Introvert guide: conventions

man-2616599_1920I enjoy conventions. There’s something that keeps me coming back. Despite the massive crowds, over-stimulation, and constant buzz of conversation. I love massive nerdy comic expos, arts and crafts shows, and local festivals. As an introvert this may seem a bit contradictory. But I’m learning to enjoy them in my own introverted way. Here are a few things that help me not only survive, but thrive in a convention setting.

1. Accept you can’t do it all.
This is the hardest but most important step. I wish I could thrive on noise and energy like an extrovert, but that’s not who I am. I’m an introvert. I’m learning to take things at my own pace, listen to my body, and make awesome memories along the way.

2. Plan ahead.
Most large conventions will post a schedule of events ahead of time. I’ll browse the list and star anything that catches my eye. I’ll then pick 2-3 per day that I must see. The rest I’ll attend if I have the energy. Rather than cramming in everything and being miserably overwhelmed, I get to see the awesome stuff that excites me.

3. Check your energy.
During the event I check in with myself every 30 minutes. How am I feeling? Am I hungry or thirsty? Do I need a break or am I okay to keep going? What “percentage” is my energy level right now? Am I slightly overwhelmed or near my breaking point? Then I follow through on what I need. I have to be extra vigilant as it’s easy for me to slide from okay to overwhelmed in an instant.

4. Take breaks.
I can’t spend a whole day at a convention. I’ve tried and I’m a burned out, frazzled, irritated, mess by the end. So now I go for a limited time each day with lots of breaks. If I’m hungry or thirsty, I’ll find a place to sit down and refuel. I bring a refillable water bottle and lots of healthy snacks. If I’m getting fuzzy, I’ll step outside and go for a short walk. Or I’ll take a bathroom break and sit in the stall for a few moments. This isn’t a weakness, it’s being proactive about managing my energy. If I can’t handle things and need to head home, that’s okay too. I’m not a failure for taking care of myself.

5. Travel solo.
This is not always an option, but it’s definitely helpful. In previous years I’ve attended events with a clingy extroverted friend and I regretted it. If you’re going solo, you don’t feel obligated follow the group even if you feel terrible. But if you are with a group, let them know you’ll be popping in and out periodically. With technology it’s a lot easier to rejoin them later.

Do you have any other tips?

6 thoughts on “Introvert guide: conventions

  1. Bart Leahy says:

    Is this for work or fun? Either way, I definitely concur on the check-your-energy thing. I walked out of the vendors’ room/exhibit hall a couple times to get a breath of fresh air.

    If you’re attending a conference for work purposes, while it might seem analog/old fashioned, it’s good to carry along business cards and to collect others’. I’ll often scribble some note on the back of someone else’s card to remind myself why I spoke to them.

    For a social or work con, the safest way to maintain your sanity in the vendors’ room is to go in looking for specific things (at comic/SF cons, I’m focused on books or artwork). That keeps me from stopping at every little booth.

    Have fun…at whatever pace you can handle. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      Both, but mostly for fun. Flexibility is typically a little more limited during a business convention. I like the idea of bringing and exchanging business cards. I totally agree about focusing on specific things in a vendors hall. There’s always so much to take in and it can get overwhelming 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Salvageable says:

    Frequent breaks are a must! Fortunately, most conventions break for mid-morning stacks, lunch, and mid-afternoon snacks. Often I’ll skip the food (or grab a quick bite) and then find a quiet spot to recharge. J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ally says:

      That’s a great strategy. Sometimes I’ll bring my own food (mostly due to food sensitivities) and go to recharge. It makes the rest of the day a lot more tolerable 🙂


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