Meetups are hard…

Moving things around

I decided I wanted to continue blogging even though i’ve spent a lot of time training for the triathlon in May. Here is what my calendar looks like these days:

I recently moved some things around to attend two meetups this week. Meetup is a website where you can find events happening in your area based on your interest. I found two consecutive events this week and figured i’d sacrifice some morning hours for the evening gatherings this past Tuesday and Wednesday.

The first was very intimate, a few people gathered around a long table at a local diner. Talk varied but had moments of deep intellectual thought about programming and complexities in Big O notation. Many things were way over my head and I felt out of my league most of the time. Many of the participants had many more years experience than I did. As the time passed topics began to widen, and being someone who normally goes to bed at 7:45, 9PM was difficult to manage, and I left feeling a bit overwhelmed and tired. On a positive note I shared my website and someone left a very kind comment!

The following night I attended an event only a block away from where I work. The location was a large hall with red brick and designer light bulbs. A sea of fold out chairs in the center, bookends on the left and right were a bar with free beer and a table of baked snacks and other various finger foods. It was sponsored by AT&T and a local business. This was a “tech” meetup, so anything mildly related to a computer was fair game. The speakers talked about their services, products, and programs. Some sincerity came across as genuine, some moments more like advertisements. I  watched the cliches congregate into their circles, and I felt alone.

I walked out of the building feeling like I had a lot of time to make up for. It is hard not feeling this way. It’s important to be reminded this is only an illusion. The beauty of programming is in it’s ability to stack many rules, one upon another, to create amazing things. Once these rules are learned you are positioned to be like any other programmer, at any meetup. Building friendships and getting to know other programmers is not as linear, but can be done with time and patience.

So I hope one day to speak at an event. I’ll talk about some highly technical topic, or program, or my story on how I became a programmer, and i’ll finish my talk with this:

“You might be at this event, just starting out, and you might feel like you’re alone…”

“…and the truth is you are.”

“But it doesn’t have to be forever.”

Thank you.

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