So, anyone that knows me will tell you I am a worrier and have major confidence issues. I have a real fear of leaving myself open to criticism, this can be an intimidating industry sometimes. Previously I have tried to avoid public speaking, letting other people see my code and putting myself in new social situations. In the last week I have done pretty much all scary things in one go!
I recently got involved with organising Ladies of Code Glasgow, an international set of meetups encouraging women to join and stay in the tech industry. As the new Glasgow meetup organiser, I was asked to speak at our first “Speaker series”... I was terrified. Being a ladies developer meetup, we want speakers to be women when possible so I thought I’d try to take the “If you can’t see it, you can’t be it” approach. If I get up there and give a talk, even if I fail miserably, then hopefully other ladies will give it a go too! Luckily, I had a really busy couple of weeks leading up to this and didn’t have too much time to overthink it. In the past I have had panic attacks at the thought of even just giving a demo to the developers I work with, so this was a major breakthrough for me!
I gave an introduction to Open Source and how it affects me as a web developer then started a conversation in the group on contributing to open source. I felt like a bit of a fraud as I hadn’t done this myself… yet (spoilers!). The feedback was positive and I managed not to panic and run out the door, so I’ll take that as a win.
Open Source Contribution
The next day I was up way too early and on a flight to London for the UK Umbraco Festival. Day one was a Hackathon where we looked up the issue backlog and tried to fix them, contributing back to the project we all use in our day to day projects.
Bit of a back story, I get really self conscious about showing my code to people and struggle majorly with imposter syndrome. However, getting over this and contributing to an open source project is a goal I had set myself so I decided to go along to the hackathon.
It all started off well, I got the solution running on my machine and started to understand the structure of the solution. I found an issue I could fix and was ready to go! Then it turned into a nightmare between my environment not working (Grunt task not updating the JS logic in browser) and my confidence issues appearing again… I just started to psych myself out and decided it was because I was stupid. So the hackathon came to an end and no contribution made by me.
Trying to be social
After the Hackathon was the Umbraco London meetup and a chance to go to the pub and catch up away from our laptops. People think that because I am quite chatty once in a conversation that I am confident in social settings, I am not. It takes loads of effort and meeting new people is exhausting mentally for me. That said, the Umbraco community is really nice and welcoming so it makes this a little less daunting.
Going to Code Garden earlier in the year really helped with this: travelling abroad, meeting all new people and chatting about techy stuff for 3 days. After that, I can do anything, right?! It definitely helped at UK festival that I already knew some people and it was awesome to catch up, even if I was tired and grumpy from my lack of sleep and confidence dent from hacking.
Umbraco UK Festival
The next day was another early start for a run around London with some fellow conference attendees, running is a good way to be social for me as it's something I know I can do and awkward silences are fine because we are all just trying to catch our breath.
This was my first time attending the UK festival, it was a busy day of learning and chatting with other Umbraco users. The only bad thing is there were too many talks and not enough time so I look forward to catching up with the videos.
Open Source Contribution- attempt 2
After I caught up on sleep and had a relaxing weekend, I decided to see why my build wasn’t working properly and try again to fix my issue. It turned out I just needed to upgrade Node and I HAD been looking in exactly the right line of code at the Hackathon (lesson- trust your instinct). So I made my 1 line change and submitted a pull request in Github! Yay!
… then it got accepted. Double yay!!!
Look, it's me in the contributors list :)
TLDR; Doing new things is way scary and tiring, but it is worth it.