I tend to stay in. It’s hard for me to pinpoint how much this tendency is derived from my poseurphobia, but it’s fair to say that I would probably go out a lot more if I wasn’t so afraid of being judged all the time. In addition to frustrating my socially-inclined girlfriend, this prevents me from participating in all kinds of things I might actually enjoy. I’ve used this blog to motivate me into action before, but I’d like to make it a more regular occurrence, which is why I’m introducing a new Friday tradition: Solutions in Action. Basically, it will be a space to either report on some activity I have done, or to set a goal to do so in the future. As I said, I’ve done this a bit on this blog already, I’m just hoping I can motivate myself to do more if I make it a weekly piece.
I’m writing today from the seat of a Greyhound bus traveling to Appleton, Wisconsin for the SEAMUS National Conference. Now sure, a three-day conference (mostly concerts) on electro-acoustic music sounds like a lot of fun (to me, anyway), but there’s something about the thought of being around so many composers that puts me on edge. I’ve written before about how the world of composition elicits bizarre posturing, which is something I’ve only ever experienced in small doses — I can’t imagine how I might act around hundreds of composers. I don’t like meeting new people in general, but you add all the weird composer stuff on top, and suddenly the conference doesn’t sound all that appealing.
But I’m still going.
Now, to be fair, there are a lot of mitigating factors at work here. This year’s conference is being held at Lawrence University, my own alma mater. I don’t necessarily take every excuse to go back and visit, but I had a friend planning on making the trek from the east coast, and another with a piece on the program, so it seemed like a pretty good excuse. Between the rather robust concert schedule and those two friends (neither of which I’ve seen in quite some time), I figured I’d have a nice, full weekend ahead of me.
Then I realized that I still know a lot of people at Lawrence. I had forgotten how many underclassmen I knew, and hadn’t realized how many of my graduated friends were still in the area. Suddenly, the trip that had me so worried about my interactions with strangers is packed with familiar faces. This is puts my mind at ease — the thought of hanging out with old friends doesn’t make me anxious at all — but it also crowds my schedule in ways I wasn’t expecting. If I schmooze with all these composers, will I have time to buy Provie that beer I owe her for getting her Super Garruda? Will my desire to catch up with fellow cantankerous old men conflict with the concert schedule? I’m sure my inherent frugality will keep me from wasting the registration fee, but will I spend the social time making new friends or enjoying the company of old ones? I know where my inclinations lie, but I’m not certain of my best interest.
I am not a fan of professional networking, and the thought of spending a weekend immersed in it does not appeal to me at all, though at the same time, I am interested in meeting some like-minded composers (I know so few, but value their friendship so greatly). I’m not sure how the social side of the event will shake out, but I’m not sure I could handle all of the registered attendees in one place (no matter how many great things I may hear about the hotel bar). I’m hoping the crowd will break into smaller groups, ones that can be easily stereotyped by their preference of local bars. I worry that finding that group may take several nights’ worth of time, though I know I’m going to want to spend at least one of those nights catching up with old friends.
The situation is helped somewhat by the fact that some of the people I’m so looking forward to hang out with will also be participating in the conference, so I may be able to count on some catch-up time while meeting new people. BAH! I’m over-thinking this and writing it out boringly. Give me a break, I need to occupy my time on this bus somehow.
The point is, I’m getting out this weekend, and am actually looking forward to meeting new people. I realize that this is a simple thing people do everyday, but it requires some fretting for me. The point of this post isn’t to congratulate me for doing something simple, but to keep me honest about actually doing it. If you see me this weekend (or even if you don’t), ask me how many new people I’ve met. If it’s any more than zero, this weekend out will have justified itself.