Before I get into my experience attending Teen Book Con 2017 for my first (and probably last) time, I need to address my awkwardness.
One of the main reasons why I wanted to initially go the self-publishing route was because I wanted the control. I wanted to determine what date I could release a book, determine my own costs, and decide what type of events I wanted to attend.
I imagined myself in an intimate setting with low-lighting, jazz music, and tables full of goodies. No, I am not trying to put on a wedding or be an event planner, I was just thinking about mood and ambiance for a personal talk.
Then, I attended Teen Book Con. The place was packed, folks sitting on the floor and leaning on the walls because all the seats were taken. It was a place where it was easy to come into contact with people who didn't get the "personal space" memo. And don't get me started on the whole author signing experience. I felt like I was caught up in the rapture of a Black Friday madhouse.
I also took notice of the authors themselves. There were many personable ones like Angie Thomas, who I've written about before. She was super sweet and answered all the questions on the panel with so much insight and personality. There were others who stood out to me as well like Bill Konigsberg, whose raw emotion warmed my spirit.
However, I couldn't help but to think about the authors who are like me. Who, behind their smiles and shiny eyes, felt overwhelmed by it all.
I think this is one of my biggest struggles as someone aspiring to be a traditionally published author. I'm not sure if I'm ready for the public aspect of it. I've always struggled with this tremendously. I get antsy when a crowd of people closes in too tight. It starts getting hot and I'm ready to make an escape. I don't know how I would've felt being put on the spot, forced to play in a game show type event when I'm more reserved and in my shell.
Some would find this a weakness, but like I said yesterday:
I give myself permission to be my ol' awkward self.
I admit. I'm not the greatest person when it comes to soft skills. Never ever had them. I was unfortunately labeled "stuck up" in high school because I didn't say much at times. But, it wasn't because I didn't want to; I just didn't know how to without feeling like I was making a fool out of myself. I know the root of that is not wanting to feel rejection and some insecurity, but I do believe that there's always room of improvement and self-development.
I haven't figured out what I will do in the near future. I am not the fondest of crowds, loud things (that sounds so party-pooperish), and small talk. I just suck at it. That's okay. We all have something we can improve on.
Like right now, just sitting here listening to Moonlight Sonata with giant studio headphones on my ears typing away is like heaven on earth to me. But, a standing room only music festival with thousands of people surrounding me is not exactly my definition of a good time.
I totally understand that we must step outside of our comfort zones and have more faith and confidence in ourselves to experience things we would otherwise shut ourselves off from. But, it's a slow process. It's step by step. Day by day. A fresh start over. A different hand to play (okay, if you don't know where that's from, we can't hang out lol).
At any rate, I'm going to accept myself for who I am. I am:
Quiet and reserved around strangers
Silly around people who know me
A certifiable book nerd
A proud 90s kid
A deep thinker
Full of joy and peace
Fearfully and wonderfully made
So much more