I went to a Supernatural Convention, and I haven’t been home in a few days…
In August of last year, I bought tickets to the Supernatural Convention in Nashville. The show and many of the projects the cast members have spearheaded have impacted me greatly, and I wanted to say thank you – in person, if possible. So I went, and the experience was surreal. On the other side of it, here are some observations and a few things I learned along the way – although if you’re looking for convention tips, that’s not what this is about:
- Demographics are nothing more than descriptors.
I’m 36. A single mom. A military officer. As my first convention drew near, I seriously debated what the heck I was doing. Did people “like me” actually do this? I didn’t know anyone “like me” who would have flown by themselves to Nashville, TN to attend a fan convention completely dedicated to a TV show.
You know what? Who cares?!
My demographics describe me, but they don’t dictate the things I am interested in, and they certainly don’t have the power to create a box that I and all of my interests have to fit into. (Unless, of course, they are prejudicial to good order and discipline, because military regulations are what they are.) Imagine if I had said, “I’m 36, I can’t go to a fan convention!” or “I don’t know any other military officers taking leave to go to a Supernatural convention; I can’t be the first!” I would have missed out on so much. Lesson learned: don’t let what you think someone in your demographic should do hold you back from what you want to do.
2. The Supernatural Family (#SPNFamily) is a real thing.
I had suspected this for awhile, based on more than a decade of anecdotes populating the internet, a fantastic book edited by Lynn S. Zubernis called Family Don’t End With Blood (FDEWB), and the way that the fandom responded to needs – ones that had absolutely nothing to do with Supernatural – around the world. I remember reading FDEWB while deployed and finding validation for the impact the show, the cast, and their projects had had on me. Honestly, though, I wasn’t sure what I was going to find at a convention. I was new, this was my first con, and I felt really overwhelmed.
I shouldn’t have. On the first night, I had tickets to attend the relatively small Pajama Party with Kim Rhodes and Lisa Berry. I got onto the elevator, trying to figure out where in this huge convention center I was supposed to go, and I met three ladies who were also on their way to the Pajama Party. One of them happened to be active duty Air Force, and the other two were military dependents. They caught how lost I was, and they immediately offered to take me with them. Maybe it seems minor, but isn’t it the minor things that make such a major difference sometimes?
But if we’re going to talk about family, I have to tell you about Savannah. In our VIP group of ten ladies, Savannah was the youngest at 13-years-old, and she was absolutely precious. She and her grandmother were in the group, and we basically made her our unofficial mascot within the first twenty minutes. Her favorite cast member is Adam Fergus, and we made sure that all of our interactions with Adam involved giving her pride of place. This even meant that when Adam came over to pull one of the VIPs on stage during the karaoke party, we made sure Savannah was the one. There was this sense of “let’s make this weekend as memorable as possible for her” – just because. Each of us could have easily been out for ourselves, eager to steal the spotlight and the precious few minutes we got with each of the cast, but we chose instead to be intentional about making an already incredible experience even more so for Savannah. And we basked in the glow of her happiness with every encounter. In a ridiculously short amount of time, family happened, and it was beautiful.
Also beautiful was how every person there could just be themselves. Acceptance was pretty much the rule, and it was so fun to see people be fans without worrying about being judged. Heck, I could fangirl without anyone judging me; in fact, I got lots of grins when people figured out it was my first con and I couldn’t get the smile off of my face. More to the point, as soon as people realized I was a newbie, they offered pointers and tips to make the entire experience even better. All around, everyone wanted the best for everyone else, to include leaving random notes of encouragement around the convention. Talk about a breath of fresh air.
3. As much as I love to create, watching others create is a joy on its own level.
Music means a lot to me. It is my go-to creative outlet, and making music is one of the places I most feel “at home,” even when you put me on a stage and hand me a microphone and a set of in-ear monitors. However, there is a deep sense of joy in watching other creatives do what they do and just letting myself enjoy what they are creating. The Louden Swain concert – Saturday Night Special – was no exception, and watching the band perform with each other and with the cast was so much fun, mostly because they were clearly having fun as they entertained us. (That being said, Lisa Berry sang the heck out of Proud Mary, and Jensen Ackles brought the house down with Like A Wrecking Ball – the Eric Church version – and Whipping Post.) It was something to behold, and I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, how lucky am I to be sitting here, getting to witness this bit of magic in person?” Because that’s how it felt, like magic. Like a bunch of creatives were connecting in a big way, and something amazing was happening – and they were enjoying themselves immensely in the process!
4. Famous or not, the cast is made up of some of the realest people you’ll ever meet.
With every encounter with the cast, I walked away thinking, “They are so insanely normal.” They talked about the difficulties of being away from home, of parenting, of struggling with self-esteem and self-worth, of tackling physical and mental illness; they talked about the same things we talk about on a daily basis, and it was amazing.
They were also unfailingly kind. I had the opportunity to have some actual conversations with a few of the cast, and they were so present – I never felt like they were just getting through the event, biding their time until the next thing. I think we struggle with that in our everyday lives; they managed to make each person they interacted with feel important and valued in a brief period of time. That’s a gift, but I don’t think it is something you can fake – even if acting is how you make your living.
5. We impact them.
Consistently, from actor to actor, whether in Q&A panels or meet & greets, it was readily apparent that they are as awed by us as we are by them. This incredible phenomenon started off with a TV show but morphed into something powerful, long-lasting, and profound, and the cast realizes that the fans are essential in that equation. We all have stories, and many of us have offered thanks – but they return it to us with humility and a sort of wonder that this work they do has changed lives. That wonder in and of itself is something they continue to carry with them.
Those interactions made me think about the people we have in our everyday lives who make a difference, but we assume they know. Don’t assume. Don’t ever assume. If someone makes a difference, tell them. Thank them. Because that might be what keeps them going on the really bad days, when it’s easy to believe that none of it matters…and yet it all matters. It all matters, and the impact can be reciprocal.
6. Everyone warned me about Post-Con Depression.
Remember all the advice folks were quick to give me the second they figured out I was new to this whole thing? One item that came up over and over again was the warning about Post-Con Depression – when the high of being at a convention and interacting with your favorite cast and being a fan without being judged fades and you have to step back into ordinary life, which can feel like a deep, deep valley.
I’m not there yet. What I am, in this very moment, is grateful. I could have continued to say, “Yeah, it would be cool to go to a convention someday,” but someday isn’t on my calendar, and it might never have happened. I was part of an amazing experience, and I met incredible people – and I don’t just mean the cast. My belief that the #SPNFamily is a real thing was validated, and I got to be part of the fandom without judgment. The convention exceeded my expectations, and I couldn’t be happier. When the Post-Con Depression inevitably creeps up, I look forward to fighting it with the gratitude that I’m feeling right now, because gratitude doesn’t go away.
Bottom line: I’m so glad I went, and I have no regrets. Does it get better than that?