It is just past that time of year again and I have just volunteered for two weekends of convention work. I get asked all the time if I get paid to do these. The answer is in the word volunteer. A volunteer does not get paid.

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So why then do I spend all this money and time to volunteer six times a year all around the country. There are people that say I wouldn’t do it unless I got something out of it. The answer to that is of course I do. The problem is they mean something financial or in product and I don’t.

Here is what I do get out of it in the clearest and simplest terms I can; I get friendship and family. I also get jet lag, excessive tiredness and con flu and yet I still keep signing up.

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I’m going to elaborate on the positives for a minute though. In doing these conventions I have made some of the best friends I have. I work in a high pressure environment, it’s a job I love don’t get me wrong but there isn’t a lot of place in it for geeky conversations. The people I work with accept that part of me but mostly they don’t understand it, not like my convention family do. Also for me conventions are personal and I try to keep a lot of my personal out of my work. My con family allow me to embrace that part of my personality. They accept that geeky, nerdy part of myself that loves fantasy, sci-fi and so many things pop culture. These are the people who get my one off random quotes, they are the people who break into Disney songs with me. They are the ones who understand when I say I don’t like people, or I just need space. So many of us have levels of anxiety or introversion, so we understand it in each other.

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I have a lot of fun on these weekends but I also work very hard. All the people I work with, work hard on these weekends and sometimes for very little gratitude. Sometimes convention goers are really rather rude to volunteers, I’ve seen it in person, I’ve read it in comment threads. I’ve been sworn at and abused (in my case I barely notice it because of my job, but most people don’t deal with that sort of behaviour on a daily basis).

There has also been a whole surprising group of people whom I’ve met and have added depth to my convention experiences, regular patrons. I get plenty of smiles, hugs and compliments from the faces I have seen again and again. We rib each other, laugh with each other and sometimes cause people to look us us weirdly with the way we interact because I am a volunteer and they are paying customers. Guess what, we don’t care, and we don’t care because on one level we understand each other and we have formed a relationship solely through the fact we often see each other at these conventions. (Thanks to Scott for this memory – though I still wonder why you would want me in your pic, how ever flattering it was to be asked.)

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I have to add that in all this craziness and hard work I am privileged to have some really awesome stories of the wonderful people I’ve met and maybe I’ll put some of them in another blog post sometime. There was the Carrie Fisher line, the Peter Cullen kiss, push ups, being knighted and being given the title Evil Kylie but like I said, maybe better kept for another time.

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On these weekends I spend hours dealing with thousands of people as part of an awesome team. Then I crash. Here is the thing most people don’t understand. I am largely an introvert. So many people don’t really understand what it means to be an introvert. I can do well in social situations, I have no trouble performing in front of people and a can manage a crowd, however by the end of the day I am exhausted, totally peopled out. The less people I have to deal with the better and the friends I travel with during this times are much the same. It is not unheard of for us to talk until food arrives, then not say anything till the food is gone, go back to where ever we are staying and go to our separate corners and not speak. An introvert is energised by alone time, not people time.

I love my convention times, in some ways I need them, they are 180 degrees removed from my working life. Afterwards though there is always a crash. The crash is the come down but it is also necessary because I need to re-energise myself and I do that by being by myself.

Convention time is over for the next 5 months and I will now get right back into working on book two of the Oparna Legacy for those who care.

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