Have I Changed?

I went to AdaCamp and this is not the post I intended to write.

I had a whole lot of awesome things I wanted to say, and my world collapsed a bit on the Monday morning immediately after AdaCamp. It’s oddly all related. Part of why I’m a feminist (which I am) is because I think that there really isn’t a difference between men and women’s ability intellectually. Physiologically, yes, but in so far as the brain goes, we’re just as smart and just as stupid. This is not my original post.

negativity-change1In the grand scheme of things, I’m incredibly lucky to have been raised with strong female role models. If you’ve spend any length of time talking to me, I’m sure to have mentioned Taffy, my grandmother, who ran her own business in 1954, survived a mastectomy, a divorce, raised two kids, and in many ways, made me who I am. While she and I never really had ‘girl’ friends (we got along with men better), as I grew older, I started to associate with women like my wife, and friends like Mrs. Hubbit and all my crazy WordPress people, whom if I even attempted to list, I’d leave someone really important off, so I decided you know who you are, so yes I mean you.

At Jen’s suggestion, I applied to AdaCamp. Like many people, I suffer a little from Impostor Syndrome, where by I don’t think I’m worth these things because I haven’t gone to enough events, or I’m not good enough, or some day someone will wake up and go “Mika doesn’t actually know anything!” At the same time, I’m incredibly not humble. I know damn well I’m smart, gifted, talented, hard-working, and passionate. People say “That was brilliant! You’re amazing!” and I invariably reply. “I know. You’re welcome.”

Why I had issues going to WordCamps and AdaCamp have far less to do with Impostor Syndrome and are far more complex. Like many people, I struggle with my emotions. Depression, fears, and all that stuff. You’re not alone, folks, I feel that way too. Interestingly, I found once I had established a base of people I knew and trusted with the saga that is my brain, it became a lot easier. But really, once I had WOMEN whom I trusted, it was practically comfortable.

See? I was getting back around to women. Having a suport structure of women let me short hand a lot of what was in my head. Like almost every single woman in the world, I’ve been slapped by sexism, misogyny, and at times, harassment. At the same time, when someone asked if I was interested in a threesome, I was not offended, nor did I feel harassed. It made sense in the logical flow of our conversation, it was asked in a polite way, and when declined, there were neither hard feelings nor issues. I try really hard to keep a level head about all this.

At the same time, I grew up around men. I grew up with men who grew up with women. I grew up with men who thought that, yes, there are differences between men and women, but are they genetic or cultural? We don’t know. And that’s okay that we don’t know. Knowing we don’t know makes us more aware of what may be our own hangups. The strong people in my life left me assuming we were all strong. I look at my male role models and I know I’m incredibly lucky. I look at my female role models and thing the same thing. Life gave me amazing, wonderful chances, and the wherewithal to take advantage of them.

While I was at AdaCamp, I had a lot of great talks with people, mostly out of sessions, about the problems we all face. I figured out I wasn’t alone in some problems. I did my best to listen more than I talked. And still… I walked away from AdaCamp with a level of thoughtful annoyance. Not at women, though. I’m happy I went, I’m happy I bonded with people and particularly women. I’m not happy that in some places I thought “Okay … but are we helping this?”

I want to say everything we did will make us better people, more aware of the things we should be aware of, and forward thinking to help craft a better world … But then sometimes I read things like Geneveive’s amazing Dealing With It post and I wonder if I’m just being louder about all of these things now than I was before. Does it help? Am I making it better or worse? And I just don’t know. And that frustrates me.

It doesn’t help that right after AdaCamp, my grandmother died. Taffy was a driving force for me. I wouldn;t have gone to AdaCamp without her, I wouldn’t be as aware about how shitty the world can be to women, and how much you can change it if you try without her. And it still hurts. A lot. I still cry randomly, thinking about her, so it makes writing this insanely hard. Less than 30 days later, the other grandmother died. That did not help at all.

But maybe that’s the point of all this. Life is insanely hard. It’s messy, it’s filthy, it’s filled with moments in our past that we regret, or not, but shape us and make us who we are. I wouldn’t change anything in my past, it might make me less than who I am now, and it might take my wife away from me, and it might take me away from the wonderful people I’ve know. The whole It’s A Wonderful Life bullshit aside, I really, really, really, like me. So that means I get to live with all my choices, good and bad, forever.

My ghosts sit with me a lot, which is neither here not there.

What all this has told me is I still don’t know the answers. Maybe I never will. And I can’t tell if I’m helping or hurting the world. I’m trying to help. I’m trying to make things a better place for me, but for everyone. I’m trying not to be selfish, I’m trying to help people, I’m trying… God, I’m trying. I can look at myself and see how I’ve grown and changed, and how the world has always been this screwed up and yet also grown at changed. But right now, I don’t feel like I’ve changed enough.

As I said on Twitter a couple nights ago “I am FULL of angst. I feel like a black and white movie with subtitles and an accordion.”

ETA: This is why we can’t have nice things, though:

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