No, I am not afraid of comic conventions, as the title may suggest. I just couldn’t think of a better header.
What I am afraid of is speaking in front of a large group of people at public events. This is because I really, truly do not like drawing a lot of attention to myself. –insert pause for those of you who are close to me to roll your eyes–
I’m not sure why, but this is apparently very hard for others to believe. I remember two Thanksgivings ago when I was with my parents, close family, and best friend back in Virginia. We were seated around the dinner table having a grand ol’ time until the conversation became centered on me, as it so often does. NOT because I crave attention; I just always end up saying really stupid things that catch everyone off guard. Well, I forget most of the conversation, but I do remember making a comment about not liking to draw attention to myself, and everyone just exploded with laughter. Literally exploded… like I had just said the funniest joke to ever be said in the history of stand up comedy. I did not like that one bit. So of course I repeated myself, trying to convince everyone, including myself at this point, that I really do not enjoy attention. My family just laughed even more. I looked around for support. NONE. I was so damn mad. I don’t think I talked to anyone the rest of the night.
The moral of that story is that Thanksgiving is now my least favorite holiday.
I will state it again here in writing, so that no one may ever argue it again. I, Philip Haros, have never and will never enjoy bringing large amounts of attention to myself. If people are naturally drawn to my effervescent personality and charming smile, that’s their problem. The only reason I’m so willing to keep this blog and share so much about myself is because I love writing and reading the works of other bloggers so much.
Now I’ve gotten so off topic that I don’t even remember the point of this post anymore. Oh yea, Fear.
I will never forget the fateful day. Thor greeted me as I walked into the room. I was officially one of the heroes, granted an exclusive pass into the superhero megabase headquarters of Chicago. Oh no an intruder! One of those weird robotic things from Doctor Who snuck his way in and was rampaging down the hallways. I shielded my body and hid as not 1, but 24 Captain Americas pounced from hidden crevices to dismantle the foe. Suddenly Princess Fiona from Shrek…Pincess Fiona? Why is she here? I mouth to myself astonished.
And so my time at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) commenced.
I’m a big fan of pretty much any new experience in life. So, when my friend Nick invited me to the convention, I was thrilled. I’d been to an anime convention once before, so my expectations were pretty high. I’m too lame to come up with an oufit, so I wore a button up and blue vest with my favorite red ball cap. If anyone asked who I was, I could lie and say an adult Ash Ketchum. Perfect! There were toy booths and artists and comic stalls set up everywhere with their wares. It took hours to see everything.
Nick really wanted to attend a panel where authors would be talking about the use of homosexuality in their fiction, but we went into the wrong room (go figure). It ended up being a panel on the use of magic in sic-fi and fantasy novels. I was pretty excited that we got to see this panel instead as it is a subject that greatly relates to me. I was so excited to have these great authors in front of me that I couldn’t stop daydreaming about asking them to explain in full detail how they reached such success. I knew there would most likely be a question and answer segment at the end, and a part of me really wanted to participate. The problem is, I’m deathly afraid of situations such as this. (We’re finally back to the point of this blog post.) What if my question was stupid? Or I stuttered? Or worst of all, that weird thing where I get saliva caught in my throat and my voice comes out really phlegmy and low happens? I told myself that this was my one chance to force myself out of my comfort zone and ask these accomplished writers a question.
The time came and I raised my hand! I wasn’t picked. There was only time for one more question. I shot my arm up, probably a little too enthusiastically. This time I was picked. Oh Shit. I gathered my voice and asked, “What do you find more memorable, a great hero or a great villain?”
One of the two female authors was confused by my question. “Are you asking for an example or..?”
Oh great, fucked it up, I thought. Luckily, the author who wrote the movie Sinister, Christopher Robert Cargill, spoke up to explain to her. I knew it wasn’t a difficult question. The female author answered that heroes are way better because villains are too static of characters. I could tell that would be her answer from how she described her writing. Not satisfied with her response, my excitement grew as Cargill jumped in, enthusiastically disagreeing with her opinion. He is a fan of villains, like myself. I nodded along with his words, pretending we were the only two in the room. Old buddies having a chat. A third author gave his opinion, but I was foaming at the mouth from my excitement by this point, and I was hardly paying attention. The panel ended and I spent the next hour asking Nick repeatedly, “How did I do? Was my question stupid? Did I mumble? Did you understand what I was asking? Are you SURE I didn’t sound stupid?”
It might seem like a small deal, but I am proud of myself. All it took was one time to break through a boundary, and now I feel like I could speak up in public with little hesitation. I mean I’ll have to test it sometime, but as long as I feel that way, I’m good.
I urge everyone who is reading this, choose a fear and challenge it head on. It’s a pretty empowering feeling even if you come off looking like an idiot. After all, as my friend Nick so kindly pointed out to me, human attention spans are only so long, no one will remember you two minutes later anyway.