Ela Conf 2017

November 1st, 2017

Ela Conf this year was everything I could have hoped for and more. I have come out empowered, refreshed, and filled with newfound confidence that most certainly was not there a week prior.

It was so refreshing seeing people I saw from last year, people who remembered me! For some reason, I tend to get in the mindset that if I don’t see a certain person for a while in-person, even if we talk on Twitter, they’ll forget me… so it was so refreshing and nice to feel like a part of the community and to be welcomed back to ela conf with open arms. It further showcases to me that the ela community is the real deal filled with genuine, supportive people!

Although every event felt magical in its own way, if I had to pick the most inspiring/memorable part of the conference, it would be the keynote by the amazing Zalyndria Crosby. I never have felt so moved or have listened to such an awe-inspiring story. To be so vulnerable in front of us, to share such a heartfelt story… I’m not sure if there’s anything more brave than that. It made me reflect on my own values and question “who do I want to be?” Everyday, I stress myself out regarding career goals, figuring out how to become “successful”, wondering if I’m doing enough or worth anything at all. Her talk was a reminder that as a kid, I had a definite vision of who I wanted to be… a healer as well. I want to make people happy, I want to take away people’s pain, even if it’s just a matter of giving someone a smile or encouraging nod when they seem unsure of themselves. I want to emulate that in everything I do. I believe that I do subconsciously to an extent, and always have (probably why I went into nursing as my first career choice before I decided to transition into tech), but sometimes it’s good to be reminded of this, to see if my actions match up with my values so I can “measure” my “success” in a completely important, nontraditional American manner.

I was also so happy to see Rachel McGrane’s powerful (and hilarious) talk on gender inclusivity on the web! She did amazing and it was super exciting to see person after person stopping and congratulating her on her talk, or talk about ways they are going to implement her ideas into their day jobs. I’m sure the fact that these talks have power to influence the way a company writes their software to be more inclusive is such an empowering feeling.

I was absolutely in love with the breakout session Miriam Peskowitz gave on finding your tech voice in writing! I admit that I have found it super hard to get into a regular routine of writing. Much of this is due to the fact that I tend to be way too much of a perfectionist about nearly everything I do, including writing. However, her session reminded me “perfectionism is a waste of time” and sometimes striving for “mediocracy” isn’t such a bad thing! She discussed how many young professionals think they have to be excellent at everything… and it will just exhaust you. I definitely can attest to this. Because of her session, I am willing to own up to my “mediocre” blog post and am just happy to have accomplished that! I have made it my goal to write one blog post a month going forward. If I can write more than that, awesome, but setting the bar low will lower the stress barrier to get me started.

The other breakout session that was super beneficial to me was the goal-setting workshop held by Laura Webb, Alicia Raciti, and Kristen Gallagher. I loved the honest and gentle tone that workshop took on– that it’s important to set goals for yourself, but there is absolutely no benefit in beating yourself up if you don’t meet a certain goal. Also, sometimes life events happen that make it difficult or even impossible to meet your goals. Because of this session, I have now set goals for myself to follow through with and have a buddy (that’s you Kyle!) I will check in with to make sure I’m kept on track. I’m also going to check in with him to make sure he’s on track for the goals he sets, too! I will also utilize the #goals channel in the ela slack. I realize how very important it is to have this support. For example, one of the goals I set for myself this week is to workout everyday before work. I woke up this Monday really not feeling like exercising. I was lazily looking through my phone apps, went to the ela Slack #goals channel, and I saw lots of lovely people listing their goals. It was enough to inspire me to get out of bed and start exercising! So far this week, I’ve met my goal everyday. Whenever I feel like not meeting a certain goal, I’ll open up ela slack and find inspiration from other amazing people who are trying to make changes in their lives too. However, I will also keep in mind that I will not beat myself up if I don’t meet my goal!

There were so many more magical experiences and talks that had a positive impact on me at ela conf– I could write for days. I am so thankful and privileged to have the opportunity to attend with my fellow Pittsburgher friends, Lindsay and Rachel. Thank you, everyone, who made this opportunity available to so many people. Thank you to the organizers, Joni, LeeAnn, Katy, Arti, and Shanise, for changing lives and doing all that you do, tirelessly, nearly every day of the year, so I and so many others can feel empowered by this event. You are all inspirational leaders and without all your hard work, I would not be writing this blog post right now. Thanks a million ❤️