Saturday, September 24, 2016

Scott's Introspectrum: How DragonCon Remodelled My Life

Four years ago, I was in Europe, halfway through the trip that was to be more than a pivotal moment in my life. That trip commenced with THIS. Looking back on that post, I still completely understand why I denoted the downtown area of Atlanta during DragonCon as the promised land, although now, I would amend it a bit for accuracy. DragonCon isn't the promised land. It was, and still is, the promised experience.

In 2012, going into my first DragonCon I was 26 years old. My years since the age of 21 or so had been more than a little rough. Not rough in terms of a series of painful experiences, hard times or traumatic incidents, but rough in terms of a dark and persistent malaise of  not belonging. I was deeply insecure. I writhed and contorted in the suit of my own skin that I was so uncomfortable in. I felt unworthy of the great things that I saw people around me enjoying. There was no greater unease for me than literally feeling like "there isn't a place in the world that I fit". I thought things other people here didn't think. I felt things about life, society and the world that I wasn't 'supposed' to feel. I was pretty much the boy in the bubble, surrounded by the things that made me the most comfortable and trying to make myself believe those things were enough justification for a happy life and future.

Saying that a convention full of costumes, celebrities, nerdy dedication to being a fan, fantasy and non-stop partying changed all that seems a little silly. That's because it probably is. In essence, it wasn't the convention itself that changed anything. In essence, the convention as it is would just be a cool experience that was fun but subsided back into the ether of memory as soon as I hit the ground back in Auckland. What changed it from an enjoyable experience to a transformative one was the people. The people who accepted me immediately, no questions asked. The people who were so deeply passionate about the same things I was and in their passion convinced me it was okay to make this my identity; a skin that I could be comfortable in. The people who made me feel not only part of something, but a crucial part of something. The people who made me believe that their lives and their experience would actually be missing something if I wasn't there.

Every year I meet more amazing people, and I take none of them for granted. My life is still blessed thanks to the original power couple Shanon and Patrick who I have no doubt I would have none of this if not for, and who I consider two of my best and most important friends. My life is even blessed by Brian, and I am honored to be his prank guinea pig and foreigner target of choice. I have no doubt I will never beat him, but he makes my never-ending defeats fun nonetheless (and when no one is watching, we're actually pretty tight). This year was no different, and the people I met in 2016 have already had such a changing impact on my life. I should list you all individually, but I believe you know who you are. I think you're all beautiful and amazing people. There is literally none of you who I am not better off with. If you don't know that I love you all, then I have done a horrible job of expressing myself. I take you with me back to my day to day life here, and you help make me a better person.

There are so many aspects of my experience with Con that I could remark on in terms of how they affected me. Getting to costume and temporarily adding a different and fun aspect to my identity based on a character or construct I love is something that I'll probably never be able to explain properly to the work-a-day world. Having strangers come up, tell me I look great and want to take pictures of/with me was a huge boost to my ailing self-worth. Having people of all sorts think I'm a worthwhile and good guy to know was extremely healing. Life changing events have happened to me more than once at Con and have convinced me never to let myself believe I know what the future holds for me, because everything really can change in an instant. Even having two or three big things to look forward to every year provides a model for my life that keeps me motivated and moving forward.

So in the end, four years after my first DragonCon, I can quite literally say it remodelled my life and I'm a happier, better and more fulfilled me because of it all.