I live in Utah. Salt Lake City. (yeah I've been raised mormon but I'm gay, I don't believe, complicated family stuff I don't want to talk about because that's not the point)
A couple weeks ago I was able to go to comic-con FanX with a friend and they also got to hear about me and the furry fandom. They totally approved so that was like... amazing.
Anyways. So at fanX there were actually a lot of local furs. Heck there's even a video they all made advertising AWU here in October.
When we went to the City Creek mall across the street for lunch we ran into most of them going to get lunch. I was super nervous but my friend managed to urge me to get a picture with a group of them. It's actually my favorite picture from the entire convention too XD
Thing is I was like... super shy and didn't say anything. And I kinda regret it. We even had lunch nearby them and I was just like... awkward the entire time. And then we even walked back to the convention center. right in the middle of them. I still didn't say anything... I wanted to but didn't want to be cringy. Not to mention they all seemed a bit older than me.
And now I'm here writing this out for no apperent reason other than to feel sorry I didn't say anything.
I tried looking up furmeets and such but I feel like... super nervous to go to one. I've flaunted the idea of sneaking off to AWU in october but again... I'm like worried I'd be one of the youngest people there, and not in suit, and just awkward and not talking to anyone...
how do I get over this...???
Dave (age 16)
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I apologize for the slow response. Life has gotten in the way of my column lately.
First question I would ask you is whether you have Asperger's or some other form of autism, which would, of course, explain your shyness. If not, it would just then be normal shyness, which is something I certainly can relate to, having been in the same boat at your age.
Perhaps it would help to tell you how I got over being so shy: it was while volunteering as a zoo docent that I overcame this problem. Being a zoo docent is great. You learn a lot about wildlife and the science involved, and you also get to handle and work with some pretty interesting critters. I was quite passionate about animals, and once I had confidence that I knew what I was talking about (thanks to the education programs at the Detroit and Potter Park Zoos), I felt comfortable talking to people about wildlife and conservation, even large audiences.
Shyness is really born out of lack of confidence. When you were with those people at the con, you felt self-conscious because many of them were older than you and you were unsure of yourself. You probably felt they all knew more about comics and other things and that you couldn't add to the conversation--you might even set yourself up for mocking if you said something wrong.
It helps a lot, then, to know about what you speak. If you go to Comic-Con, and you know a lot about Batman, the X-Men, why Whiz Comics #2 was significant, and who people like Stan Lee, R. Crumb, and Art Spiegelman are, then you will feel comfortable talking with others about these topics. One way, then, to overcome shyness is this: become well-versed in your preferred subject matter--whether that is comic books or the furry fandom or steampunk or whatever. Know your topic, but be cautious not to be a know-it-all. People don't like you if you act like you know everything and only your opinions are valid.
There is another way to approach and talk to people, and it is kind of the polar opposite of what I just suggested. Instead of chatting merrily on a level playing field with those around you, be okay with not knowing as much and, instead, ask questions! It's a great way to start conversations if you ask people about themselves and the things they enjoy. Compliments go a long way, too (e.g., "Wow! You sure know a lot about the DC multiverse!") Play the role of the interviewer, asking questions of those who are older and more experienced. Along the way, you may find some things you have in common ("Maybe we could play League of Legends sometime?")
So there you have two approaches to overcoming shyness and striking up conversations. Give them a try!
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