The Cliff Notes
I believe there’s a lot of magic out there in the world, but we don’t get to see it by staying in our comfort zones.
In fact, the MORE we feel ourselves resisting doing something, the MORE that means it’s something we NEED to do. And so we can use our fear as a compass to what we really should be doing. To creating that art that we’re going to feel proud of because it defines who we are and allows us to put ourselves out there as something more than just one of the faceless masses.
For me – growing up, the first thing that I really identified with was being a writer. I was forever running off and hiding someplace so that I could write stories or plays or poetry.
And then, when I was 8, my Dad bought me a computer and I learned a new kind of writing. I learned to write CODE and became an 8 year old games developer.
Later, when I graduated college in 1994, it was during the dot com era and the Internet was still SO young. It opened up so many possibilities for what could be done. I began writing code for startups who were leading the way. I was building these things that NOBODY had ever built before. It was such a rush.
When the dot com bubble burst, I went from being on the bleeding edge where I felt I was really making a difference to… I don’t know, feeling really lost. I wanted to keep making an impact, but I didn’t know how to do that on my own.
I ended up at a new company that turned out to be VERY into conformity. We each had our own little box that we fit into. I was a programmer. Therefore, I wrote code, but not blog posts.
I decided I just needed to move away from everything to the middle of nowhere. Someone called it my Hero’s Journey because it was terrifying to leave this place that I’d spent my whole life, that was all that I knew. And yet, it was only by moving away from all of that I knew that I was able to actually discover who I was and really come into myself.
I started writing more of my ideas. And by getting away, I no longer felt held back by how OTHERS thought I should write and think and act.
I even started my own blog. I called it The Hacker Chick Blog because, I’m just a hacker chick, what the hell do I know?
It was terrifying until I realized that nobody would ever possibly find it amongst the millions of billions of blogs out there. But… people did.
Microsoft came to me and said we LOVE what you’re doing in the developer community. We want you to do that for us. We want you to be our EVANGELIST for startups.
I had this image in my head of Evangelists as rockstars. These people who are so outgoing and confident and charismatic. The EXACT opposite of me. How could I possibly go out and do this?
But, I did and this funny thing happened. By allowing myself to be in this position that I perceived as being a rockstar… that FEELING of being a rockstar – it gave me permission to go out and be AWESOME. To do all sorts of things that my previous, non-rockstar self never would have done.
I became a bit of a junkie for doing things that terrify me. I got to open my very own hacker space, which was SO COOL. And crazy awesome places like MIT had me come in and talk about how to build tech startups. And now Harvard (!) made me their Hacker in Residence for their Innovation Lab, where I get to help students build better technology.
Of course, any time we start pushing ourselves to leap over this gap between who we are and who we want to be, sometimes we’re going to fall. Like my hacker space… I’m no longer there. Or my book attempt, which turned out more anxiety attacks then actual words.
But I believe it’s SO important to TRY and by doing so, to put ourselves out there into the world.
I mean, It’s terrifying – but it’s also what makes the world beautiful. And I don’t think anything compares to being part of that beauty because we’re contributing a piece of ourselves back into it