Today I presented at WordCamp US alongside my colleague (ok, and also technically my boss), Eurello. On Sunday, I will celebrate my 5-year anniversary at Automattic.
When I first started at Automattic, I didn’t believe I’d ever be able to talk at a WordCamp – any WordCamp – because I didn’t think that what I had to say was of any interest to others. I also didn’t really think I’d get the chance to go to many WordCamps, because I hadn’t been deeply involved with the community, and I felt shy of overstepping myself when there were real WordPress people around.
When you join Automattic, there is a protracted and dreamy honeymoon period. Mine lasted two or three years. Possibilities are endless, the connection to work is strong, the koolaid tastes good. After some time, the challenges of the job become consuming and interesting, and also tiring occasionally. The realities of the day to day become incredibly normal, and you sort of forget how you used to have to work. The incredibleness of Automattic becomes commonplace for stretches of time. The extraordinary becomes invisible. Like with children, the days are long and the years are short.
But Automattic is extraordinary, incredible, and genuinely life changing. I have grown in a lot of ways since joining Automattic, from growing into a team lead role, to becoming deeply involved in how we do suppport, to managing to care even more passionately about our vision and goals, to spending more time with my family (and really managing the hell out of all of them), and being able to find joy in my daily work. And finally, I realized that I have learned things that others can truly benefit from – beyond posts on my blog (wonderfully informative though they are), and feel it a duty to make the effort to speak publicly about what I’ve learned so others can do even better.
In the next few days, I’ll post a copy of our talk and slides here, but for the moment I want to continue to reflect on what it means for me, personally, to be able to speak at WordCamp US. I am deeply honored. Talks are selected blindly – the organizers can only see the pitch and title, not who has submitted it, nor who any of the submitters are. Being selected not because I’m an Automattician or a woman, but on the strength of the intended content is humbling. WordCamp US has, so far, the feeling of our Grand Meetup, but with more family involved. I have seen many children today and was excited that there were clear signs for a nursing room. I mean family both literally and figuratively, of course, and interacting more with genuine community members has been interesting and exciting. I spent three hours this morning staffing an information table about WooCommerce, and it was gratifying to be able to answer everyone’s questions, and give them useful ideas to move forward. Everyone I spoke to was thrilled to hear that we offer live chat as well, and I feel like more than one brow cleared when they were reassured of on-going support beyond our chat that day. I felt I had things to contribute and things to learn.
Today, I felt that I belonged.