Lessons from ElaConf and BarCamp Philly

I tend to write pretty long-winded blog posts, but for some reason today, I just want to type up a  short, brief list(which of course ended up being longer than I expected) . Over the past two weeks I had the opportunity to attend both ElaConf (a conference for women in technology), and BarCamp Philly (a local “unconference” which encourages members of the tech community to prepare the schedule upon their arrival at the event). I came in excited to learn and prepared to meet at least one new person, and I left friendless, tried, but full of knowledge.  Here are a few things I learned from both experiences:

  • It’s okay to skip the after party
    • Like I said, I was exhausted and overwhelmed after both conferences. I made halfhearted walks to the bars where the after-parties were being held. I ended up leaving after a few minutes on wandering around the venues. For me the loud noised and dark atmosphere was almost unbearable. I have a very quiet voice, so the last thing I want to do is scream my lungs out in order to have a simple conversation. I badly wanted to add a few more people to my social circle, but I realized sometimes you have to listen to your conscious when uncertainty hits you. People can read when others are uncomfortable.
  • Bee keeping is cool
    • The second talk I heard from BarCamp was from a woman named Abigail Fretz. She was a urban beekeeper, a term I had never heard of in my life. For 45 minutes she talked about the joys of beekeeping, wonders of honey, and the startup costs/education needed to join the community of honey loving enthusiasts. My eyes widened with childlike wonder as I listened to her talk. I live in the suburbs, but I’m sure if a family in Lancaster and a woman in Philadelphia can raise honey bees, I can do it too. I just need to take a few classes next year….
  • Confidence is key to success
    • This seems very obvious, but for somebody with low self-esteem, believing in myself is harder than it looks. There’s a mental battle (between fear and confidence) that needs to be won before you can say “If I can dream it, I can do it”. No matter how many people I meet or how many new topics I learn each day, how I carry myself matters. Nothing can be accomplished if I’m fighting a mental war. Potential connections would be missed, and opportunities would be lost. For me,  confidence is a mesmerizing magnet, it just naturally attracts people. I personally know that some of my favorite figures in literature  and media have this characteristic. Since I graduated from college in 2014, I’ve began to realize (the hard way) “nobody is going to care about you as much as you will”.
  • It’s okay to be vulnerable sometimes
    • Women are often negatively stereotyped as being weak and overemotional. I know I often cry far too often in times of trouble. However, I don’t think wearing your heart on your sleeve has to be embarrassing. It shows humanity. It proves you are empathetic (which can be valuable in certain career fields). Bottling up your feelings is never healthy and could cause mental burnout later down the line. Instead of minimizing your feelings, try to analyze them instead. You might find they reveal something about yourself or your situation.
  • Uber is wonderful!
    • I’m pretty sure I wrote about my first UBER experience, but I am continually amazed with how convenient and cost-efficient the service is for a non-driver like myself. Riding in a car for 10 minutes is so much better than stumbling around for 1 hour in a unfamiliar area. The only mistake I made was picking UBERPool during one of my trips to ElaConf. I saved myself $10, but the ride took at least 45 minutes, and I was almost late for my first talk. I guess sometimes you have to sacrifice time for monetary savings!

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