Random ramble: Why a paranoid introvert and too much time to think is not a good combination…

So. It’s now 10th July. That means that in ten days time I, like many of my blogging and writing friends, and other assorted Crime Writers and crime fiction aficionados, will be winging my way to Harrogate for the Old Perculier Crime Writing Festival.

I should by now be totally excited, getting pumped up and thinking of all the fun things I will see and do and all the fabulous people I will meet. I certainly see the excitement building on Facebook, see people arranging to meet, talking of meals, drinks, just generally catching up and chatting. That should get me excited. I’m going to some blogger thing with Orion on the Friday. No idea what it is but that should get me excited. I’ve been invited to join a meal out on the Saturday night too. Now, as I’m travelling on my own, that should at least make me feel happy. One night of none billy-tude at least.

Yeah. Not so much. Right now I feel flatter than Judge Doom after the steamroller scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I am giving serious consideration as to how I can back out of going, or at least how easy it will be to slip between events without being noticed. It’s a very popular festival so that shouldn’t be too hard. And people will be having too much fun to notice anyhow.

If I’m honest, I’m feeling a little bit sick.

Now I made my mini CrimeFest melt down public, and my thanks to people for the support after it. I wasn’t fishing for sympathy then and I’m not fishing now. People probably think I’m in a better place having gone to Crime In The Court the other week, and I keep travelling the country on my own without issue so why should this be different? Well, to be fair, Crime In The Court was more luck that judgment. And I am determined to keep challenging myself in that way until I grow a backbone and develop a little confidence.

But Harrogate? Well Harrogate is huge.

It’s only really when watching the on line banter and excitement building that you realise just how much so. Everyone is so excited to be seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Me? I’m wondering how best to avoid being in people’s way.

I may come across as confident on line. I try not to take myself too seriously when it comes to blogging. I have a big job which needs me to be serious enough Monday to Friday. Blogging is my escape. Hiding behind a computer screen gives me a sort of man of steel style feeling of invincibility, knowing that even if I make a complete dick of myself, I don’t have to face people after. However interacting with others… that’s my Kryptonite.

You can’t hide who you are in a face to face. I’ve spent most of my life, some nearly 42 years now, feeling thoroughly inadequate. Nothing exposes that more than being in a group of strangers. I have nothing to add, nothing to contribute, and I feel like a burden. The person who has to be acknowledged as it’s the nice thing to do.

I know people, bloggers especially, are not like that, not that shallow, but that is the wonder of the paranoid personality isn’t it. To constantly feel judged and found lacking. It is also down to upbringing as if you are told often enough you’re worth jack, you tend to believe it. When you then spend your whole adult life hiding from people who may attempt to convince you otherwise then that feeling never goes away. There isn’t any aspect of my life I am not constantly second guessing and doubting, no matter how confident I may appear. Smoke and mirrors. The master of illusion, that’s me.

And that is why social media is a dangerous thing. You see the friendships and the companionship which is rife and know that can never be you because you can’t be that person. You see people talking about events they are going to and know that won’t be you either because you will only ever be the anonymous blogger. People think I’m ‘well known’ but in truth I’m really not. I never self publicise or push my blog. I will never approach people or request friendships on Facebook, not because I don’t like the person, merely because I don’t want them to feel obliged to accept when they don’t even really know me.

I will never be the person I portray online. I don’t have it in me. I can laugh and joke when on social media because that is simply words on a page. In real life? Well right now the idea of going to Harrogate is making me itch so badly that I want to scratch every inch of my skin off. Probably just as well I’m a chronic nail biter as once I start I can’t stop lol. Not crying right now but I can feel the melancholy setting it so just give me time… maybe ten days…

Give me that ten days and I’ll be a wreck. While I’m away I’ll be obsessing over every possible thing that could go wrong at home and at work while I’m not there. At least double checking my work email thirty or forty times a day will take my mind off feeling like an outsider. The imposter – the fake in bloggers clothing.

Like I said. Too much time to think…

I have no doubt I will go, if only because I will be nagged to death by my sisters if I back out now. I’ve no doubt I will have a good time at the panels I do attend. I’m also pretty certain I will leave as anonymous as I am when I arrive.

If all else fails I can catch up on my reading.

Could be worse.

Thanks for listening folks. My therapy continues 😉

JL

32 thoughts on “Random ramble: Why a paranoid introvert and too much time to think is not a good combination…

  1. Christine

    Hey, JL, you can be sure there are others just like you out there. I had a great childhood, so don’t know why I ended up such an introvert. But if I were headed to Harrogate, I would be harboring some of the same thoughts as you. Major props to you for making yourself go anyway. Sending you lots of cyber-courage from across the pond. XO

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  2. mgriffiths163

    You can do this sis. I have every faith in you. At the end of the day you are going because you are interested in what people have to say and you love the work they do..I have been to some of these events with you and see how much you enjoy yourself once there. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone is good for you according to the experts… but then again they clearly don’t have that problem and some of these experts talk out of their collective buttholes half the time if you ask me. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself to put yourself out there as I know you and the more you try to force yourself to do something the more you will do the exact opposite. Having seen the support you get from a lot of the other bloggers and authors you will be fine and if you don’t feel like doing anything in the evenings that’s fine too. LIke you say you can always read or talk your panic attacks through with me.. I never sleep either. Each event you attend is a small victory even if it doesn’t feel like it. And yes this is a small type of nag but only because I also know that if you don’t go you will be harder on yourself than if you do go..

