I have been making costumes for more than 25 years, starting with Halloween and then Renn Faire and then LaRPs and with some community theaters. Sadly, I left the Renn Faire and LaRP and theater communities many years ago to pursue love. About the only reason I have to do costuming any more is commissions from friends, Halloween, and Dragoncon.
Given how much audience exposure I've had at Renn Faires, you wouldn't think I have a problem with shyness, but I'm only slightly better in front of a crowd than I was in my speech class when I nearly passed out in front of the podium. In the SCA we used to joke about "freaking the mundanes," but these days I get really uncomfortable imagining the reaction to walking in public in a costume.
This past Dragoncon, I went completely in mundane clothing and hated it. I've decided that I have 12 months to get myself physically and emotionally camera-ready to fix it next Labor Day. In order to do that, I need to join a community of people who are totally comfortable being what I want to be. I figure if I immerse myself here, it'll help me become relaxed when connecting with strangers.
So please go on being as open and friendly and helpful and welcoming, because I will be really grateful for a big dose of you!