I think the bravest thing someone does sometimes is show up. Not go fight in a war. Not stand up to a bully. Not shoot a bow and arrow through some sort of coronation ring. Nope. Not any of those things that is typically considered a brave thing to do.
I’m talking about showing up to an event. People take one look at you and start sizing you up. You haven’t even opened your mouth yet and you are being judged by every eye in the room. At least all the sober ones. (Let’s be honest. The inebriated ones ain’t gonna remember you after it’s all over.)
I was at a party over the weekend and I felt brave for showing up. I knew the host and a couple other people on the guest list, but the majority of the people on the guest list I did not know. Right before going I had this nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach like the kind of feeling you get if you’re a quiet one like me and sitting in class hoping the teacher doesn’t call on you or the kind of nervous feeling you get before having to give an oral presentation to the class.
Showing up to a party where you don’t know most of the people is in a way, going to battle. You don’t know what these people think of you from how you act to what you say to what you’re wearing. You shouldn’t care what these people think, but there’s always a part of you that will no matter how many parties you’ve been to. Once they’ve met you, it’s all over. You can’t change what they first think of you or go back in time and make them not ever know you.
You may walk away without them remembering you, but you now exist in the world to them and there’s no way to make them think you don’t exist. Even if they forget about the party, meeting you will inevitably come back up in their memory, filed away with all the other fuzzy party memories. It just takes a key to unlock that drawer and once Tinker Bell comes flying out of there, ain’t no way of stopping a mixed up memory from surfacing, like trying to tell the difference between a thimble and a hidden kiss.
I got a text from a girl friend asking me if I wanted “in” on going out to the bars. There was promise of green beers and other such St. Patrick Day’s things I can’t remember exactly now. I politely declined because it was a weeknight and I had to get up early for work tomorrow. She politely understood.
I don’t remember how long ago that was, but I remember a little of how I felt when I got that text, like it was so predictable she would invite me out. Like it suited her to be going out and it suited me to be staying in. I wasn’t always like that.
We had just finished a tournament and we were trying to find our way back to the van so we could get some fuel for our bodies. Somehow I had injured my foot so we were going kind of slow. All of a sudden we found ourselves in the middle of a parade of people wearing green. At the front of the line was this guy who wanted a light. He saw me and came up to me to ask for one. Being a non-smoker, I had to tell him, “no.” He looked disappointed with my response and the girl next to him didn’t look too thrilled he was talking to me. I was relieved though. That meant he had someone waiting for him, the type of commitment from a guy I was not looking for at the time. Afterwards, my teammate asked me if I knew “that guy.”
I don’t remember what street we were on, but I remember the smoker was wearing a green top hat. I wondered if he was really Irish because he didn’t look it to me. Looks can be deceiving though.
I just sat down and Emma White* said to the class, “How come none of the Asians are wearing green?” Then she glanced over at me in my green sweater and goes, “Good job, YuMin!” I felt good about myself, the way you instantly feel better when someone gives you a high five.
This happened in seventh grade and for some reason, every year on this day I think of it.
*name has been altered to protect identity
Going into Django Girls KC I didn’t know what to expect, but I did know I wanted to learn something new, meet new people, and have fun no matter what I’m doing. Mission accomplished!
The weekend of June 24-June 26, 2016 is one I will not soon forget. Part of being a developer is knowing how to solve problems using the computer, or how to be a hacker. Friday night at the install party I learned my first lesson in problem-solving: how to find the table I’m assigned to. Luckily for me, I made my first friend when I noticed someone just as lost as I was. With a little teamwork, we found our table, met the ladies we would be spending the weekend with and of course, our awesome mentor. It became clear right away teamwork would be one of the biggest themes of the workshop.
From getting Python installed to working through the Django Girls tutorial to socializing and networking with women in the IT field, it all comes down to how willing you are to ask for and accept help when you run into problems. While working through the tutorial, you need a lot of patience and it’s like what one of our mentors said, “You will get error messages, but you have the most fun when you find a new error message.”
I found it’s quite satisfying when you get a “It worked!” message. While I did not complete the whole tutorial on Saturday, I’m glad it’s available online and I can complete it at any time. The best part was making new friends and knowing this is only an introduction and I would not become a developer overnight. On top of that, as I listened to what each mentor had to say about volunteering at this workshop, I started to see not only do we need more women in this field, but also empowering women extends beyond this field into any field that may typically be dominated by men. It’s empowering to realize that yes, maybe as women we are built physically different from men, but there is no limit to what field we can go into. What this weekend taught me is you never know until you try. Why should we let men have all the fun?
I am so grateful to all the ladies and gents who lent their time to help me throughout this first-time coding experience. Who knows what step of the tutorial I would still be stuck on without them! And at the end of the day, it’s nice to go out to an arcade bar to put “work hard, play hard” into practice. 🙂
Google Fiber sponsor speaker
Be grateful for clean air in America. Be grateful for a visible blue sky in America. Be grateful for the freedom to be whoever you want to be in America.
My friend Merj, who is known as Dr. Merjjena B. Hemp to the world, is working on a YouTube project called Complicated Conversations Post 9/11 and her latest concentration is our veterans here in the U.S. She is launching Jump 4 the Vets, a fundraiser in support of those who have done so much for our country and need a little extra help to ask for help. She will be skydiving in as many states as she can to do something bold, courageous, and unstoppable for our veterans who were once bold, courageous, and unstoppable.
Oh, and one more thing. You can find me about 4.5 minutes in talking about how you can help. Be sure to check out the link at the very end of the video description:
I wanted to share with you guys my second author reading ever. It was at Orr Street Studios in downtown Columbia, MO and it was on February 17, 2015. It was part of their Hearing Voices Seeing Visions event and I remember we had a huge snowstorm right before. I sold a couple of books that night and one guy from the audience came up to me and gave me a hug after. I was so nervous I could barely look at the audience. (I was also a bit emotional as this was right before I moved to Kansas City, MO and I was cleaning out my apartment and all that jazz that comes with saying good-bye to friends.) I read from my debut YA novel, “Oil in the Wok” and my Seventeen short story, “Team Bonding.” This is not the whole reading and you’ll probably need to turn the volume up to hear it, but it’s a taste of what my first baby sounds like.
Today is the 41st anniversary of the discovery of the mountain of monarch butterflies according to the Google homepage. This discovery was made possible by thousands of volunteers keeping track of the butterflies’ flight path. Now there’s a Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Mexico. I would love to go see this someday. I knew my parents were right in suggesting me take Spanish when we had to choose a foreign language in school.
The New Year sneaks up on you like a gas leak. In mine, the only rule is there are no rules. No one goes thirsty. No one goes hungry. No one lives like they are always in someone’s way. No one acts like they are apologizing for their existence. No one dies silently. They all own it.