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.

4 comments:

  1. You amaze me. You are intelligent, well spoken, well read, understand manners and etiquette, are a good listener, and truly find value in the people you surround yourself with. The world would be a better place if there were more people like you. I am a better person because I can count you among my friends.

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  2. All I can say is... You're welcome. ��
    Just kidding. It has definitely been a two way street. We have both benefited in many ways from our friendship. I'm so happy that you took that chance 4 years ago and stopped by the event that I said would "change your life". And it did. For the better.
    You've pretty much summed it up as best as anyone could. It is hard to express how these things motivate us. It does sound weird and unusual "on paper". But who cares? The ones that understand are right there next to us, year after year, sometimes multiple times a year. And you know what? We have way more fun than those non-believers can ever imagine having in their mundane lives.

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