When I started this blog, I had known I was going to write about my Unity Days experience, I just hadn’t anticipated taking this long before getting around to it.
Call me sentimental, but buying my first Weekend Pass has got me reflecting and missing the convention something fierce.
In 2017, I was still in a corner of the fandom where I didn’t know anyone. In fact, I was in my own little world and perfectly fine with it. As a person, I’ve been an introvert since high school and I feel a lot more comfortable and a safer being in my corner. I never thought I would ever come out of it.
I don’t remember how I heard about Unity Days; all I remember is the fact that I did hear about it and my first thought was: Vancouver is three hours away. My second was figuring out my money situation. Within a couple weeks I had my Saturday pass, my Bob and Lindsey Duo, and a sense of both dread and excitement running through me. The dread was due to the fact that I had honestly no idea what I was going to be doing at this con. I had no clue what a con entailed and was jumping in feet first, eyes closed–the weird leap of faith I’ve ever taken.
My excitement was all thanks to the fact that I was finally getting to meet two of my favorites and I just couldn’t stop talking about it.
For those of you who don’t know me, Bellamy Blake and Raven Reyes are my favorite characters, and through these characters I learned more about Bob and Lindsey, and fell in love with who they are as people. Their characters have helped me when I’ve struggled deeply with my depression, reminding me that I’m not just reduced to my mental health struggles–that I was, am, and always will be far more than those struggles.
To me, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I took it. My drive from Seattle to Vancouver was mostly me being excited. Once I got there, things changed.
When the anxiety goblin comes to visit, it’s almost impossible to keep it out. That stupid goblin came at me with such force, it knocked the wind out of me. I say in the panel room the whole time in the same seat all day, barely able to get up and move around because I was so darn petrified about being around so many people I didn’t know.
I wasn’t sure what to do with myself or where to go. Talking to people seemed impossible. So I stayed there through the panels–I got a hug from Bob, spoke to Sachin about Bollywood movies, and was introduced to Chelsey Reist in a way I’ll never forget.
I wasn’t planning on being there for her panel, but having not moved, I heard her. I was instantly drawn to her; her story moved and inspired me to be a better person and believe in myself more than I was even starting to already. Until then, Harper was just another one of the 100 who disappeared into the background. Ever fall for a character people their actor or actress is just a powerhouse? That’s what happened for me with Harper. I wish I hadn’t overlooked her for as long as I had.
By the time it was time for my photo op with Bob and Lindsey, I had to really work on getting it together. I ended up letting almost everyone in front of me so I could go last (and therefore get more of a chance to catch my breath and calm down. Thankfully that picture didn’t come out half as bad as I thought it would.
I just wish I had done a different pose.
After that photo op, I went to the closing panel, and at the end of it I got close enough to Chelsey to hear her giving another young girl advice.
Chelsey Reist has the biggest, purest, most beautiful heart I’ve ever seen in a person and without Unity Days, I wouldn’t have met her.
I went home that night a mess–I was happy and sad at the same time and it was the most wonderful mix of both feelings.
When UD2 was announced, I was on those tickets so fast. This time I was going in with a lot more confidence than I had the first time. My excitement was hard to contain–I was getting autographs and my Bob and Lindsey duo photo op. Unfortunately, year two kind of fell flat for me in experience, somewhat due to my own idiocy.
Kids, when Bob Morley asks you at if you want to ask him something at the autograph booth, do NOT respond with “Do I have to?” Don’t be like me.
In the moment, I was horrified I had said that and just wanted to disappear, but you know, it is what it is. Not my shining moment, but I got through it.
But had I not gotten Bob’s autograph, I would have never met Khudija, who runs Positivity One Word at a Time, and my life would be severely lacking. And yes, you did read that right, at UD1, I didn’t have the courage to talk to anyone, but UD2, I decided to kick that fear in the ass and focus on making friends for once, and boy am I glad that I did. I didn’t have a lot go right for me that day–my photo op picture didn’t come out good, and I almost missed my autograph with Lindsey because of something that wasn’t really in anyone’s hands.
Luckily, I got the chance to talk to Nadia, Jess, Jarod, Sachin, and finally got to talk to Chelsey. One thing you should know about me is that I’m a very emotional person and like the dummy I am, I cried when meeting each of them. But getting to talk to them and hug them was more than enough for me. All of that did, honestly, make up for the things that went wrong. And honestly, I’ll still say that UD has been one of my best convention experiences.
Saying goodbye to UD is going to be difficult; this convention changed a lot for me. It helped me climb out of a shell I hadn’t known I was hiding it. Because of UD, I’ve had the courage to go to other conventions, get more active on social, and… become a different (and hopefully better) person.
I look forward to seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones this year.
So here’s to a final year of the best 100 convention you can go to.
May we meet again.