I have been writing a lot lately. Not in terms of productive or technical writing but just scribbles here and there about little things, some poetry, some tangential prose. I’m reading sections of The Gloria Anzaldúa Reader lately and Anzaldúa speaks often to the power of writing. Example:
Why am I compelled to write? Because the writing saves me from this complacency I fear. Because I have no choice. Because I must keep the spirit of my revolt and myself alive. Because the world I create in the writing compensates for what the real world does not give me […] I write because life does not appease my appetites and hunger […] To become more intimate with myself and you.
Anzaldúa writes beautifully and compellingly, but it isn’t just from pure talent. It’s from a praxis in the way she held herself in the world and held others to be in the world. But that praxis includes a regimen of writing about personal and societal issues and using the writing as a way to stay accountable to yourself and others.
This week I decided to write thank you notes to all the people who have been so supportive of me this last year, especially to my mentors in my chosen switch from economics and international development to coding, programming, and tech. There are many people involved beyond my support network in Seattle as well. My online communities, specifically CodeNewbies, The Odin Project, and Free Code Camp have been great resources for me to feel welcome and easy into the language and culture of tech.
I have been particularly struck and humbled by the way women in this field build and cultivate community and are so welcoming of others into it. From what I’ve seen in the community so far, part of the reason this is true is because it takes a lot of support to make it as a woman developer. I have been so blessed to find amazing communities in Girl Develop It meetups, talking to women at community events, and all the great online groups for women. Let me just tell you, there are definitely women in tech. They are doing amazing work and often get overshadowed by the entire conversation about diversity. While there is still work to be done, sometimes I think that highlighting the work of those already there is also key to inspiring a new generation of women to study/stay in STEM.
Beyond all the direct support from family, friends, and my new community of women in tech here in Seattle, I’ve been surprised and taken aback by how many people have approached me since I put up this blog to give advice or connect me with someone who also codes. I have been struck by how much I get back by putting myself out there. I won’t lie, this past month since I graduated has been a little nerve-racking. I graduated from college with a degree in economics, I should be doing something besides washing dishes at a Jesuit house and staring at my computer, right? But here’s the thing: I love coding. I love the problem solving and that I actually get to build tools that will do awesome things with data. And I have the privilege and space given to me by a full-ride to college and a supportive and loving community of friends to keep at this and make something out of it. So I have to do that. It’s that thought, and writing, that keeps me coding.
Code on, and have a fantastic 4th of July weekend.
However! While your celebrating “independence” please remember that independence was not granted to everyone 239 years ago and the full rights and privileges of that independence are still not extended to everyone today. Some fun listening for this holiday weekend: