How can I even start this without just first saying “Thank You”, thank you for such an amazing experience. Thank you to Jim, Jen, the whole Adorable team, volunteers, speakers, and attendees. Thank you for the conversations, the inspiration, the feels, the new friendships and connections. Thank you for Ruby Karaoke, an event that I certainly will never forget! Just in general a big heartfelt “Thank You!”
Being a recent bootcamp grad and a relatively green developer I’m quite new to the community and I was nervous about attending all alone. That anxiety and nervousness was quickly removed and within the first 10 minutes of being at the conference people were introducing themselves to me. It can be difficult for me to go up to complete strangers and try and start up a conversation so having people be so welcoming and make the introductions first really helped bring down my anxiety.
The conference presented itself as a place to make new connections and also finally meet people in real life that I had only be subjected to in the digital form. Before the first talk of the day I had met a fellow Firehose Project student, with our bootcamp being online this is something that doesn’t happen very often, and by lunch I had met another Firehose Project student. None of us planned meeting each other, we didn’t even know that each other were going to be there but serendipity brought us together for an amazing opportunity to get to know each other in real life.
The talks were informative, inspiring, and powerful. Talks of evolutionary genetics, why and how we can fix our communities, crossing the canyon from newbie to professional, diagnosing cancer with machine learning, using the most energy efficient supercomputers, automation, and the super powerful talk about transitioning from male to female. All the topics were wonderful, many got my mind running at full tilt about the amazing possibilities the future may hold for us, many got me really thinking about how difficult diversity is in the tech sector and how I can help make it a more welcoming place. Overall I came away a better and more excited person because I had the wonderful experience of hearing all of these wonderful folks share their passions and experiences with me.
The after parties, oh the after parties. You wouldn’t know it from an outsider’s perspective but I constantly feel awkward and uncomfortable in many social situations but this was different. I felt welcomed, I felt like I belonged and that doesn’t happen very often. From a young age I never felt like I belonged in the place I was born or fit in the with people of that community as a result there have been very few times in my life that I truly felt 100% accepted and welcomed but at Madison+ Ruby I was and for that I thank you, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. At the after party I could easily talk to anyone there and know that I would be welcomed and that we would have common ground to start a conversation. I talked about business, technology, education, and much more. I had intelligent rational conversations with people who were open to new ideas and perspectives (not something that I often get back home) and then on the flip side I laughed, I laughed my ass off. Then there was Ruby Karaoke, much WOW! I have to give a big thanks to James for the unrelenting nudging to participate, I never would’ve had he not and I would’ve totally regretted it. Turns out it was an awesome and liberating experience, I apologize for what I imagine was not a very elegant version of Born to be Wild. Ruby Karaoke was a visual representation of how accepting our community is and how much we all just want to support each other.
In the final day of the conference in the closing comments, I felt something that doesn’t really ever happen when you do something for the first time, sadness. It’s not often that doing something for the first will also be something you’re doing for the last time. It was my first time at Madison+ Ruby and will now subsequently be my last time and that was hard to come to terms with. I had such an amazing experience and felt so welcomed that in the closing comments I got choked up. Even now that I am recalling that experience and reliving it in my mind I’m getting choked up just thinking about it. I hope that it is not the last time we get to do something so amazing all together.
Madison+ Ruby met so much to me and when I think about all the amazing people, talks, and experience I can’t help but think about a Hunter S. Thompson quote (only modified slightly to change context):
“ Madison in the early twenty-tens was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run… but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world.”
In many ways that quote sums up my feelings for Madison+ Ruby, I have a sense that there was something extremely rare and special about what happened in Madison. That in our little corner of space, for a brief moment of time in the Universe, we came together and shared this amazing experience of unity, passion, excitement, and compassion.
I again want to give my deepest heartfelt thank you to everyone in the Madison+ Ruby community, this will be an experience that I will never forget and it has improved my life in an extremely positive manner. To everyone I met and to everyone I didn’t meet, I just want to let you know that I am extremely grateful to have been in your presence this weekend. If you ever need someone to help on a project, volunteer at an event (if I can physically make that happen, I will), grab a coffee, meet at a meetup, or just need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to ask. I know a lot of people say those things as a cheap platitude but I truly mean it. My life has been changed for the better from the compassion, empathy, and the sense of belonging. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart! Until next time, cheers.