I HATE crowds !! I was diagnosed as a "demophobe" almost twenty years ago. I have had to leave jobs and large cities because of it. But yesterday 3/30/14, I went to the last day of the Emerald City Comic Con here in Seattle - HOLY F'ing A !!! I only had two mild panic attacks but I managed to slip outside before I screamed my head off. At one point, I couldn't even see my feet...I was nauseated, cold sweating and feeling about 2" tall while I stood in the line to enter the main hall.
The only thing that kept me going was that I had people to meet, to thank and to smile at. People, who through their own hard work, helped me through some very trying times, without even knowing it. I was attending for the every man, the artist who worked to make people laugh and smile and guffaw, even if he/she was barely scraping by; not the overpaid Hollywood celebrities, who were so swamped by their adoring fans, that all they could muster when asked to sign an autograph or take a picture with an adoring cosplayer, who probably spent a small fortune just for that one moment, was "Thank You" - no smile, no conversation, no real appreciation.
I met my silent helpers and a ton more inspiring and amazing artists and probably spent more than I wanted to but I left there with a sense of accomplishment and wonder and dare I say it, JOY. I survived the Con and I can't wait to go back next year.