I'd like to quote Mark Twain, if I may: "I've lived through a lot of catastrophes in my life, some of which actually happened."
I offer that quote partly because quoting Mark Twain makes me seem infinitely smarter and wiser than I actually am. If I quoted from Plato, I might never get over myself. Mostly, though, it's relevant to my Saturday at Ad Astra. I dreaded 'going into battle' with the panelist I mentioned in my last post, whom I had to deal with in more than one panel yesterday. I thought of ways to score cheap points against this person, silly ways of dealing with them, or strategies wherein I could be the 'bigger man' and not let it bother me. Even though it totally would have bothered me.
And, like my friend and personal masseuse Mark Twain, I had nothing to worry about. We got along (not famously, but just enough), and by the end of the evening I went away with a deeper understanding of this person. I'm glad it turned out that way, but I am also grateful for this experience in general. I was genuinely scared to face this person again today - not because I was scared of them, but because I wasn't sure I could deal with it in a way that would leave me satisfied. This is a personal battle I've fought many times in the presence of difficult people, and I'd often come away feeling like a loser. "Don't let them bother you," people would say, but they'd always neglect to tell me how. When I went to do my panels yesterday evening, I was prepared to 'not be bothered'. Whatever happened, I would keep my cool and accept that I could not change this person, and scoring the cheap victories I'd imagined would only make things worse.
Did those panels go perfectly? No, not quite. I felt out of my depth in a couple of them, especially the one on romance in YA fiction. I'll write more about that later (because I have to catch a bus very soon!). However, I did come away from yesterday feeling satisfied. For me, it was a good start.