind of you! It smelled so new on Tuesday.
The Weather. There was a bit of normal Atlanta heat, but during several photoshoots I was at or viewed on the Hilton steps, it actually got breezy! This was a huge relief when I was wearing my Fallout wasteland gear on Sunday. It actually meant that walking outside if I needed to wasn’t as sweltering and awful as it normally is in Atlanta.
Registration. This year, like last, was an absolute breeze. Kudos to Dragon Con for making this process pretty darn painless.
Key Cards at three of the hotels! How cool is it that this was a triptych? This should happen every year. (Here’s a neat trick: the first and last cards also go together so you can put them in a different order)
The Guests. It’s obviously clear how much I love Battlestar Galactica, so having Grace Park join the majority of the cast here for con, knowing she rarely ever comes to conventions, was amazing. There were so many other shows I was excited to see represented—Lost Girl, Arrow, Sleepy Hollow, Defiance, and even Karen Gillan from Dr. Who and Guardians of the Galaxy fame showed up. Great pulls, Dragon Con.
I was also excited for Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction to be there. Comics have come back into my life in a big way, and these two people are heavily responsible for this. There were a lot of great voice actors and puppeteers (hello Caroll Spinney, a.k.a. Big Bird!) I’ll admit, I also nerded out over John Noble (Fringe, Sleepy Hollow), who took my hand, looked right into my eyes, and talked to me like I was the most important person in the room. What a lovely man. Meeting these people are icing on the cake here.
The Parties. You know what I’m talking about. Room parties and other scheduled events of these types are a blast. If you weren’t at one of these, you were likely at the Rave!
The Music Guests. With us, as always, are the goth fairy friendly Cruxshadows, and steampunk favorites Abney Park, but this year Ego Likeness, Here Come the Mummies and Rasputina joined us for some epic rocking. The Doubleclicks (who I had just seen at GenCon) also brought their fun and smart nerd folk. The Mummies made people lose their collective minds with their Funk power, and Rasputina brought edgy cellos into the mix (though sadly, there were major monitor issues during their set, making me concerned they won’t want to come back). I didn’t get to see Ego Likeness this year due to over commitment, but their dark industrial sound is always sure to scratch that itch in your little black soul (Spoiler alert: They’re actually also super nice people!).
The Photoshoots/Costumes. Of course. As always. Man. Just seeing some of the photos coming out of these shoots is part of my Post-Con Depression therapy. There are too many to name, but this is the best way to see a great grouping of some of the best costumes you’ll see. I always go through flickr and just do a search for “dragoncon” in the tags for a great show. (WARNING: Browse at your own risk, some of these may be NSFW!) Then there are crazy mashups that happen without explanation, like Warboy Minion:
Low Points. 😦
The Carpet: Oh, Marriott. Some of these areas looked like, well, like congoers were already in certain spots here.
Congestion. Every year this con gets bigger. Though all reports from my fellow con-goers agree that traffic flow seemed better, there were so many people there, it definitely got a big swampy. Speaking of…
The Marriott Temperature. Anyone else think the management decided to make it too hot to hang out? Even with the obvious large number of 98.6s in the atrium, I don’t remember it being that bad before. The Marriott is usually THE place to be, and this year, I actually found more relief in the Hyatt and Hilton and found myself wanting to stay there instead.
Overflowing Panel Lines and Lack of Organization. I gave up trying to see John Barrowman and Stephen Amell over the weekend. Both panels were lined up for hours (which I get it–if you want to wait in line, that’s part of con, right?) and I was turned away after the “end” of one of the lines was going into the room, being told they weren’t letting anyone else in at all. Later, a friend reported she walked into the same panel 15 minutes after it had started with no problem whatsoever. Here’s the thing—I can’t imagine how hard it is to run these cons. I just know how frustrating it was to not be able to get correct answers from staff on seating.
Panel Choices on DCTV: This year I had a few friends with disabilities and also with young children attend. They weren’t always able to get to the panels and through the crowds (or with an infant, didn’t want to chance a crying fit in a panel) and we chatted about how some of the best panels (like the dual Barrowman/Amell Arrow panel) wasn’t even broadcast on Dragon Con TV that we could find, but some groups were broadcast more than once.There were also technical difficulties which seem an inevitability.
This year we saw the addition of DCTV Land, which was a cool idea, but I think many of us would rather have two full channels of panels instead of “classic DCTV” bumpers and shows. I appreciate the content, and don’t want to insult the fine people who put all the fun videos together (I truly do enjoy them), but it seems like these could be broadcast after panels end for the day (I mean, most of us are up all night), and for the 30 minutes between panels, in my opinion.
Baddie McBadderson Time
The Carpet. Oh, Marriott. I’m sorry. We just can’t guarantee not to spill…well, something on your floors. I’m so glad you have a great cleaning crew, and all the Scotchgard.
Assault? When I got back, I heard of a case of sexual assault that happened at con, which is deeply disturbing (and still under investigation). There’s a reason cosplay is not consent, no means no, and being drunk and incoherent means no, too. There’s a whole can of worms that we could open over this, but I’ll just say please, con-goers, don’t be evil. A lot of people get crazy at con, but there is never, ever an excuse for assault. End of story.
I know I’ve missed a few things that you lovely readers can bring out—after all, none of us can possibly see everything at Dragon Con. So what were your highs and lows? What else would you have liked to have done?
Melody is a Southern Girl living in the Midwest with her equally nerdy husband, Asuka the dog, and Bastet the cat, who only answers to “kee kee kee!” She currently is loving Dragon Age Inquisition (because she’s behind, GOSH) and Sense8. Fandoms include (but are not remotely limited to) Dr. Who, BSG, Supernatural, and Star Trek AND Wars!. She’s Commander Shepard, and this is her favorite blog on the citadel!