As the eve of this major birthday approaches, I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately
I’ve been having a hard time pinpointing what is bothering me so much about it. Yes, everyone knows how disturbing it is in our society for a woman to turn 40. Fortunately I was never the cheerleader, or the beauty queen, or an extrovert, so the tendency to avoid cameras (especially video) isn’t anything new to me… so why the ridiculous feelings?
This morning, I had a break-through.
As I’m watching many around me hit the same birthday this year, the ones having real struggles are those who have either lost, abandoned, or never truly found their passion for [something]. Some are trying to get it back by starting a band; Others might buy a car, or whatever cliché things we all hear happen during big birthdays, but an all-too-common thing to do, starting right around this birthday, seems to be trading passion for a pastime, and it’s something I want no part of.
It was in my last decade that I discovered my passion. I became a programmer late in life, after another career.
I feel a child-like wonder & appreciation for the joy I feel solving programming problems.
During the first 7 years of my 30s, while becoming a mommy (twice), I was a new programmer.
If you’ve had kiddos, you know it really affects the time you have for other people. I always thought my own mother was so uncool when I’d ask her for her old 70s clothes for costumes & she’d tell me she didn’t do all that – she was having babies (but she had a closet full of
muumuus caftans* – what!?!?).
I get it now.
I was 30 when my first was born, and 34 for the 2nd one. I literally left society in a way I could not have comprehended prior. My life was about being at work or taking care of babies (or getting the baby weight off), and a surprising thing happened.
When I tried to reenter society as a person (differentiating from mommy), I could no longer talk to most people in society about what interested me.
Unless I wanted to talk about poopie, cleaning, or gardening, I had very few people who didn’t shut me down. I wanted to talk about tech. I wanted to talk about programming. Have you ever tried to talk to someone at a PTA meeting about anonymous delegates vs lambda syntax? Yeah, I don’t recommend it. I didn’t stop talking to people because I’m a loner. I stopped talking to people because I “knew” they wouldn’t want to talk about what I wanted to talk about. Sure, I could & can fake it, but it takes a lot of energy for me to do that; energy I’d rather spend solving my next programming challenge.
The Gift My Unique Viewpoint Gave Me
I feel like I was given this amazing gift of appreciation for the tech Community that would be easy to take for granted (you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it).
I see others who get caught up in the grind of living up to expectations & keeping up with technology, unable to see that we’re the luckiest introverts to have ever lived. Twitter allows us to spew 140 chars of esoteric programming “nonsense” & get coherent responses. Twitter allows us to connect with people like us. We’re not “normal.” Programmers are delightfully “not normal” in wonderful & inspiring ways.
For YEARS I thought I didn’t really like [most people in general] because they didn’t have any interest in talking about what lit a fire under me. The all-too-common “oh you’re talking tech – I can barely turn on my computer” shut-me-down reaction created a HUGE and powerful fear that made me start to be afraid to even TRY to meet new people. I’m grateful I was able to capture some of these feelings in my first post about community, especially since I feel so very different now.
Entering the community as an older, married person also made many of the gender issues something I don’t encounter. What I see instead is the wonderful, protective community looking out for each other & making sure that anyone who makes another one of us feel like an outsider due to a specific incident doesn’t do it again.
Back to the Topic
What’s bothering me the most about this birthday is really the fear that I’ll be expected to lose my childlike wonder & stop asking the questions I’m currently not afraid to ask… the questions that are so important to ask to have a breakthrough that enables me to move on to the next learning challenge.
What’s bothering me about this birthday is the fear that someone’s perception might change from “oh let me help & mentor this n00b” to “she’s old – she should know that.”
What’s bothering me about this birthday is I’m older than Scott Hanselman & Scott Guthrie (Hanselman, my friend, you simply MUST stop talking about how old you are – you’re giving us complexes out here. View it instead as, you’ve done an incredible amount in the first 2/5th of your life… Anyone, any age, with kids is allowed to say, ‘get off my lawn,” though, because it’s so funny).
Ok I lost it a little with that tangent, forgive me =)
What’s bothering me about this birthday will hopefully prove to be looked back on the same way I can now see my at-the-time feelings I captured in that first blog post: powerful, real & irrational.
Let’s Rock This Thing
My 30s have been amazing. I’m going to honor them & welcome in the next decade with open arms…right after my mid-life crisis is over =P
The fact that The .NET Rocks! Visual Studio 2012 Launch Road Trip will be in Dallas, doing a 4-hour show (with a 2-hour after-party following) ON MY ACTUAL BIRTHDAY (which also falls on a Saturday – what are the odds) just really rocks. It’s crazy how much I’m now looking forward to this Saturday. I get to celebrate without being the center of attention while surrounded by my own “I have found my people” crowd. Let’s DO this!
