• mshaltry

Overcoming Anxiety Through Community

Updated: Oct 15, 2018

Picture of woman holding badge
Exciting times at Gen Con!

I’m new to the whole Table Top Roleplaying world. I got involved less than a year ago when my fiancé and his long-time friends and D&D buddies decided to begin recording their games and producing an actual-play podcast. This would be a more time-intensive commitment than the once-weekly campaign they had been playing for years prior, so I figured, if I wanted to see my fiancé during this project, I had better become a part of it. So now, I play D&D. I am an incredibly adorable Level 2 Goblin Sorcerer, and though I tell an interesting story, I am not what one might call “the best” at the 5e mechanics (I throw “5e” in there to prove I have a vague understanding of what I’m talking about—not, by any means, to insinuate that I would be any better at the 1-4e mechanics).

Then, there’s my fiancé.

While I am still trying to remember which one is the d6 (yup!) my fiancé knows everything there is to know about the games. He can tell you all about the key players in the industry, the evolution of the stories, the rules, the politics, the spells, and how to build an un-killable character. On top of all of that, he can weave a story better than any other. Just watch or listen to one of his games—you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll succumb to the whims of Cthulhu.

So, when he told me he wanted to pack up the car and drive to Indianapolis for Gen Con—the largest tabletop gaming convention in North America— I was admittedly a little anxious.

I remember thinking to myself, “You want me—Little Miss Knows NOTHING about D&D, let alone any of these other games, to go rub elbows with gamers, cosplayers, creators, writers, designers, and influencers?”

This is a blog about my Gen Con experience, so as you have most likely guessed, I attended. I lived through it. But still, writing this months later, I’m getting a little sweaty thinking about how nervous I was.

Nonetheless, I packed my nerves in my overnight bag and threw caution to the wind because… it’s good for me. Getting out of one’s comfort zone helps one grow. I recommend it!

And, I’m here today to tell you, despite the anxiety— IT WAS AWESOME!!! There was beautiful cosplay and gamers of all ages. We checked out so many products and books and projects that creators were incredibly passionate about. And we met so many amazing people!

People playing board games

One morning, we play tested a game that is still in development. My fiancé, two of our friends, fellow D&D podcasters who we met that morning, the game’s creator and I sat around a table for hours creating a story that had never before been heard and would never be heard again—truly a once in a lifetime experience! I sheepishly admitted to the table that I knew nothing about roleplaying games. They were all so supportive and encouraging. The VERY patient game creator (THE CREATOR!!!) assured me that I was exactly the type of tester he needed providing feedback.

I got over that hurdle. Now to the part I was most apprehensive about.

My fiancé plays a number of games professionally online with roleplayers from all over the world. Gen Con provided us the opportunity to meet many of his fellow gamers face-to-face for the first time; we would even have the chance to record an episode of our podcast with two of these players as guest stars.

My fiancé was excited. I, too, was excited (challenging myself, remember?) but also, simultaneously, home-brewing my own proprietary blend of adrenaline and stomach acid. In my mildly-self-abusive mind, I was certain these players would reveal me for the imposter I am. For days leading up to Gen Con I heard taunts and jeers…

“She knows nothing of D&D!! IMPOSTER! Who let her into the convention hall?! SECURITY!!”

I saw villagers with pitchforks running me out of Indianapolis. My overactive imagination, which lends itself to roleplaying, can often wreak havoc on my preconceived notions of social situations.

Matthew Lillard and a fan
Matthew Lillard and I

But, as we’ve established, I lived to write this blog, so… no angry mobs (that I met, anyway). No. Those that I met welcomed me to their tables with open arms. We shared laughs and drinks and gluten-free buns on late night burgers. We all came together to game and have fun! And the two that we recorded with were the kindest, most generous people a gal could ask for. In fact, we’re all making plans to meet up again on our home turf of Columbus, OH for Origins 2019.

So, what started as a super nerve-wracking event ended up being an absolutely incredible weekend filled with new experiences and new friends. If you’re like me, getting out of your comfort zone can often be intimidating, but challenging one’s self with new experiences is the best way to grow… and of the many new experiences that I have challenged myself with, Geek Travel is, by far, the most rewarding! I’m glad I leveled up!

(Special thanks to @Umbralwalker and the crew at Descent Into Midnight for allowing this novice the opportunity to provide feedback on your amazing game, @LaughLoveLindy and @GrimJack21502 for becoming my instant friends and a part of “our Tribe”, the cast of @DiceTribe for your patience while teaching me which one the d6 is, and most of all, my ridiculously talented fiancé, @DonathinFrye for always encouraging me to throw caution to the wind. “5e” stands for “5th Edition”… I know things.

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