The first day in San Francisco for RSA and BSidesSF is done, and I’m happy to report being a lot more comfortable in my sobriety than I’ve been at past conference gatherings.
Right after I got sober at the end of 2009, these networking events were difficult for me. A couple drinks used to loosen my nerves and bring me out of my shell, and it took a long time to learn how to do that without alcohol.
Tonight’s big gathering was at a place called The Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar, in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel. I got there early and left early, staying long enough to say hello to as many friends as I could find. I felt at ease and comfortable — significant progress for me.
I might have stayed longer, but a friend needed help getting back to his hotel, so I flagged down a cab and got him back to his room. I was glad I had the mental clarity to do that for him.
Folks in the security community are generally aware of my sobriety at this point, so I didn’t have to worry about friends offering me drinks like last year and the year before. When your skin doesn’t fit right, acts of kindness and friendship — offering a drink, for example — strike you as menacing. Newly sober people are the most uptight individuals on the planet.
I’m thankful to be getting past that stage. Now I can focus on improving other things about myself. But first thing’s first — there’s a conference to cover.