stranger danger

I’m not good at networking. At all. Like, I’m horribly, shockingly dreadful at it. So, naturally, the idea of attending a writers conference all by my lonesome scares the shit out of me.

Do I think it would be good for me? Benefit me tremendously? Widen my literary connections? Sharpen my writing skills? All of the above.

It still scares the shit out of me.

It’s the whole fear of being thrown into a room full of people I don’t know and being forced to socialize with them syndrome (FOBTIARFOPIDKABFTSWTS). Despite what you think, it’s actually very common. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had its own WebMD page. You know…right next to the how to turn your common cold symptoms into ‘You Only Have One Week To Live’ page.

I’m good with tweeting and texting and everything else the older generation spits on my generation for in terms of communicating. I mean, who isn’t comfortable with allowing technology to talk for them? It’s when you stick me in a room with complete strangers that I freeze up and turn into a crazy mute person. I revert back to my days of infancy when I had yet to learn any communication skills other than crying and defecating into a diaper.

See, growing up, you’re always told by adults to not talk to strangers. It’s dangerous. Wrong. DON’T DO IT. STRANGER DANGER! STRANGER DANGER! They program that shit into your head. Then, you start school and those same adults leave you alone in a room full of strangers and tell you to go have fun and turn them into friends. I mean…where’s the consistency? If I’m not supposed to even talk to strangers, why the Hell are you trying to make me become friends with them all of a sudden? What happened to stranger danger? I don’t know any of these people! Why are you abandoning me here???!?

I blame this for why I freeze up around new people. I was just such well behaved child and followed everything my parents taught me (Momma, stop laughing).

It’s not that I’m socially awkward per se, but rather socially hit or miss. Once I get going—alcohol always helps—I can talk for hours. It’s the get going that I have trouble with all too often. I call it the stranger bitch effect (SBE). As in, when people sometimes first meet me, I tend to come across as a little bit of a bitch. When really, it’s my inability to function normally around strangers in combination with what my sister and close friends refer to as my natural bitch face that tends to screw up that coveted first impression. I apologize. I can’t help it if my default expression lacks roses and rainbows. I try to be conscious of it, but then I end up with this weird, creepy, fake smile—which I can assure you is way scarier than the aforementioned stink-eye face.

I am getting better, which was evident at the recent MPACT Happy Hour I attended at Alchemy last week. I actually talked to people, networked a little, gave out at least one business card, gained a new FB friend…yes, alcohol was involved (we’re talking a few drinks here, I’m not a lush). I also had my sister there as back-up, something I won’t have at a writers conference.

So, yeah, back to writers conferences…the whole point of this post. While I am scared out of my mind at attending one of these solo, I’m not going to let that fear deter me from experiencing one. I just needed to talk about it a little bit. You know…get it off my chest, get it out into the open to all you other writers out there. So that when you happen to run into some random girl at your next writers conference who you notice keeps looking around with this crazy bitch expression frozen on her face…you’ll actually come up and say hello.

Really. I would love to meet you.

– lindsey archer

PS – I have no idea which conference I am going to attend, just that I will be going to one sometime in the next calendar year. If you have any recommendations for a newbie writer like me, please let me know! There are so many out there. I seriously need all the help I can get.

Leave a comment


  1. I LOLed about the stranger danger inconsistency. SO TRUE.

    I’m seriously considering going to The Influence Conference in October. Was this your first MPACT event? I really don’t know much about the organization, but maybe I should look into it.

  2. Ha! This made me laugh.
    (I hope I’m not the only person who checked the acronym to make sure you’d got it right. Good job! You forgot to italicize syndrome, though.)
    And yeah, once you’re an adult everyone’s like ‘hey, just talk to everyone. stop being so anti-social, Sheldon’. I’ve got an awesome excuse for not bothering, though – took the Meyers Briggs test and I’m officially an introvert (INTJ, to be precise) so screw you all. I’ll (not) talk to who I want.
    And with friends who call your default expression ‘natural bitch face’ who needs enemies? 🙂

  3. Too bad you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest! We could meet up at Willamette Writers’ conference in Portland. Then you’d know someone. Erm…sort of. But I promise I’m super friendly and I rarely bite. Besides, I have a soft spot for graphic designers. You guys make me (the instructional designer) look good. 😉

    • I totally would! I’m still looking for the right conference that is somewhere near my area. Thanks for the suggestion! 🙂


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