Mr. Awesome Sauce and I spent the past weekend at Denver Comic Con. Now in it’s third year, this was by far the best Con the organizers have put on so far. It’s obvious that they spent the last year doing the best they could to iron the last few kinks to make this a fun and exciting event for everyone. It was a very long three days, but we had so fun much that the sore feet and blisters were well worth it in the end. We got the opportunity to attend some fantastic panels about writing and geekery, snag some great swag from some of our favorite artists, and meet some truly awesome people that we hope to consider friends for years to come. However, for all the fun we had, both of us were hyper-aware of our internal social meters and insecurities.
At one point Mr. Awesome Sauce expressed disbelief when I professed shyness and anxiety, and I wondered, not for the first time, if those around me are completely oblivious to the internal struggle I wage in social situations. Could it be, that even he, the man I love more than life itself and whom I intend to marry (next September – woo hoo!) isn’t aware of the panic I feel every time I’m faced with a group of more than four or five people? Is it possible that he doesn’t know my first instinct is to run away whenever I’m in a group of people I don’t know, or how I regularly feel as though I am standing outside of the crowd even when I’m surrounded by friends and loved ones?
Meeting those aforementioned awesome people at the Con has inspired a few conversations over the past few days between Mr. Awesome Sauce and I about the rules of social interactions, and how we’re both a little socially awkward despite the personable and easy going facade we present. The people we met at Comic Con were funny, quirky, talented, and a little bat-shit, just like us. They’re definitely our kind of people, but because they also happen to be local authors and professionals within the literacy industry/community we felt a bit nervous approaching them. There is a fine line between being friendly and being a creepy stalker, and sometimes it’s a little hard to tell exactly where that line is. Is it okay to hang out at someone’s booth and chit chat, letting conversation flow through its inevitable ups and downs, or once the conversation starts to slide into a lull should you back away to avoid the possibility of being a lurker? I’m never sure, and I think Mr. Awesome Sauce is in the same boat, and so I think more often than not we leave before we really need to.
I believe that most people don’t find it easy to navigate social situations all the time, but that nervousness is intensified a thousand fold when you’re an introvert, even a closeted one. Sometimes I feel like I need to wear a sign around my neck proclaiming “Hi! I’m an introvert and a social misfit. Please excuse any creepy lurking! I mean you no harm” but that would probably prompt people to question me about the sign, and then I’d be warring that same battle of social anxiety once again.
So if you happen to know an introvert, or encounter one in your wanderings, and they seem to linger like the smell of sweaty gym socks, just remember that they’re not trying to be creepy (most of them anyway), it’s just that their social radar is a little broken.