This is an embarrassing comic, and not just because of the shitty Photoshop filters. It also exposes a nasty little secret of mine. I hastily drew this when I was in college to convey what social anxiety is like. It’s basically like every moment of your life, with few exceptions, is a job interview where the potential employer, receptionist and janitor are giving you the stinkeye the whole time. Also you’re onstage at the Apollo. The whole time.
“Interesting, if TMI disclosure about your mental illness. Now what does this have to do with Skepticon?”, you ask.
Yeah, I’m not going to do slides of my trip to Skepticville after all. Sorry. Just going to talk about feelings and such.
I attended Skepticon for the creation museum field trip on Friday, and the first day of talks. And I had personal goals to accomplish:
- Give out business cards (say, have you visited my store? It’s ace, and skeptic friendly!)
- Make friends and don’t be an avoidant dope. I refer to this constantly as “schmoozing,” to make it sound less like a basic skill most normal people have and more like X-treme Advanced Socializing for the Master Social Engineer. Please bear with me. It’s my insecurity talking.
There were many high points, schmoozing-wise, at Skepticon, such as getting the nerve to chat with Joe Nickell and sending him on a wild Strafford chupacabra hunt (I hope it went well). I even got on that little video I posted previously. But you can’t force your brain to rewire, otherwise ex-gay therapy would work.
The hardest part was when I got myself invited to a secret dinner with some of the headliners. (Long story, but the short version: I just happened to have a car with empty seats at the right time). I drove some people to the location, and we were all gunning to go to this place, and we arrive and get some drinks…
And my brain completely shuts down. I should divulge my typical reaction to meeting up with someone I know peripherally.
Me: Oh hey! I know you! You’re that person I know off the internet!
Person I Know Off the Internet: Oh, hello!
Me: *CATASTROPHIC SOFTWARE FAILURE*
I then resort to pathetic attempts at tedious small talk, and hover around in the hopes that they will learn to love me via osmosis. This reaction I have doesn’t just apply to e-celebrities, but also anyone that I have met on Facebook or Twitter or e-mail. I want to leave, but I can’t. I just shut down and stew in an effort not to cry.
What’s ironic is that at this dinner I was sitting next to JT Eberhard. If only I had known. But his speech is Sunday evening. I go home Saturday.
On Thanksgiving night after Skepticon, I have a breakdown. It’s not unusual, but this is the first one I’ve had in front of my boyfriend. I didn’t want him to ever see this, but it was inevitable. That may be part of the reason I’ve never had a significant other until a few years after college.
I just goofed up big at my onstage-at-the-Apollo job interview. Here it comes, whatever “it” is.
It doesn’t come. One of the perks of having an awesome boyfriend is that he doesn’t tell you “you need to just get out more.” Don’t have to stew in silence anymore on that front.
Afterwards I notice JT’s talk is up on the internet. Me and the BF watch it together.
I tell the BF. “I’m crazy.”
I hear something I didn’t expect. “I’m crazy too.”
More crying, only it’s happy crying now. The imaginary Apollo audience goes “awwwww,” the imaginary receptionist averts her eyes and looks ashamed.
Skeptics know more than most how the human brain can betray you. They should take up JT’s word and start championing understanding of mental illness. Next year, I will not try to stew in silence.Who knows who else is trying to do the same thing you are.
I have social anxiety disorder.
I’m crazy. You might be crazy too.
And that’s OK.