Do you suffer from social anxiety? Do you wish you could go to Comic Con, but decide not to, because you are worried your anxiety may ruin the experience for you? It the answer is yes, then this guide is for you.
The First Step is to remember that you are not alone.
I ,and several others, also suffer from social anxiety and to us the road to Comic Con is a daunting one, but I also think that many of us will agree that when we finally arrive at Comic Con, we have never felt more at home. At Comic Con, you will be surrounded by everything you love and people who love those same things. These are your people and you will have nothing to be afraid of.
The Second Step is to plan ahead; very, very far ahead.
There are hundreds of Comic Cons that happen around the world, with some research, you should be able to find one that happens relatively close to you. Wizard World Comic Con is a good place to start, if you are in the United States.
Find the dates of the Con, if it is happening in less than six months; plan on going the next year. A year is about how long it will take to save enough money for tickets, photo-ops, autographs, trinkets and, if desired, a costume.
The Third Step is to give yourself time to enjoy the Con
I suggest that you buy the weekend pass. This will allow you to divide the events you wish to attend between two or three days, and trust me, you want to do this. Lines for autographs and photo-ops are long (think Black Friday sales lines) and can take an hour or even hours to get through. This can depend on the size of the Con and the popularity of the celebrity, but I would be prepared for standing for long periods of time in a line that may or may not be moving.
This also gives you time at the beginning of each day to just walk the convention floor. I find that when I am in a new place, it helps to just walk around for a few minutes and look around. This way my mind can adjust to the new atmosphere. Take the time to just walk and look around, let your mind adjust to everything that is going on. Then decide which line you want to stand in.
Be sure to check when the events you want to attend will be happening so you can give yourself enough time to get to each, relieving unnecessary stress. Also make sure to get to the convention center early, lines to get into the Con can be very long as well and could possibly make you late to an event.
What to Expect
Expect it to be loud. There will thousands of people talking over each other and over music and promotional videos. This is honestly the most overwhelming part of Comic Con for me. It is like the scene in some movies where the person is panicking and you hear all the voices swirling around them and building until they freak out. Even remembering it makes me feel anxious, but, deep breath. Deep breaths until you calm down, and if you need to, find a quiet place (the bathroom can be a good option, unless it is crowded), you may have to leave the Con to find such a place.
There will be a lot of people. The convention center will be packed. This may also depend on the size of the Con, but still expect there to be more people than you are used to. What can you do? Get a map of the floor, so you know where you are going, and as much as possible, move with the flow of the crowd. Moving with the crowd means you aren’t having to fight the current to get to where you are going, which will be less stressful for you. If you begin to feel overwhelmed, try stepping off at one of the vendors and hanging out there for a minute or two.
There will be people who talk to you. Don’t worry, they will be friendly. Most likely they will be trying to figure out where they are going or they will be commenting on the line, or just so excited to meet their hero that they have to talk to someone.
If this sounds terrifying, don’t worry, you can also expect to have fun. You will get to meet the actors and actresses you admire, take a picture with them, get their autograph shake their hand, it will be worth it! Roam through the vendors; you could find that one item you haven’t been able find anywhere else. And don’t forget to check out the writers and artists, maybe you will find something new to be a fan of.
Bring a friend. Comic Con is something that should be shared to begin with, but for the socially anxious person having a friend along also means having a support system; someone who can help you find a quiet place to unwind when you are overwhelmed, or to help you keep track of time so are less anxious about getting to each event on time.
You may think it best for you to wear a costume; in a costume you can be someone else, someone who is not anxious, but I do want you to keep one thing in mind; if you wear a costume, people will want to take pictures of you/ with you. You will have to decide if you will be comfortable with that or not.
I hope this helps you feel ready to attend Comic Con. If you have any questions or if you think there is something I could add to this post, please visit the contact page and leave a comment.