A year ago I was landing at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam to give my first international talk at LaraconEu. I didn’t know anyone at the time and had decided a couple of months before to become more integrated in the community, and to be more vocal about diversity in tech.
While I was there I met wonderful people. Since I was not well known (to be honest I am still not), and lots of big names from the PHP community were there, I was very intimidated. Kayla Daniels definitely broke the shell that surrounded me and helped to make friends with other people like: Frank de Jonge, Scott Wilcox, Michelle Sanver, Igor Wiedler. After that many, many other people from the community became my friends as slowly I grew on them and them on me.
For too long I was without friends. I am still failing at it sometimes, as it is an exchange. You listen to people, people listen to you; you tell about your worries and ask for advice, and more often than not you may find yourself giving advice to people; and at some point in a friendship the advice stops being requested and you just know what you must give them. People get lost on that path, and I do too, because, seriously, who in their right mind would want to listen to my shitty ideas?
To some extent I can say that experience was for me a religious equivalent of finding God (I am not a believer, but I respect all religious beliefs). Such a journey of selfknowledge caused a chain reaction. I am not going to dwell on details of my private life right now (not that I am reserved person, I am not), but those close enough to me know.
It wasn’t an easy year, I think it wasn’t easy for anyone from what I can remember, and I can’t imagine how I would be after this emotional roller coaster without the support I received. Other people also helped, and they weren’t there, they were people I got close after because of other conferences or common friends. For instance Margaret Staples, I think she is one of the people I most owe an apology. She is always available to talk, and I feel I am not being enough of a good friend to her (although she totally disagrees because I am an awesome friend). So, Margaret, I am sorry. I am improving, I promise you. By the way, thanks for the elePHPants <3 and thank you Davey Shafik for mailing them :D.
Another person I can’t thank enough is Kayla, she reminded me what friendship is, and how important that is. As for Igor, I love bullshitting with you, we are good on that, but he is the one who shows me how integrity should be, and is the one that makes me have faith in humanity again.
The message I want to convey is: be aware of your actions; we are impacting people. Whether you like it or not you may be the role model for someone. And be open to change; change is good, we learn a lot from it, mostly from ourselves.