If you haven’t noticed from this site and my Twitter, I’m heading to both Denver Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con this year. I hit up DCC every year, but this will be my very first time hitting up the craziness that is SDCC.
I’ll be real honest with you guys: I’m super intimidated about attending SDCC. I’ll be attending as press, so I’ll be working (read: running about the con like a crazylady), which will certainly help keep me focused and less overwhelmed. Still, it’s such a GIANT event with TONS of people everywhere. I’ve got anxiety (and I’m also a stone-cold introvert) and conventions can be a lot for me. So here are some survival tips I’ve learned that can hopefully help keep convention season fun for you (and can help make SDCC a bit less intimidating for me).
Take Your Meds
I mean, this one almost goes without saying, but if you’re on meds, be sure you take them. If you’re travelling out of the city or out of state for the convention, be sure you pack them, and be sure you have some sort of an alarm to remind you to take them when you’re supposed to during the convention. Seriously. Time can be hard to keep track of in a convention, so don’t rely on your memory when it comes to your medication. Keep a water bottle with you (for hydration as well–cons are hot and you will get thirsty) so you can take your pill when the time comes, regardless of where you are.
It doesn’t matter how big or small the convention you’re attending will be. There will be people milling about everywhere, and feeling like you’re trapped in an endless stream of humans with no power over your own movements can be a lot. While you can’t control the crowds, if you have headphones you can give yourself a mini-break by popping those bad boys in and listening to some music or relaxing sounds while you’re waiting in a line or walking to a panel. While you need to make sure you’re still aware of what’s going on around you (headphones don’t mean you get to stop being spatially aware), they can help keep you calm if the crowds are getting stressful. Having headphones is also good if you need to just take a break from the convention entirely and have a moment to yourself. Which brings me to my next point…
Find Yourself a Safe Spot
You may not ever end up needing it, but try to scope out a place that you can go if you need some space and quiet. Of course be sure that your spot is in line with the convention rules (so don’t pick a “quiet spot” in a restricted area), but it’s nice to know that if you’re feeling particularly spent or anxious that you have a place you can go to calm down a bit. Depending on the size of the convention, a quiet (or less noisy) spot may be hard to find. But don’t be afraid to tell the people you’re with that you just need to take a bit of a break if things get to be too much.
Set Up a Signal With Your Friends..and Don’t Be Afraid to Use It
If you’re going with a group of friends or family, set up a signal that you can use if you either need help (like you’re stuck in a conversation with someone and you need out) or you need a break from everything. Whether its a hand signal you flash across a room or something you send via text, make sure they know that it means either “rescue me” or “I just need a minute”. You won’t always be right next to your group, and trying to let your friends know what’s up without any sort of previously agreed upon signal when there’s a sea of people between you is a PAIN. So create a signal, and don’t be afraid to use it! Conventions are a blast, but if you’re stuck somewhere trying to fight an anxiety attack, you’ll be miserable. So set up something from the start with your group, and take care of yourself if you need it.
Stay Open To New Experiences
While it’s good to have all of these avenues of self-care in the midst of convention crazy, it’s important to go in with the attitude of having adventures and new experiences. Sure, your comfort zone might be the absolute opposite of the convention scene, but cons are a ton of fun. Expect to push yourself and try some new things, and while you should always feel safe to back away when you need it, be ready to expand your horizons a bit!
Do you have any other tips? Share them in the comments, and be sure to follow me on Twitter and come back here to see my 2017 convention adventures!