*My mom was HIGHLY offended when I called her “caftans” muumuus. I was just trying to give her a complement =D haha whoopsie
All I was trying to say was, I now realize I’m GLAD I wasn’t a “love child.” Here’s proof that she WAS stylish; she just wasn’t a hippie –>
Yesterday was… wow!
After waking up to breakfast with my family (coffee, oatmeal, eggs & Oreo ice cream cake), I helped my girls get dressed for a wedding they went to with my husband while I got to attend the .Net Rocks! Visual Studio 2012 Launch Road Trip Dallas show (Supportive spouses rock).
The .Net Rocks! Visual Studio 2012 Launch Road Trip Dallas show
Carl Franklin gave a great talk on building apps on the Windows 8 platform, where he did cool demos of things like adding a video, implementing a video slider, displaying time elapsed (formatted using a ValueConverter) for the video, etc. Helpful resources he recommended include:
Interesting side note: His demo app has code examples in both c# and vb (but don’t try to open the solution unless you’re running Windows 8).
Richard Campbell then gave a fascinating talk on DevOps, where he gave a lot of great food for thought on how we, as developers, can (work with IT to) better monitor & analyze our applications, using runtime intelligence. I highly recommend watching this clip from their Columbus stop if you weren’t able to catch them in your city.
Miguel Castro, who flew in for the Dallas show from New Jersey, then gave a fun, clever top 10 list, made especially for Texas, before he did an episode of The Tablet Show. Miguel was a delight. He was positive, encouraging & a really nice guy (not to mention HILARIOUS). To get a feel for what a great speaker Miguel is, check out his 2011 TechEd talk on Programming with MVVM.
Watching the recording process for The Tablet Show was fascinating. The chemistry between & professionalism of Carl & Richard is a rare & special combination that’s inspiring to witness in person.
Image (tweeted) by Ryan Lowdermilk
Following the event, we all headed to the after party, where we got to continue dialogs triggered or started at the event earlier.
Although I had seen/briefly met Carl & Richard at events I’ve attended, I hadn’t had the opportunity to actually speak with them in depth before. Our community never ceases to amaze me with how down-to-earth & kind people can be. It’s mind-blowing that anyone that busy can be so friendly & accessible (in addition to blogging, coding, learning, tweeting, presenting, running their companies, maintaining their websites & attending conferences, they produce FIVE podcasts EVERY WEEK, including RunAs Radio, dnrTV, Hanselminutes & 2 .NET Rocks episodes). What great people. Talking to them was so comfortable and just fun.
Read more of Richard Campbell’s bio here (and I highly recommend watching that interview while you’re there – it’s less than 8 minutes).
Carl Franklin talks about his background in this interview, which is only 5 minutes & so interesting.
My husband, who arrived at the same time as the rest of us (the wedding he attended was over & he had taken our kids to his mom’s house to spend the night), felt right at home, discussing everything from SCOM (which he uses) with Richard to how wonderful Telerik is & how happy he’s been using Sitefinity for his TechnologySpa web site.
One of my favorite pictures was of Teresa & her daughter. I LOVE how sweet this picture is!
There was truly nowhere I would have rather been, and nothing I’d rather have done than spend the day & evening with fellow techies. As far as I was concerned, this was my perfect birthday.
And then, I got a big surprise…
I was left speechless when they not only brought out two big cakes (one chocolate, one white) in honor of my birthday, but had everyone SING to me!
I couldn’t believe they did that for me. How very nice and incredibly thoughtful!
…and then I got another surprise.
Anyone who knows me knows how excited I was when I saw this. I couldn’t believe it! This is the coolest laptop bag that has ever existed. I was blown away & SO excited.
…and then I got ANOTHER surprise!
They got me a 64(!) GB Microsoft Surface with a Surface Type Cover for my 40th birthday! Even after typing that sentence, it still seems impossible to believe.Thank you is not enough, and all other words fail me.
I am so overwhelmed with emotion & gratitude & joy that I’m unable to conjure up words to even begin to do the feelings justice.
Carl, Richard, Toi, Teresa, Robert, Shawn, Paul, Shane, Miguel, Michael, Harold, James, and everyone who was involved (especially in the planning), THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart, for making my 1st day in this new decade one that I will never forget.
Here’s to many, many more wonderful moments surrounded by inspiring, amazing, friends from the developer community.