Dear I‘m Alive Volunteers
Dear I’m Alive,
Can we talk for a minute about your presence at the Supernatural Seattle convention? When I first heard the idea of I’m Alive volunteers being at the convention, I was apprehensive. It was presented in the light that the volunteers would be gatekeepers to the cast members. I heard we weren’t allowed to cry or get upset before seeing cast members. If we did, we’d be ejected by volunteers until we got our act together. Looking back on it, I don’t know how that idea even was thought up. Safe to say, though, I was pensive.
My first photo op was with Rob and Rich. If I was nervous, the young lady a few spaces behind me was wrecked. She could not have been more than twelve years old and was shaking like a chihuahua. Ahead, I spotted a bright blue shirt and called out to the person wearing it.
“Hey, I’m Alive!” I yelled.
“I think her name is Elena,” the girl in front of me said.
“Hey, Elena!” I tried again.
This time, she heard me and immediately came to see what was going on.
I gestured to the anxious young woman near me and said “I think my young friend here is a little overwhelmed.”
Immediately, Elena sprang into action. She tossed an arm around the young lady’s shoulder and said “Hi! Are you excited? This is so cool! What pose are you thinking of doing?”
Just like that, they were off and running. I became focused on my own upcoming op, but could tell that the girl behind me became noticeably more steady having Elena to talk to.
On a personal level, I have anxiety and an irrational fear of Jared Padalecki. I went into my photo op with him with several friends. Their presence couldn’t calm me down. I kept trying to do grounding exercise, but I couldn’t focus. As such, I was getting more and more angry that I couldn’t get my act together. An I’m Alive volunteer came right up to me.
“How are you doing?” she asked.
I let loose a string of expletives that could make a Navy Seal blush. The volunteer took it all as a matter of course. As I rearranged my friends and encouraged (read: Shoved them) to go in front of me, my volunteer stuck to me like glue.
When I reached the front of the queue, she gently asked “Do you want to sit for a second until you’re ready?”
I nodded and stepped aside to let my friends get their pictures. As my final friend got her picture, I stepped forward and announced I was ready.
“Are you sure? You can still wait.” the volunteer offered.
“If I don’t f***ing do it now, I’m not doing it at all.” I replied.
“Okay!” she responded and we turned around…just in time to see my friend having her picture taken. Jared had a grip on her hair at the back of her head and was pushing her hair out of her face.
My volunteer chuckled and said “…awkward…”
I just barely survived my photo op and ran away like a scared child once it was over. At the end of the convention, though, my volunteer sought me out. She told me how proud she was of me that I made it through the op and fulfilled my personal promise to look Jared in the eyes.
All weekend long whenever anyone looked even a little uncomfortable, I saw a blue shirt headed their way ready to make it just a little bit easier. I’m Alive volunteers really reinforced the idea of “you are not alone.” They were kind, courteous, and respectful. They were a force of overwhelming love and support in a chaotic environment.
To anyone who is concerned about your emotions being managed and judged at the con by I’m Alive volunteers, please don’t worry. These volunteers know you’re struggling, but they see greatness inside of you. They know you can overcome what’s plaguing you in the moment and they’re there to help you. If you go to a con and you need someone to lean on, even for just a moment, look for the blue shirts. They have your back.
To all of the volunteers who came out to help us in Seattle, thank you so much. You are so loved and so valued. Thank you for being part of our family.