So, for anyone keeping track of my life, this happened:
And yes, I was sitting in the audience. And he was pointing at me. And I did get nervous.
And he is a pretty cool guy. Kind of like a dad. You can definitely tell that he has daughters and is active and instrumental in his kids’ life. All that for what would have amounted to about less than 5 minutes of conversation time, I could tell.
Back to reality? I mean, this was a part of my reality, but what happen post?
I’ve been told to capture the moment, so I did: in the form of speaking engagements.
I don’t consider myself the greatest speaker. I get nervous, lose train of thought, and maybe go off on a tangent and forget where the hell I was, but I do definitely see myself being understood in the eyes of the audience. Maybe because I see inside of them. Seanna says I’m really good at that.
I got the opportunity to speak at an old facility that I used to work at. The guest list was unknown to me, but I figured if it was in the IT world, it was more than worth the time I could take to drag along a buddy to speak to the disparities of minorities in the IT field and whatnot.
I got to the location without a problem. I had worked there, so I knew all the good places to park, especially if I had to sign in (I didn’t want to walk clear across the lots to do so). I showed up early enough to make an entrance, but late enough to see that most of the people had already gathered there.
At around 5 til, I saw him: my old boss. I told myself that I knew he was coming simply because I could see so on my LinkedIn profile. It was amazing. I didn’t know exactly what to expect, so I acted casual like I always do in scenarios where I have to interact with people that I hadn’t seen in a long time and I’m not even quite sure if they know who I am (as a person).
I sat down and concentrated on my partner. We hadn’t seen each other all day and it was the first time that we had to get a gathering of where our day was. We chatted and the show started. I knew what to expect from the PowerPoint slide presentation, so I was just waiting my turn.
I got up, he was in my eye shot. I spoke about the tragedies of being in the information technology field, being a woman, being black, and being gay (although I didn’t touch on the latter directly because it was surely implied). I caught a glance of his eyes and he turned away. I don’t know if I had said anything offensive, as the nodding heads did not reflect so, but I was quite sure that I was definitely not who he thought I was.
I talked about my skills, how I had been underrepresented in both my resume and my title along with my job duties. How I helped out mine and other departments by breaching the “silo gap” that so often plagues the IT world. And how I did get to finally meet the CTO of the US (who is awesome, btw). Female nerds FTW!
As I got down from the stage, feeling my heart race after having a debate on “what I should do with my life” with a CTO (did I mention this audience was full of St. Louis’ CIOs and CTOs? Yeah.), I decided to sit and carefully listen to my colleague speak about the ins and outs of the program that so graciously found me and placed me and said how underemployed I was, various times. He did a great job. I think he really hit home, which is all we wanted for the program to do to people “out there” who would seek diverse people from diverse backgrounds.
The point of all this is to display that regardless of the fame (perceived), grace (also perceived), and dignity that I portray, I still get nervous, question myself, and question whether I understand others, clearly. I want all of the world to see me as I truly am: someone who cares, cares deeply, and wants nothing but the best for everyone involved by choosing the lesser of two evils, at times.
The speaking engagement was a success. It opened people’s eyes, and that’s all I wanted to do. Inevitably, I feel like it opened more than that.