On a personal and professional level, this means huge success.
For those of you who haven’t been following along, I was the Special Events Coordinator for GottaCon 2012. This meant that I had to come up with panels, find and invite guests, facilitate their needs, come up with interesting points of discussion, moderate the panels, sit on a couple of panels whilst moderating them, and so much more.
To add an extra layer of pressure to the whole situation, the panels were brought back after a year of not having them. I had to organise everything in such a way that they would be considered successful enough to warrant continuing them in the future. Whether or not I’m the one who continues to organise them is a whole other matter. But the point is, I had to create something interesting and dynamic enough to justify the expense of them in the future. This scared the crap out of me.
Some may find this odd, as my “job” is to create engaging content. I do this every single day. But if I fail in my day-to-day life, I’m not letting anyone down, except for myself. I can walk away from it at any time. I create to please myself first. There are no external pressures. It is a completely different animal when you are hired to create content for others and there has to be some measurable level of success to justify the added cost in the future.
Considering that Evan—one of the GottaCon owners—has stated publicly that you all can expect the panels to continue in the future, then I succeeded in that area.
Then there was the added social pressures of creating, running, moderating and sitting on panels. I’m not social—SURPRISE! I’m not a people person—SURPRISE! I am an individual person, meaning I do great one-on one, IF I’ve had some time to get to know the person. Throw me into a group situation and it takes all of my strength to not fall apart and start banging my head off of some surface. Then add that I have to be social with a panel of people, whilst people watch, GAH!!!!!
I had to spend the final two months leading into the convention to mentally prepare for all the people I was going to be forced to be pleasant with. I had to spent a huge amount of time coming up with coping mechanisms so that I didn’t come off as rude, curt, overly blunt, inappropriate, the rules lawyer, anal retentive, inflexible, self-centered… those who know me well, know exactly of what I’m talking.
Whenever I mention this to people, it surprises them. I have to do a lot of socialising as part of my “job”. I interview people constantly for my radio show. Twice a week, I am talking to people, live on-air, whilst engaging them in chat. But there is a difference there. I don’t have to see them. I’m not sharing the same physical space as them. I can turn every thing off, and those people no longer exist. I have no idea how many people are listening to my shows each week. Yes, I have a way of knowing, but I ignore the numbers. Every time I tweet, post something on Google+ or entertain someone via my various radio shows, in my mind, I could be talking to myself. There is no pressure to pay adherence to social convention. And those who know me well enough, know that I have no time or patience for social convention. It requires months of preparation for me to be able to fake it and behave like one of the humans.
Added to this pressure was the pressure of having to send the guests questions prior to the weekend so that they can prepare answers that won’t make them look stupid. I’ve never had to do this before. Every time I interview anyone, I have a general idea of what I’d like to discuss but I leave it wide open so that the conversation can be just that, an organic chat. I was so very worried that the panels would be lifeless, dry and feel scripted, instead of feeling natural, organic and filled with life
Feedback says that people enjoyed talking with me. They, both the panelist and guests, found the panels fun and engaging. The odd time that I allowed my inner Sheldon Cooper to speak, through the persona I had to create in order to cope with the weekend, people laughed with me—or maybe they were laughing at me and I am too oblivious to such things to notice. I am told, people had fun. I’m still waiting for some negative feedback—because nothing is perfect and there is always room for improvement—but I’ve yet to hear it. So, I suppose it is fair to say that I was successful in the social aspect of the weekend. If this was even three years ago, there is no bloody way that I’d have been able to pull off the social game.
On top of all of that, if that wasn’t enough, I had to create and moderate two panels that were completely outside of my wheelhouse. Those were the two panels in regards to tabletop RPGs. I know very little about that genre of gaming. I know the basics. I certainly do not know enough to talk about tabletop RPGs in an educated fashion. So, creating questions for the panels that would: a) Get a good, organic discussion going; b) Make the panelists look good and like they knew what they were talking about; and c) Be informative, useful and entertaining to those who decided to attend them… this was one of the biggest stresses leading up to the event.
However, I think I pulled it off. In fact, I would say these panels were the most successful. At least from a personal and professional stand point, I found them to be the most rewarding. The other panels were right inside of my wheelhouse, as far as content, so there was no challenge, if we ignore the first two challenges I posted. When I was told there would have to be two RPG panels, I wanted to quit. I did not feel that I was qualified to organise and run such things, and that it was a serious mistake to have me do so. I guess I was the one who was mistaken. Hey! It happens! It isn’t the first time I’ve been mistaken and it certainly will not be the last. The point of this rambling paragraph… I am most pleased with these two panels. They were the biggest challenge I’ve had in a really long time and I did a satisfactory job at them. These are the only two panels where I feel I deserve a pat on the back for doing them.
There were other things leading up to GottaCon that had me unnerved, such as last minute changes—I do not handle change well—illness, fatigue, other areas of my life exploding causing too much to be placed on my plate, and so much more. Preparing for GottaCon 2012 was the longest 8 – 9 months of my life. I put a lot of blood, sweat, tears and heart into this event. Then when GottaCon arrived, I had to pull off all of the above, whilst fighting stress and fatigue from a stressful week of rebuilding my work after a DDoS attack, all on less than 6 hours of sleep per night. Asking me to be social, in the morning, after what I consider no sleep… I was worried.
About a month after I agreed to this job, I nearly quit because I started to doubt my ability. I thought they were foolish for asking me and I thought I was a horrible friend for accepting, as I know damn fine what my limitation are and running this event pushed those limitations harder than I’ve been pushed in a very long time. I honestly did not think I could do it.
After I arrived home last night, the wall I had built during the two months leading up to the event, and fortified the night before I made my journey down to Victoria, came crashing down. There were tears as I couldn’t cope with other people’s personality quirks with the same grace. I went into full-on Sheldon Cooper mode, as it was the only way I could cope with having to deal with my partner—bless him for being able to cope with the meltdown and subsequent regression.
Today, I’m beginning to decompress. I’m still having a more difficult time than normal with sarcasm and rhetorics, plus having great difficulty with how people are communicating with me. I’m extremely short and blunt with people. I have no energy left to fake even the smallest bit of social convention. I am just too damn tired for it.
Despite feeling completely out of sorts, plus being physically and mentally exhausted, despite being worried that it may take me several days to finish analyzing and sorting all of the input from this weekend, I am feeling good. I just finished completing one of the biggest challenges of my life. The outcome was, at a minimum, satisfactory. In my mind, satisfactory is nothing to scoff at and is something to be proud of. I didn’t fail.
I have more to say about the panels and my experiences from the weekend, but my brain is still trying to sort every thing out.
Would I do it next year if I were asked? If I were asked tomorrow, I’d say, “Hell no! There is no way I can do this again. It was just way too much for me to deal with emotionally.” If I were asked in a couple months from now… well, we will just have to wait and see.
Now please excuse me while I finish decompressing the data. Whilst I do so, the result may be more cerebral regurgitation.