Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I'm Going To TooManyGames...To Talk To People

For some reason or another, I've decided that 2017 is going to be the year that I make that major breakthrough on my childhood bullying trauma that's prevented me from trying to talk to men my own age. I'm not entirely certain as to why this happened, but I have some ideas.

The project I'm working on, the Autistic Gaming Initiative, is hopefully going to be a monthly charity gaming stream once I have it in gear where the group of us - all autistic gamers - stream for as long as we can to raise money for the Autism Self-Advocacy Network and Autism Women's Network. I wouldn't have even thought to do this, however, if it weren't for a group of streamers who I've been watching quite a bit lately. You can thank the fine folks at Vinesauce and their charity streams benefiting pediatric cancer research for motivating me to do this - I was watching part of an older charity stream and saw them reach their fundraising goal, and hearing them all chiming in on their audio chat and thanking each other and the viewers for all their help was simply amazing. It was one of those moments where people do something bigger than just themselves, and it made me realize that something I enjoy doing in my spare time could actually be used to help other people like myself.

So here we are in March 2017, and I'm learning how to be a good video game streamer. I've been binge-watching the various streamers of Vinesauce to learn as much as I can in a short period of time (one of those autism benefits is that your brain is a sponge when you're motivated) and I'm looking to get everything pulled together so we can do our first charity stream in April or May, likely the latter. You can follow my learning process on my Twitch page - I'll probably be streaming tonight, in fact - and jump in on the chat as I play all manner of weird things.

Now, why is all of this important? Last year, the Vinesauce team actually had a booth and a panel at TooManyGames, a gaming convention in Philadelphia, and they're going to be back this year for round two. I'm within driving distance of Philadelphia and now fully intend to go to TooManyGames and try to actually thank them for inspiring me to take this project of mine on. Meeting people who I'm inspired by is always very daunting for me, but I've decided that I absolutely have to do this because this would be a huge step forward for me in redeveloping social confidence. I'm not going to let myself chicken out of this one, so I've been getting as many of my friends as possible to hold me to doing this and even go with me to ensure that I actually go and say hi to them at some point.

Anyway, writing this on here is another way of holding myself to doing this, so please watch this space and come late June I'll report back on the whole thing. I'm trying my best here!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Confidence? Me? Out Of Nowhere?

I've been a bit busy lately between working two jobs and getting the Autistic Gaming Initiative into gear, but things have more or less been good here. In fact, I've had a strange burst of personal confidence that I don't fully understand but am fully embracing with regards to the one major insecurity I have left in my life.

Out of seemingly nowhere over the past three weeks, I've suddenly developed more forwardness and an interest in meeting men that I didn't anticipate I'd ever have. As has been well-documented on this blog in the past, I've been deathly afraid of trying to date for a number of reasons, the primary one being my almost PTSD-esque response to being around men my own age due to bullying as a child and teenager that conditioned me to assume instant rejection and name-calling would follow if I interacted with them. Lately, though, for reasons I can't quite explain, that's taken a back seat to a realization that I'm actually quite cute, can actually be charming (I wouldn't have so many friends if I wasn't!), and wield my sense of humor like it's the goddamned Master Sword. I'm absolutely capable of winning people over, and this includes men who I could develop a mutual attraction with.

At some point in a month or two when we're less busy, my friends and I are going to take a trip to the local Barcade and hang out for a while, and I feel like this is my chance to really start testing the waters and seeing what I'm capable of. If I had a superpower, it would probably be "can do almost anything whilst simultaneously playing Galaga," so if I need to I can absolutely chat someone up as I blast aliens into the next galaxy. (For reference, Galaga has become as natural to me as driving my car, and I can even look up and around me as I play it, much like I can when I'm driving. It's scary.)

But here's how I know I've changed - sure, Barcade would have been exciting to me from the get-go because it revolves around one of my favorite things, old arcade games. But I'm planning my outfit for the trip, thinking about even doing a little makeup that doesn't give me sensory issues, and ensuring that I actually accentuate my cuteness whilst I go along and do what I normally would be doing - meaning that I'm no longer afraid of receiving non-catcall attention. I'm now finally okay with people looking at and noticing me and going, "Hey, she's cute." This legitimately gave me anxiety attacks in the past, and this seemingly sudden change in me is odd, but I'm taking it.

And hey, even if nothing happens at first, just knowing that things aren't as scary as I think they are is going to be a huge confidence-booster down the road, so there's that!

Image: the author [a young woman in a very 1990s jumper and bowler] posing next to a Space Invaders arcade cabinet.