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?

What are you doing this weekend?

friends chattingMy weekends are relaxing. I spend hours alone recharging. I use my quiet time to prepare for the upcoming week. My weekend is like the eye of a storm. Its a small quiet moment of reflection before the work week starts again and things get busy.

But this weekend is going to be a little different. I’m going to be attending a local comic/pop culture convention and I’m super excited. Yes, I’m introverted and highly sensitive to stimulus. Yes, the whole place is going to be packed full of people. Yes, its going to be extremely draining. But I’m still very excited to go.

Introverts often willingly put themselves in situations that will drain them. I’m more than willing to do things that drain me IF its for something or someone I love. I will go shopping with friends because I want to spend time with them (I just need some quiet time once I get home). I’m willing to go to a noisy convention because I enjoy the art and culture of the event (I just make sure to take breaks when I need them). Even though introverts don’t get the energy high from social interaction, it doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy doing things. I may not have plans most weekends, but when I do, its going to be something I really want to do. Something I’m passionate about. And it’s a lot of fun.

But I’m not going unprepared. I’m bringing snacks and water. I know where all the bathrooms are, should I need a quick break. And I’m going with one of my best friends. So even though I will be tired and drained afterwards, I’m also looking forward to it!

What are your plans for the weekend?

Image credit: “Fun times” by Elis Alves is licensed under CC by 2.0

An introvert at a convention

Group of friendsA few times this year, I’ve gone to local comic and pop culture conventions. It’s been a lot of fun, but is a very draining environment as its filled with tons of people and stimulation wherever you look. Here are a few things that help me to enjoy my convention experiences. I hope it helps.

1. Try to recharge the day before you go. If possible, spend a quiet day by yourself, or try to work in a few solid hours the night before that you can spend reading, or whatever you do to recharge.

2. Eat a good breakfast/lunch before you go. I know that I feel so much better when I’m not running on empty. I also suggest bringing a water bottle and some snacks. Convention food is usually more expensive and can be unhealthy. I like to bring granola or protein bars, and something fresh like an apple or some veggies.

3. Be sure to take snack/drink breaks. If you’re starting to feel overwhelmed, find a quieter place to sit and have a quick bite to eat. I like to go for a short walk outside (if the weather is nice) and find a spot of grass to relax on while I refuel.

4. Take bathroom breaks if you’re feeling overwhelmed. I do this all the time. If the crowds are starting to get to me, I’ll slip into the bathroom for a few moments of peace.

5. Plan out what you really want to do, then forget the rest. Most conventions have a timetable or schedule of events and panels. Decide which ones you really want to see and which ones you might want to see and plan your day around them. There’s nothing wrong with checking out a few things in the morning and then coming back in the evening for another interesting panel. You are not obligated to stay at the convention for 14 straight hours. You can leave and come back.

6. Take a friend with you that’s excited to be there. It’s so much fun to go to a convention with your friends. Surrounding yourself with people who are enjoying themselves makes it even more enjoyable for you. Having another introvert with you will make it easier to take breaks, but an extroverted friend is fun too! Just make sure you take breaks if you need.

7. Only go to the dealers hall (or really crowded areas) when you are full of energy. Personally, I try to go earlier in the day before the throngs of people show up. And dragging yourself around while feeling overwhelmed is not fun at all.

8. Walk around the edges of the room or hall, rather than through the middle. This is especially true when there is a packed hallway or hall. I always walk along the wall, rather than being squished by a bunch of people I don’t know.

Attending conventions is a ton of fun. Try to monitor how much energy you have and take breaks when needed.

What are some of your tips to survive conventions or group activities?

Image credit: “Grupo” by Danilo Urbina is licensed under CC by 2.0