The thought of traveling with a group of people can create a lot of apprehension among those of us with social anxiety. But for our first trip to Disneyland, I took–what was for me–a leap of faith (or craziness? Aren’t they sometimes the same thing?) and invited our friends to join us.
I should probably back up and explain where I’m coming from. It starts…with the internet. See, the internet is a great thing! It allows you to (more or less) control your identity and what you put out there; you can maneuver and manipulate, and more importantly proofread and edit every piece of information you release online. An introvert’s dream, a way to limit social anxieties (and saving others from experiencing my bad breath, according to Lance) because you present exactly who you want to be…this is much more difficult in person, where external variables are abundant.
There’s still some stigma against socializing online, but I gotta say, the internet–social media like Twitter and this blog, in particular–has been a blessing for me in my post-college life. It’s provided me with the opportunity to meet like-minded people and “fanboy” about so many pieces of obscure pop culture. You can find slews of people in Real Life who can talk about the Super Bowl; it’s significantly harder to meet somebody at work who is familiar with Mary Blair.
This past year in particular, as this blog’s readership diversified and I immersed myself ever deeper in the Disney fandom Twitterverse, I got to know so many great people, people I never would’ve had either the opportunity or nerve to speak to in person. And with social anxieties and self-doubt tempered, friendships that developed online began to parallel in real life, through meet-ups and brunches and cocktails and ::shudder:: Showgirls 2: Penny’s From Heaven.
Still, it’s quite a jump from “Hey, let’s grab a drink!” to “I’ve only hung out with you in person for like an hour; whaddaya say to going to Disneyland with us?”
We’d been chatting with Brian and Phil on Twitter for months before we finally met either of them in person. I knew Phil and Brian were Disney fans of the least annoying order: knowledgeable and enthusiastic without being the kind of people who have a conniption about cartoon eyes being added to Walt’s Gulfstream to promote Planes (to each their own; I just don’t care in that way, I guess!). And I knew that, if my lead for a Club 33 reservation panned out (at that point we hadn’t actually secured a table), they’d be exactly the kind of people with whom I’d want to enjoy that experience.
Given how much of a deep-seeded introvert I am, the fact that an invitation just spilled out of me is still quite a surprise. Maybe it’s because the whole notion of flying across the country to hang out with people you’ve almost exclusively spoken to online seemed pretty ridiculous; of course they’d never agree, so what was the harm in asking?
But then they said yes.
Above: Brian controls the lights on Mickey’s Fun Wheel!
I just finished reading Imagineer Marty Sklar’s memoir, Dream It! Do It! My Half-Century Creating Disney’s Magic Kingdoms, and towards the end, he references the following Walt Disney quote:
When I was about twenty-one, I went broke for the first time. I slept on chair cushions in my “studio” in Kansas City and ate cold beans out of a can. But I took another look at my dream and set out for Hollywood….Foolish? Not to a youngster. An older person might have had too much “common sense” to do it. Sometimes I wonder if “common sense” isn’t another way of saying “fear.” And “fear” too often spells failure.
Maybe it wasn’t common sensical to take that leap, (heck, maybe Brian is an axe murderer in his spare time; he looks like he could wield a blade…) and it required a lot of trust on Phil and Brian’s part (Lance and I actually are axe murderers in real life, FYI), but I’m glad we did it. Brian’s encyclopedic knowledge of theme parks and Phil’s passion for attraction design and Disney history really “plussed,” to again borrow a phrase from Walt Disney, our first-ever Disneyland experience…err, not to mention that they’re pretty swell guys to boot. We wouldn’t have had nearly as much fun without them, and hopefully they had a good time, too.
So I guess the moral of this story is to try, to sometimes do something crazy and illogical and against your nature. (Except being an axe murderer. Don’t do that.) Oftentimes you’ll be better for it.