I typically don’t remember my dreams, but Tuesday night I had a doozy of a stress dream. You could say my brain was smacking me for making light of other people’s anxieties in the run up to Black Hat, DEF CON and BSidesLV.
Every year at this time I start to hear people worrying aloud about their Vegas schedules, which is understandable. I used to create detailed schedules but threw out the script a few years ago when my fear of the unexpected diminished.
But Tuesday night’s dream proves that I still get as anxious as other people on occasion.
In the dream, I wake up in the middle of a food court in Vegas. I’m apparently in Vegas for just a day, and I realize I’ve slept through most of the one day I was scheduled to be there. It’s 7:28 p.m., and I realize I’ve missed all of that day’s conference proceedings. To make matters worse, I have to pack my things and change hotels before I can salvage any networking I can squeeze out of the trip. I walk two miles in the desert with all my luggage to the next taxi line. Somewhere in there, I check my voicemail and find a message from my father asking me to call him.
Then I wake up, relieved and pissed off at the same time.
There’s something about RSA and Black Hat/BSidesLV/DEF CON that bring this out of me in the two weeks leading up to showtime. They are indeed monster events for our industry — places to be seen, contribute content, pitch your company’s message and catch up with friends and far-flung colleagues. To miss it seems like a fail to a lot of people think as the moment closes in. It’s an irrational fear, but it’s there nonetheless.
I’m framing this by the industry I work in, but this anxiety isn’t strictly a security community issue. It’s something people in all walks of life deal with.
Such anxiety used to be much worse. I used to panic months in advance about the flights and whether the planes would stay in the air. I’d worry about how many stories I had to write to be considered successful at the event.
Now, it seems, my issue has narrowed to the obsession with simply getting from points A to B.
It’s progress, but I can’t help feeling stupid when I succumb to a pressure no one instigated but me.