I have a million amazing stickers I have collected from my running conferences, meetups, and travelling to many of my friends at other events.
I also like a clean aesthetic, and have therefore resisted covering my new(er) lappy with them.
I realized this week that some people really -do- judge books/lappies/people by their cover. My prior laptop was smeared with all the stickers and excitement I felt as I first jumped into programming professionally. As I’ve grown, I’ve scaled back the sheer overeagerness to balance my own taste/preferences.
It’s taught me a few things.
(1) I jump headfirst into things so overwhelmingly that I can lose myself a little as I try to embrace something wholeheartedly without judgement. This is fine for trying a thing out, but I need to do better at protecting my own boundaries or I’ll find reconciling an interest with my other values/priorities quite difficult down the road. I get swallowed up and am unhappy later when I’m feeling distanced from myself.
(2) Programmers can be oddly superficial. It is frustrating that I must plaster my laptop with tech stickers or wear t-shirts with neck-beardish tech references in order to be taken seriously at first introduction. This doesn’t cease even -after- I’ve discussed what I do for a living in detail(web engineer). Turns out, the whole “this is what a programmer looks like” meme might have something to it.
I don’t discount I have room to improve how I communicate my work, but it’s the old fail-safe to assume that when one is at a tech event in a circle conversing, everyone in that circle is smart, capable, and in tech. Here’s another little tip that might blow your mind: just because someone’s job title isn’t engineer doesn’t mean they can’t program nor tell when you’re totally full of shit.
I didn’t feel a lot of these issues when I first started programming professionally, because I embraced programmer culture so fully that I ended up wearing the costume better. As i’ve grown in asserting to myself that I -am- a programmer regardless of what I look like or brag about(or don’t), I’ve become more aware of what I’d given up to fit in. I’m working on reconciling that now.
This means that I’m likely to be in a conversation at your meetup or your conference and I’m going to attempt to reframe conversations when they steer towards making a person from an underrepresented group feel like they’re on the outside looking in.
A programmer is a programmer--regardless of look, title, or how much they aren’t willing to brag about it.