You’ve been in the rarefied atmosphere of your favorite convention. A place where people are into all the things you’re into. A place where people get all your inside jokes and jargon without having to explain yourself. Where there’s literally so many activities and so much fun to be had, you don’t have enough time in the day to attend all the things you wanted to see and have fun at.
And when the stars align and you can get some lunch, or maybe get some gaming in between panels, you can pretty much just breathe in the feeling of all being right with your world. And you were feeling it underneath that current of fun you were having on the last day. There was the knowledge that you’d be leaving and going back home soon. And it’s almost like you were getting maudlin prematurely to save time. And you can’t imagine what it’s going to be like on Monday when you get back to work. UGH.
Having done two larger conventions a year, including DragonCon every Labor Day for a solid decade, I can tell you right now that what you’re feeling, be it a sci-fi, comic book, gaming or straight up professional convention that the existential dread you’re feeling is a real thing. Convention-nauts even have a term for it. You’ve heard of ‘Con-Crud‘. (IE The thing everyone gets sick with that year.) Now you’ve got… Con Drop.
It’s that ennui that sets in when you have to leave your own true tribe and rejoin the life of the everyday. The return to the grind of work and making your living way in the world after a straight 3 to 5 days of unadulterated fun-times. All the happy chemicals and endorphins have stopped and you’re actually having something of a physical crash as well, emotionally.
For LARP-ers and RPG-ers this can actually come with a secondary kind of drop referred to as ‘Bleed’. A thing where you’ve been immersed in character all weekend, but now that you’re you again and returning to ‘real life’, (Whatever that is.) you find you’re still in character and reacting as that character would. I know I had it after I attended New World Magischola for their inaugural run back in 2016. Happily, I was already familiar with Con Drop.
For both… what I recommend is something very much like divers have to do after having been very deep in the ocean for a period of time. They have to decompress otherwise they’ll get nitrogen bubbles in the blood, a condition referred to as The Bends. (Oh you think Con Crud is bad… UGH) Con Drop’s not nearly so severe, but dealing with it is very like the period a diver needs for decompression. You need some time to re-acquaint yourself with yourself and your life before you rejoin it.
Firstly, before you leave, don’t sweat the fact that it’s ending soon. There’s no need to blow your good time prematurely if you’re still at the wonderful thing. Enjoy it while it lasts! You can deal with con-drop when it’s over. Why did you spend all that time and resources just to bum yourself out before it’s over? Drop’s not going away faster just cos you’re getting an early start feeling bad. That’s like buying an excellent meal and not eating all of it cos you don’t want the experience of it to be so good you regret finishing it all later. Are you getting the goofy-ness of that? The same thing applies here to convention drop.
I know that when I am planning my vacation time for a convention, I always budget at least one more day on the end after I’ve got home. Just to myself, or just me and my wife. I do nothing of use. I don’t unpack. I don’t go through the pictures I took there, or go through posts from people I met or groups I joined. I don’t hit the sites for all the vendors I browsed and got cards from in the vendor rooms. The con is done, and I am done with the con for a year. Doing a post-con wallow in all its online glory is only going to be one more day of it when I am emotionally exhausted and need to be getting back to myself.
I do the things I normally do on my weekends. I work on my own projects or productions. I watch a movie or show I’ve not seen yet. Or maybe something I got recommended while I was at the convention. Catch up on my reading. Listen to my own playlists. I do NOT clean house. (Actually we do that before we leave so we don’t come home to a wreck from con prep.) I get a lot of rest too. Naps are great. I mean all the physiological and mental benefits of a good nap are documented legion. But you’ve also been walking all over hell’s creation for 3 to 5 straight days, dealing with crowds, dealing with the stress of being out of your environment. You may think you don’t need a nap now, future post-nap you thinks you don’t know what you’re talking about.
The whole point is to re-acquaint yourself with your usual routine. Take care of, and maybe just do something that NORMALLY makes you feel good and comfortable with yourself again. Don’t get into any kind of important project or something like work yet. Treat yourself to your favorite familiar dinner. Get rested and rebalanced so that when you rejoin your life and responsibilities once more, you’re doing it from a place of a normal day of relaxation with yourself. And you’re relaxing with positive feelings that you get from the everyday. Not the disappointment and emotional/physical withdrawal you’re experiencing from leaving the intensified fun of your convention of choice. You scan me? (WE GET YOU SIR!) Right. As you were.
And by the way, yes they’re back from the NOVA open, but our troupers (troopers) Caleb and Preston will be at Dragon Fall 2019 in Elmhurst IL. this October 27th to the 29th, running some painting classes. So having dealt with con drop this month, they get to look forward to having it next month too. I’ve said it before about where I’m working now… These are the problems you WANT to have. Nevertheless, spare a kind thought or two for our fellas with the brushes and merch. Working cons can be quite a different thing from just attending…
But that’s another story…
— Edward WinterRose is a decade veteran of DragonCon, the largest sci-fi convention in the United States, and another con where he’s head of the Geek Track, and a married in member of the game room staff. And is looking forward to returning to those cons next year.