It is six thirty in the morning, and my alarm goes off. I open my eyes, stretch a little bit and wake my wife so we can take on the day. After getting ready through normal morning routine, we load into the car and get moving towards downtown Atlanta. After a few turns around some construction we find our parking spot. Once we grab some snacks and double check my equipment we trudge on to the Georgia World Congress Center, the site of MomoCon 2019.
Upon reaching the doors and heading inside, we go and pick up our badges. I take a look around the top, trying to figure out the best way to shoot my opening video. Instead of starting, we venture down another level to find a line starting, waiting for the next hour when the vendor area will open. My wife and I look for the press room but it is not open, so it is time to sit at a table and wait. That is when it happens.
It is like any regular day for me honestly, and I hope you see that in my above description. But because of social anxiety when I take one look at the growing line, I am suddenly overwhelmed. I do not know where to move forward and the plans I am laying out in my mind of how to put together a great video for you, the reader, turn to mush in my head. My wife looks at me quizzically, wondering just why my countenance has fallen.
Have you ever been here before? I know I am not the only gamer, con-goer, or person in general that deals with some form of social anxiety. In this line of work it is a bit easier because I can hide behind a keyboard. My issue comes when a real life event needs coverage. In my head I logically determine what steps to take, but from there the anxiety of the crowd blinds me.
I know you are there with me. But I am here to tell you that this is something you can overcome. My wife knows my issues and sprang into action, talking to me and helping me think clearly even in the fog holding me back. She went over to people, asking for photos and video clips. She helped me navigate through crowds when everything was packed. I know not every one of you are married, but we each have a friend we can trust, and that person should be with us in those moments.
By 11am I am back on my feet. We are moving through crowds. I am taking pictures and video again, chronicling my experiences. I am able to put aside everything else and go into the press room. After all that worrying, I interview several people and I am able to think through any mistakes I make. We manage to make it through multiple panels and after a 12 hour day go back to our room.
The second day goes even better. I do not end up recording exactly what I want to start a video with, but I come to terms with that. As someone who deals with social anxiety, it is okay to say you are not ready to take some steps. I did not take that one, but I took a few others. Interviewing Kodak of the Atlanta Reign OverWatch esports team is a huge step for me. In the midst of all of that we make a new contact not only with a professional esports team, but someone with Xbox who notices me.
Mental exhaustion is the perfect description for twenty hours stuck in a huge convention hall. But I made it. I am here as an example that social anxiety does not have to hold you back. Trusting my abilities and my wife I had a great time at MomoCon 2019, doing a bunch of things I have only dreamed of. By the end, I walked up to people myself asking for photos.
That is something that never would have happened if I let social anxiety control me in those opening moments of my first convention as press. I hope you never let your anxiety keep you back as well. Take care of your mental health, but do not let it be a crutch. You are amazing and can overcome your circumstances.