Write/Speak/Code 2015 – The End of Impostorism
I knew Write/Speak/Code 2015 was going to be phenomenal and it did not disappoint.
If you’re heard of or experienced that death of a thousand little cuts, Write/Speak/Code is life built through a thousand small supportive acts.
I am no longer an impostor. Hear Me Speak. Read My Words. Run My Code. (Git push origin master.)
It can be so easy to — with all the great content and awesome presentations you see on the internet, in magazines, and at conferences — to assume that there is very little that your small contribution will add to the world. Especially when you’re a newbie.
And then you’re at Write/Speak/Code on the first day of three: Write. And the speakers are nice and encouraging. And that’s helpful. And they’re acknowledging and giving voice to your doubts. And that’s nice because normally you keep your doubts in that little room inside your head, where they busily dispatch hourly updates about why you shouldn’t, how you can’t and who’s already doing that, and doing it much, much better than you ever could.
And then you’re participating in a breakout session, sharing what you are good at and expert in. Some of us (ahem) had to let everyone else share while thinking long and hard on the answer to that question. And after some more talking about writing, you’re in another breakout session, sharing information on some great resource you found, or some problem you tried to solve and couldn’t, or something you debugged.
Maybe it hit other participants at other points in the conference, but it was in that breakout session that it hit me: so many women — much more accomplished than me — were struggling with this.
I was particularly struck with a lady I will refer to as Thea, who voiced her dread of having to share a debugging process. She wasn’t a developer and didn’t have anything to share. Or so she kept insisting. Finally she shared about a problem her organization had experienced and her process for discovering, investigating and resolving.
Watching her go from “I have nothing to share” to explaining that process, I could see myself minimalizing and dismissing my expertise.
Pssst. I have something to share. You should really go to Write/Speak/Code. You should really send all of your employees there too.
What I found ingenious about the sharing is that we didn’t just sahre things like “Hey, I’m an AppleScript expert.” We also shared things like great tools we discovered recently, debugging challenges, and valuable resources we found. Things we normally might dismiss or might not even consider when thinking of things to write about.
As I’m sharing and listening to others sharing, I’m realizing that 1) we’ve all got topics to write about, but even more 2) I’m impressed with the value of what others are sharing, 3) they are doing a dance of deprecation as they share …
And then I get it. We’re all doing the same dance of deprecation and dismissal. We’re all Thea, thinking we have nothing of significant value to share.
It’s like that the other days, too. It’s so good that Day 3: Code, I’m there early even though I had to walk a few miles in the snow to get there, lugging my 24-inch monitor. (Hey, life happens … and the tech goes on.)
That week, I submitted my first two pull requests on GitHub.
I was never an impostor. None of us are.