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  3. Yes, Harrogate is a big event. I can’t compare it with the others because it is the only one I’ve been to. But it is only big if you want it to be. Many, many people spend time on the periphery, I am one of these, I will speak to people if I recognise them but I go to the panels. Because there, everybody is anonymous. Last year, and the year before somebody I follow in social media recognised me and said hello. And I’m stood there like a lemon, trying to work out who they were.
    I’m sure you will go. I’m sure you will have a good time. There are places to sit and read or people watch if you want them. Just like there are places to be a social bunny if you want,
    And if you want to see it before it all kicks off, a great time is Thursday afternoon. We get there for 2ish, collect our goody bags, have a coffee and watch all the authors meet up. It really is wonderful.

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  4. Having spent time with you at CrimeFest, I can assure you that you are funny in real life. I’m an introvert too and I wouldn’t have coped at CrimeFest without Vicki. So make sure there are a couple of people you can hook up with. And when you feel you want to bolt, tell yourself 5 more minutes – you never know who you might chat to in that time. And if you need some time out, take it and write more of your brilliant spoof!

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    1. Lol. Thank you. I’m sure I will make it through but as the day grows nearer so the apprehension grows. If all else fails I’ll go book shopping. Cause it’s not like I have enough 😉

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  5. You will be fine!!! I am exactly the same as you always full of chat etc online but in real life I am so nervous and shy. Before the Bloggers Bash I had chatted to some of the people going online and I’m still convinced that I was a HUGE disappointment once they met me in the flesh. I just wish I could be the outgoing and funny person I am online in real life!!! Abbie is nervous as hell as well and I’ve told her not to worry. Having been last year you can be as involved as you want and sometimes there is a calm satisfaction in just sitting back and people watching as Steph mentioned (and I think that was me last year who spotted her and went to say hello!!! 😂😂😂) We are all in the same boat just some paddle harder than others 😘😘

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    1. Thanks Jo. It is very hard. So many established friendships that always just feel in the way even thinking of lurking. Worst case I’m staying in a posh hotel. I can always hide there 😉

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  6. I have all faith that you have it in you to make this experience a good one. You are definitely not alone in feeling that you can be fun and have fun online, but when it becomes real, suddenly you’re back to being the weird, inadequate self you’ve felt you’ve been forever, but the great thing about book bloggers is that most of them know, understand, and are so friendly. Now this made me want to hug you and tell you everything will be okay. You just have to show up, and I only wish you could see yourself through our eyes, where you are a wonderful and hilarious person, to get the confidence you need to be fully at ease there. I’d be super nervous, mortified and totally afraid of not belonging, but you do have your place there, you fabulous blogger and person 🙂

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  7. If you can joke and laugh online, that means you have it in you and that IS who you are ;-). You are going to be fine and you’ll be so glad you did this and you’ll have so much to tell afterwards! That said I’d love to go to an event in London just once.. it’s on my bucket list but I don’t know how to achieve it just yet.. I really admire you doing it!

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    1. You’re probably right Emma. But to be fair you guys always seem far more confident and certain. All smoke and mirrors I’m sure. It’s a tough game this social media stuff huh?

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      1. I’ll be clinging onto Jo and Claire and hoping they introduce me to people. I would say you’re a lot more confident than me (but I’ve told you that before). I could never jump in my car and travel around the country like you do. NEVER!

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      2. You can cling all you want! But you will end up talking to loads of different people and have such a good time that by Sunday you will wonder what you were ever worried about and be booking your 2018 hotel!! Xxx

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  8. I went to my first official event as a blogger last week – Noir at the Bar. Nowhere near as big as Harrogate of course. Good luck – enjoy it – take deep breaths. Knowing other people who are also going is a big help!

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    1. Glad you had a great night. I think for me the problem is the difference between knowing ‘of’ people who are going and actually knowing people. Never want to foist myself on others so I stay in the shadows. It’s not that scary there when you get used to it. I think inmost be part vampire as it’s being out in the light that freaks me out.

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  9. My first ‘festival’ and I can assure you, I’ll be lurking in the background. I may or may not be with a friend for moral support at this stage, but the thought of approaching people, especially if they’re in a group scares the hell out of me. I know I hide behind my keyboard, I can be vocal on social media purely because no-one knows me. You won’t be alone Jen x

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  10. I think your feelings are very common amongst us bookish folk. I’m pretty loud online but the first events that I went to almost killed me. I went to a book launch, on my own in London – I found myself standing next to Mark Billingham. I freaked, went to the loo, vomited and scarpered back to Kings Cross where I sat for two hours, waiting for meme train. It does get easier, I promise. I’m always a bit worried about approaching people that I’ve only met online, but Harrogate last year was so friendly and informal. My problem is that I can write what I want to say far better that I can actually speak it, and I tend to say stupid things to cover that up. I do hope that you go to Harrogate, you will be made welcome xx

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    1. Thanks Anne. It’s a bugger all the self doubt isn’t it. Stupid thing is I still feel like somewhere between a compete fraud and a complete outsider which I know is daft as no one has done anything to make me feel that way. I’ve felt in the way my whole life so it’s hard to try and interact and I’m used to having more regrets than proud moments. I think I’m suffering from the dreaded blogger doubts too, probably too tired, as nothing I do feels good enough any more, like I’m spamming my own news feed lol. Fear and paranoia is scary stuff but I know not trying feels even worse.

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  11. Jacob Collins

    I understand what you’re talking about. Sometimes I really have to push myself to go to these events and I certainly wouldn’t have done it a couple of years ago on my own but the more you do go, the more confidence it gives you. Having met you before at a couple of events, I’m sure you’ll be fine, I only wish I was going to Harrogate this year, next year I’ll definetely be there, I hope you have a great time.

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