It wasn’t what they were expecting. I called it the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie talk. I baked in a discussion about gender equality within the title “Creative Development.” I think someone in the second row rolled their eyes.
It was probably the 8th or 9th time I’ve been on stage. It’s always so hard to begin the speech you’ve been feverishly obsessing over. The last nine months, since Low asked if I’d speak, were filled of notebooks and research and outlines and more outlines. I was a proper freak stopping a TED talk or an audiobook to jot down a point I wanted to expand on or integrate in my talk. I spent more than a few meetings scribbling notes to myself in Evernote, only partially related to the meeting topic but relevant to a future conversation I would have with myself first, and an audience second.
After a few hiccups and akward moments, it began to flow. Stats, Stories, Ideas. Youtube excerpts. Comics. Scientists. I knew all the content, I just wanted to nail the delivery.
Perhaps I didn’t “nail” it, exactly. It felt more like a piece of art hung on the wall with a sticky hook, but it was well received. I was so wrapped up in my own nerves that it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth man that approached me for advice when I realized something shifted: They were asking about their girlfriends, wives, daughters, employees. They wanted to support their female companions, they just didn’t know how.
At that moment I realized how at home I was in this community. This space, I’ve written about before, those “like brothers who buy you beer,” were sincerely supportive. My mind relaxed in a puddle of gratitude. We expanded on ideas, I let them know all that I’ve read, or experienced, or heard. 100% of women developers needed a mentor to push them in the field. Was it necessary to be a women mentor? No. Could it be her father, brother, husband? Yes. We just wanted support and here they were: the fathers, brothers, husbands, asking “What can I do?”
In two words, “encourage her.”
In many more words there we debates and discussion and ideas for more ideas. We talked long, long in to the night at the canal side at the favourite bar. We stood in the cold until our lips shivered and then we moved to the warmth of the shelter, where we watched the World Cup Football match a few days previously. It was there we finally called it a night, warm from booze and light and happiness and friendship. Men hugged an extra beat just to prove that it was possible and the ladies cussed an extra beat just to prove we were all alike.
I walked to my hotel room smiling stupidly. These days are always so high on the list of the Best Days of My Life. I bust in to a Green Day song once alone in my room. It doesn’t really matter which one. I tied a ribbon to this night, to this week, and wrapped it in my tree of bests to hold on to when the waves of frustrations, deadlines, reality, insecurity, and distance wash me over again. For one week, for one day, for one night, I felt like I was making a difference beyond my own little world. Inside jokes, geeky code humor, and tearful laughter included.
In short, I fell in love with all the people, all the discussions, all the experience, all the things.
All the things.
Made With Code
…. adding on more soon…..