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The Midweek Mingle: Top 3 Convention Tips

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve been here. Or on any blog, for that matter. Eastern Washington’s been on fire for the past month (including my neighborhood), my roommate scurried away to New York for a week (RAW Nationals), and I’m in charge of my family reunion again… and it’s impossible to get my family to do anything in a timely fashion.

But I’m back, and that’s what’s important, after all. We can get back to our Midweek Mingle and (hopefully) I won’t disappear without notice again. So grab a cup of coffee (mine’s empty at current, but help yourself) and sit down for a nice chat. A bit of a different chat, perhaps, but hopefully a nice one.

Now, a lot of what I talk about in the Midweek Mingle is how the SF/F community as a whole can be more accepting of the QUILTBAG+ community. But it’s not a one-sided thing. So today, I’ve got my top three tips for QUILTBAG+ individuals wanting to be more accepted at cons (I can do online groups and such at a later date.).

(As a disclaimer, this is just what’s worked for me or people I know. It’s very possible that these things won’t work in your area or in your situation, but I’ve tried to come up with fairly universal advice.)

1: Fake your confidence. I mean it. I’m not normally a proponent of lying, but this is an exception. If you don’t feel confident in a situation, if you feel like an outsider in a given group (in this case, the SF/F community), don’t let anyone know. Believe me, I know it’s difficult to put yourself out there and feign that confidence. You might get noticed. Something might go wrong. It might not work out, and you’ll just feel that much worse.

Those things are all true. Do it anyway. If you want to fit in anywhere, you have to take that risk. And, in particular, the SF/F community is easier to do this in. It’s full of introverts and the socially awkward. You don’t have to take as much of a risk to make yourself exude confidence in that situation. So as cliché as it might be, you have to fake it ‘til you make it.

2: Come with a support system in place. I would recommend this to anyone jumping into anything foreign. Don’t go it alone. You should always do your best to make sure you have some sort of a safety net. Something bad might happen. It’s just the way it works. Or if nothing bad happens, you might just need a safe place to destress. That’s where your supports come in. People you know and trust and who aren’t going to be there. The last thing you need when you’re trying to slip into the fray is a meltdown, no matter the reason.

3: Respect your own comfort zone. See, I don’t like crowds. I don’t like it when there are a lot of people close to me. I don’t even like touching other people, especially if I don’t know them. And I know and respect that about myself. When I’m at cons, I don’t go to the dances and the big parties that often because that would make me uncomfortable. I know a lot of people like that. I also know a lot of people who don’t like, say, intimate panel situations at conventions. It puts too much pressure on them. That’s perfectly legitimate too. The important thing is to know that about yourself.

See, if you end up somewhere like that, it’s going to show that you’re uncomfortable and, for the most part, people are going to back away. That creates an impression of you in their minds, and unfortunately, it’s not an impression of ‘someone I’d like to get to know.’ So yes, you should push yourself, but not too far. The further you go, the worse the recoil.

What are your best tips for mingling (believe me, I could use them sometimes)? Let me know in the comments below an maybe we can mingle, too.

Voss

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