Hello, my name is Alainna and I am an introvert. A lot of people I meet probably don’t ever see that, or may argue with me about that, and this is why: because I’m trying NOT to be! No joke, there are plenty of people out there who are secretly introverts, who have that social anxiety who would rather not deal with the panic attacks and unsureness of interacting with other people. I have these feelings with my own family sometimes. My best friend drew me out of my shell when we were in high school but it took years and it’s only just allowed me to WANT to be an extrovert. Which means, every day, I talk to new people. I talk to people I just met the day before who I probably only spoke with for a few minutes, maybe I don’t even remember your name because I was in the middle of an internal crisis and didn’t want you to see it and my brain couldn’t handle the energy it took to retain the information of your name. Here’s how I try to fight these feelings...oh, and before you ask, yes, I’m on meds. LOL Many of you know I
I am currently on a good strength of anxiety meds to manage at home stress, so this shouldn’t still be a problem.
I’ll give you all a little background before I really delve into how the last four days went at ATX Television Festival.
Background: You already know I met my friend in high school. I barely said a word to her and she sat nex to me in two classes (I think it was two). I literally said ONE single word to her when we first met, and it was “Manatee.” The story is just as funny and you imagine it to be. Now, flash forward a little bit. We are now friends, standing out the movie theatre and she turns to me and asks, “What do you want to see?” I do my usual, shrug and said, “Whatever you want.” She shakes her head and tells me firmly, “No. We are watching whatever YOU want, so pick.” Mind you, she wasn’t mad at me, she wanted me to make a choice for myself. Be my own person, and for that, I am so grateful for. I forgot what movie we saw that day, but it was something I picked out. 😊 During high school, I would have mini breakdowns if things were organized in my room before I went to bed. Nothing crazy, just anything out of order needed to be put back. Dirty clothes, clean clothes, all had to be put in their place, closet/hamper. Stacks of VHS tapes to record Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all needed to be put away if I knocked the stack over when getting dressed that morning. You get the idea.
Background II: Flashforward to right after college, I bough a house and moved to Missouri where my friend lived, I needed to get out of my parents house. I’m 24 years old, having took time to travel the world, work and go to school. Graduated and wanted a dog, so here we are. I worked with this dude that had no filter and did NOT do his job. It stressed me out to the max. Doctor gave me my first dose of Celexa and it was great. While on it, I had no issues being the first one out on the dance floor at the club. I’d introduce myself to people first. I would walk up to people and ask a question rather than make someone else do it for me, or just continue to get lost or figure it out on my own. I realized that I can do these things and NOT DIE! The world never ended when I talked to a guy, even though it still made my heart pound like crazy. So when I had to go off it when I got pregnant (which was a bad idea but that’s a different blog post) I kept that in mind whenever I was around new people. I FORCED myself to get over the fear, hesitations and reservations to approach people and interact with them. I hand a mantra of ”don’t live in the dark” because that’s where I would be if I didn’t make myself do these things. I wouldn’t have tried screenwriting if I hadn’t told myself that all the immediate thoughts of “I’m not a good enough writer” were bullshit and to do it anyways. I still had to call my best friend and have her assure me, and that’s ok. The fact that I did it anyways is still pretty big for me, I feel.
Now, here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. 😉 This weekend was full of new people and experiences. The ATX Television Festival is something very different from the Screencraft Writers Summit, that’s for sure. There were some things for writers, but it was directed towards those fans who watched the show and wanted to get a behind the scenes feel. I volunteered because I have read so many things about volunteering at festivals being a big deal when you’re trying to branch out as a writer. Mind you, I did NOT talk to anyone about my writing. First, it’s not allowed as a volunteer, second, I didn’t want to! I wanted to meet these people to make friends, connections, sell myself as a person, not a profession. I literally want to be friends with all of the people I met. Stay for the end of this or skip through to get a raw internal thought transcription of what goes on in my mind when I meet someone I REALLY admire.
As a volunteer, it opened me up to taking a business sort of approach. “Ask me, I’ll help you, oh hey, I love this show too.” You get the idea. I will say my internal excitement was pushed to the max this weekend as well. When Matthew MacCaughnehey breezed by me is definitely something I wont forget. I met so many new people, both in a professional manner as well as friendly, at least I hope so.
BOOM! Did you catch that? “At least I hope so.” Cue the social anxiety induced internal war. Now is when I start worrying about what I said, what I might have done to overstep. Should I have kept that to myself, did they seem interested to be friends or should I just smile at them if we are in the same room, keep the waves and any sort of communication to an absolute minimum? If I sit next to you the next time I see you, is that ok? Of course, this is all made worse with people who are higher profile. It’s natural to assume they don’t want to be friends with people not in the industry. But then you have to remember, these are real people too. I’m sure they have average joe friends who aren’t in the industry, too.
Now, to a story of when my anxiety was at peak high over the weekend. Meeting Julie Plec and Carina MacKenzie. I’ve meet Julie before, at the Screencraft Writers Summit, briefly after a panel she did. I ran into her on the way back to the hotel on Saturday night, a whole group of friends. They are such good people. I teased one of them that morning after a panel, and he took it well, again, I worried about that. You see, I have talked to these people via Twitter and Instagram now and then. By this, I mean, that I’ve commented and they’ve responded a few times. Now I don’t say this to imply that this all gives me a right or a presidence to think I can talk to these people familiarly, but I do want to befriend these people. And no, it’s not because they are stars. I met Matthew, sorta, and I have no desire to be his friend, and THAT is a story I may not ever share online.
I have genuinely come to enjoy and look forward to reading certain posts and seeing pics of what they’re up to. Again, I worry every time I interact with these people on whether or not I’m overstepping. Even with people who aren’t actors/actresses. I worked with someone who I felt was one badass woman, I was the volunteer, she was staff, and man, she is someone who knows what they want, says it clearly and expects it to be executed properly. Great qualities for a boss. 😊 Alright, I may be rambling right now, so I will try to get myself back on track.
I struggle like this all the time. If I want to be friends with someone, and I feel one tiny bit like they are a little out of my league, I freak out. I made an idiot out of myself with the assistance of a couple drinks Saturday night and I don’t know if that will haunt me for the rest of my life or if I will just get over it. I have to stop myself from reliving the situation over and over again and wishing I had’t done/said something. I met someone new and didn’t recognize her at first and later found out it was someone I really wanted to me, as a writer, and I’m afraid I may have burned that bridge. I probably didn’t but my anxiety will cut me to the core and insist I did. Which leads me to the constant battle I fight inside myself. Trampling, yes trample, my scared feelings and doing the brave even when it makes my stomach turn and my body to sweat and pale as I do it. If you see me on the streeet or in a bar or wherever and I look ready to pass out, just ignore it. Pointing it out will make it worse. Trust me, I am probably actively trying to talk myself down to some sort of normalcy.
To all those who I met the last four or five days, it was an absolute joy to meet you. I hope to see you at other events or next year at the ATX Festival, which I hope to make a yearly thing. And thank you to the co-founders of the ATX Television Festival, Caitlin and Emily, for making this thing happen and congrats on it’s 8th year! 🎉