In the beginning, going to cons was mostly about spending time with my friends, many of whom I never saw except for a couple of times a year. As a result, even during the long, long stretches of waiting in the hotel room while my friends took breaks or got into elaborate costumes, it never occurred to me not to spend most of my time hanging out with them. I was fine doing nothing because we were all together.
When I moved to Columbus in 2017, I became neighbors with some of my closest cosplay friends. We got to spend a lot more time together outside of cons. Then, when Super MAGFest rolled around, something kinda clicked: even though we were all there together, it didn't mean we were attached at the hip. I could go wander the con on my own, and it was okay because I no longer only saw my friends at these events.
Guys, this was a REVELATION. There is SO much stuff that happens at cons that I hadn't experienced, particularly in the gaming and TTRPG areas. It almost felt like being at that very first con again. Hell, it felt better.
I don't want this to sound like I'm denigrating my friends or anything. They weren't holding me back or keeping me from going to stuff I'd like. I left the nest when I was ready to, simple as that. I still hang out with them at cons, but I don't feel bad about breaking away when there's something I want to do that they don't, when they need to take downtime, or when I just need to wander on my own for a while. That first jump was a little scary, but it was absolutely worth it in the long run.
Rock on, guys, and never stop drawing.