Conventions, the fun ones anyway, are a great way to bring several people together to share an experience over a common interest. Most of you reading this, when you hear the word "Convention", many things associated with the word immediately pop into your mind: cosplay, swag, booths, parties, demos, hotels, merchandise, press, celebrities, lines, etc. But what is more important than the substance of the conventions (especially exciting nerd-based ones like PAX and Comic-con) are the feelings you get before, during, and even after.
If you are a regular convention-goer like myself, the very second one is over, you begin to think about plans for the next. You start planning your costume design, or finding a cheaper and more convenient hotel to stay at, or the ever challenging attempts to get your friends to come along with you. If you're a little more specific in how you spend your convention time, you may spend the time to put together a bad-ass Magic deck, or maybe you need to prep a script for a fan panel. Either way, whether you're a regular attendee or a exhibitor, an upcoming convention gets you off your fanny to do something you may not have had the drive to do on a regular day.
Conventions definitely bring out that creative and productive sides in a lot of people, you'll see costumes that will blow Halloween out of the water, tournament driven passion that could match those of Japanese warlords in the ages of their civil war, and extravagant booth displays to get people hyped for a product that you are proud to display. While you're wandering around you'll often hear people in passing starting conversations with "Oh man, next year I am so going to..."
For people like me, it's the panels that really hit home. You look upon the list of presentations, excitement filling you like it did when you were a 5 year old tearing through the pages of a Toys-r-us Christmas issue, circling with sharpie the ones that look interesting. These are the lifeblood of a good convention. You get to see people who are living a successful life doing what you want to do, and you can ask them how they became so awesome! Nothing can compare with meeting a hero of yours and hearing them tell you how simple (not easy) it all really is.
Taking that newly refreshed revelation, that super-charged feeling of inspiration, home with you after you have been totally drained of all physical and mental energy due to an awesome weekend, is one of the greatest pieces of swag you could ever nab from a convention. Transforming the advice and visual stimuli you received into a product of your own creativity, in turn discovering something that you too, can be proud to show off. You could even someday host your own panel and inspire a new handful of young minds down the road.
What I'm trying to get at here, in my five paragraphs of rambling, is that Conventions are amazing events that contribute more to the lives of its attendees than a swag bag and a weekend of alcohol poisoning. It gives all of us a difference in perspective, a little piece of mind, and most of all, a flux of inspiration to do something great. So do yourselves a favor and when convention time comes, use it to learn something new and make your own way to a more enriched life filled with fun and adventure in a world more awesome than it was before you went to that one memorable convention.