If you know me, you’ll know that I’m not exactly a very outgoing person. I keep to myself. I enjoy silence. Guess you could say I can be a bit of a loner. Even then, it’s nice to be able to try and interact with others from time-to-time. So when it was announced that comedy podcast NSFW Show would be putting on a gathering with musical acts, I figured I’d put in the effort to try going.
If you read about my experience from last year, you’d know it was a failed effort. I made a bunch of noise about being excited about going and whatnot. But once I got there, I kept to myself in a corner and didn’t say a word to anyone. I didn’t want that to happen again.
Fast forward to this year. #SXSoWasted 3 was announced. I had to go.
On the day of the gathering, I thought if I arrived a little early, there would be less people at the bar and I’d be able to easily go up and say hi to others. Arriving 30 minutes early appeared to not have been enough time as the place was already bustling with activity. After getting a glass of water from the bar, I did my usual routine of just hanging out in a corner. Well, as much of a corner as one can get on a rooftop bar.
From my vantage point, I could see a few faces that weren’t at last year’s party. This included Tom Merritt, Veronica Belmont, and Brett Rounsaville. They were playing a Jenga-style game with larger wooden blocks. I took this moment to try standing a little bit closer. Baby steps. I’ll get there.
As the actual start of the party grew closer, I inched closer and closer to the stage to not only get a better view but to hopefully finally get the nerve in me to say “hi” to someone. During this time, everyone I’d would have wanted to say “hi” had already walked passed me. So far, I’m not doing a very good job.
The musical acts were great just like last year. The Possum Posse returned with their great country / bluegrass tunes. (You know. The Guy on a Buffalo guys.) We were also treated to favorite Tay Allyn. (She’s the one that wonders why she never got your mass text.) After ending the music with a live version of “Critter Camp“ (at the insistence of a possibly inebriated Brian Brushwood), it was time for everyone to just hang out.
My main objective at this point was to just try standing in as open of an area as possible as being so close to so many people was starting to get to me. I needed space to breathe. Eventually, I find myself standing next to Tay and Ali Spagnola. (Ali performed a Power Hour at last year’s SXSoWasted.) I’m just standing there looking around trying to get myself to at least say “hi” to fellow chatrealmers when Brian had asked me to take a picture of him and Tay. Interaction! Yes! This will be the moment I say “hi”! After stumbling with the iPhone and nervously hoping I take a good picture, I hand the phone back to Tay and attempt to shake Brian’s hand. Which he didn’t notice. Crap. I slowly pull my hand back in a way like I just did something terribly wrong. Thankfully, Brian realized what I was trying to do and shook my hand. That’s a start!
After standing in the same spot, I finally started to try venturing out. I noticed chatrealmer Jackie Hern across the way, so I figured maybe I’d try going to say “hi” to her. Other people were walking back and forth so I aborted that idea. Tay and Ali were still talking to one another, so I do my best to not be rude and interrupt them. Well, I mean, I am interrupting them but… nevermind. Anyway, I eventually get out some words to them. I sure as hell don’t remember what I said other than being awkward. Tay was incredibly nice and even gave me a hug as did Ali. I wished I knew what I said but either way, two very wonderful ladies for sure.
A common theme you will start to notice here is that I’m just trying to work out the courage to say “hi” to everyone. From that point forward, I have NO idea what I was going to do. I doubt I could even carry on a conversation as I was already crazy nervous. And even then, what would I say? “I like your work…” That’s about all I had. It didn’t matter. Again. Baby steps.
I see now that Jackie was talking to Brett. This seemed like a good time to try saying something. Standing next to them, I wait until what seems like a good point to interject. I finally ask if Jackie was in fact Jackie Hern (because I’d feel stupid if it wasn’t) and introduce myself. She then introduces me to Brett. Even then, I feel stupid anyway since Brett is more well known and I go and say “hi” to Jackie first. Not to say Jackie isn’t known in the land of chatrealm. I really doubt either two care who I said “hi” to first. This is just how my brain works.
Again, most of what is actually said is a blur to me. (If I were drinking, it would probably be even more so.) Later on in the conversation, Jackie asks if I had said “hi” to Brian yet. I explained what had happened earlier. It was then I was pretty much pulled over to where Brian was standing for a better introduction. Again, actual words — blur. I remember Brian taking me over to meet Justin Robert Young.
After Brian introduces me to Justin, Justin introduces me to chatrealmer Shane Rosenkrantz. Shane’s first words to me: “Travis Tubbs?” Okay. In fairness, not a lot of Travis’s hanging around the chatroom and I don’t exactly mask my last name but it still threw me off that someone knew who I was. It turns out Shane had read my post from last year. I’m surprised that anybody did! I just use this as a platform to get my thoughts out for me. The fact people are actually reading it is… weird? It does confuse me for sure.
Nonetheless, I spent most of my time talking (well, more listening than anything) to JuRY and Shane. Once more, all a blur at this point. But one point did stick out, but I’ll touch on that later. To end my whirlwind tour, Justin took me over to greet Tom and Veronica. It wasn’t much of a conversation mainly because I couldn’t get words to come out of my mouth again. But it was still cool to be able to meet them.
At this point, I still wanted to say “hi” to one person and that was chatrealmer Roberto Villegas. He was off talking to a group of other people. It was getting late so I figured I better do so before everyone started disbanding. After my usual awkward introduction, Roberto introduced me to the group he was talking to. Unfortunately, I can only remember Chimaera from the chat room. And even then, as you can see, I can’t even remember his actual name. I still have a lot to work on with this socializing thing.
It was about that time Brian decided it was time for food. Everyone was invited to the meal, which was pretty cool. Unfortunately for me, it was getting dark meaning I needed to head back. Not to mention I only had a few bucks left on me. From what I could tell from pictures and the live stream later that night, it was a incredibly fun time.
The next day, I made my way back to the gaming expo as Tay had invited everyone to go play games. I figured that this might help me work on the socializing thing some more. Once again, I didn’t arrive early enough as the events center lobby was already pretty packed. I do my usual find a corner and wait. Off in the distance, I think I see Zak Holder, another chatrealmer and assistant to Brian. As I didn’t introduce myself the night before, I didn’t feel like making my way through the crowd and bothering him. I didn’t recognize anybody else in the sea of people so I figured I’d just wait until the show floor was open and find them inside.
Once inside, finding Tay seemed much tougher than I thought it would be. I walked up and down all the aisles multiple times for a good hour and not once did I run into her or anyone else in chatrealm. As the gaming expo got more crowded, my anxiety started to kick in. It was time to go.
After spending a couple of days at my brother’s place to rest my legs, I made one more trek to downtown Austin to maybe see if anyone wanted to meet. With only a hour left of juice on my hotspot, I sent out one more tweet to see if anyone was nearby. Roberto was nice enough to stop by and say “hi”. We had a conversation about what it is we do and what we want to do. Considering I’m in limbo with my life, he did provide some advice and suggestions as to what I could do. Even though I would have been okay with just a drink since that fit my budget ($3), he even bought me a sandwich for lunch.
And with that, my time in Austin came to an end. For someone who is very much introverted, it was a lot. But it was a good experience. I still have a lot to work on. This one trip isn’t going to change who I am overnight. I wished I could go to more of these gatherings to work on it more. Well, maybe some smaller ones at first. I’m still not a fan of large crowds. And it’s not just the fact I want to do more gatherings to help me work on my social anxiety but also because the people I met are some of the nicest people on earth. That alone is worth being able to say “hi” to them again.