The Ridiculously Horrible Unfortunately Successful Dopamine Hack That Boosted My Energy at the Convention

You won’t like it. I didn’t like it. But it worked.

Gray Miller
6 min readMar 9


Photo courtesy of the author.

I was finally back in my comfort zone, only I wasn’t comfortable.

In the Before-Times I used to travel all over North America, either organizing or presenting at various small conventions put on by local communities. It was rewarding, but also exhausting, and in 2019 I “retired” from the presenter/organizer game.

Good timing, as it turned out.

But I miss the excitement, so I was happy when circumstances finally made it possible for me to volunteer at one out on the East coast. I would arrive on Thursday night to help set things up, volunteer during the weekend in between attending workshops, catching up with old friends, and of course partying into the night like conventioneers tend to do.

This was how I’d started, twenty years ago, and I looked forward to recapturing that magical feeling of community and shared passion with hundreds of old friends I hadn’t met yet.

There was only one problem.

I’m not the man I used to be.

I don’t know if it was the twenty years or just the last two, but I found myself weary almost from the start. My volunteer tasks were simple (”Put these neat little trinkets and doodads in these bags so we can give them to the presenters”) and with the helpful nudge of my recently-started ADHD meds I was enjoying the simple repetition.

Except in my back, which was not happy that I was doing something other than typing, and my knees, which hadn’t appreciated lugging the carry-on through bus and airport terminals, and my head, which was getting that peculiar hollow feeling when my brain wants to be tired but the adder all won’t let it.

And that was just Thursday night.

Friday was worse. My roommate was a fine person, another volunteer, with an unfortunate low and constant snore that had kept me awake most of the night. Meanwhile my volunteer role was “floater”, which meant filling in any gaps in the schedule caused by no-shows or unexpected needs.



Gray Miller

Gray is a former Marine dancer grandpa visualist who writes to help adults figure out what they want to be when they grow up.