Spreading my influence (a recent life update)
Hello, world! I figured I should write an update again since it’s been a long while. I’ve been up to a bunch of stuff as usual and wanted to do a little recap.
Every now and then, I feel a bit down. The tech industry is full of people who are doing more than you, at tenfold the quality. As my network grows, I feel more and more like I have so much to do. I often compare myself to other people and envy their success while completely ignoring my own.
This set of actions, often referred to as Impostor Syndrome, is something I have been working to stop. I am doing worthwhile work and trying my hardest to affect positive change in the world. If you’re feeling the way I am, here’s a tip: remember to not only think about the ways you need to improve, but also celebrate your achievements. You matter!
Onto the actual recap!
My most popular piece in 2014 was about lessons learned while organizing diversity-focused events. After two years of running communities, I shared my experience with the readers of Model View Culture.
In 2015, I wrote about diversity in games. First, I discussed blackness in games for Kotaku. I later wrote about my experience with designing a Black female character for my game, Prism Shell. Offworld commisioned an amazing piece of fan art for the piece that almost made me cry.
Isn’t it stunning?
I most recently wrote about code and creativity for FOWD. A piece about creating Black characters and supporting Black game developers will soon appear in A MAZE. I plan to continue occasionally contributing to publications over the next few years.
I wholeheartedly enjoy speaking about UX, web development, and game development. I’m passionate about these topics and would like to continue sharing my experiences through speaking engagements.
In July, I taught a Twine game development workshop with Nina Freeman at PAX Dev and spoke about cross-team collaboration methods at FlowCon SF. In August, I spoke at AlterConf with Stacey Mulcahey about creating communities where marginalized people (in this case, women) can to learn to program.
In early 2015, I keynoted a Global Game Jam site in Virginia, then spoke about Code Liberation at TEDxFoggyBottom. I’ll be speaking about UX, game development, and community-building again soon at PAX Prime, Web Unleashed Toronto, and FOWD NYC.
On stage at TEDxFoggyBottom. I was beyond nervous, but it went well!
Me giggling during the women in stem panel.
Most recently, I visited Girls Who Code NYC and talked about my experience with programming and gave them tips for getting into tech and games. The girls were all wonderful and ambitious. By the end of the visit, I felt renewed and hopeful about the future of tech. Appearances like these are why I care about speaking so much.
The future of tech is bright!
My 2015 speaking goal is to get paid for as many gigs as possible. Speaking involves a lot of planning, research, and presentation design. I spend hours designing my presentations and getting feedback from people. Pay your speakers, y’all. Quality matters!
I ran a lot of events over the past year. One of favorites was the Black Girls CODE x Code Liberation Game Jam. I created a video recap of the event because it went so well. Microsoft also covered the event on their NY-focused blog.
I think I’m ready to slow down on event organization because it drains my energy without providing enough replenishment. As much as I enjoy creating event experiences for people, I’m ready to invest energy in other ways. I believe there are other ways I can help people.
In addition to my daily work at SoundCloud, I’ve been building media projects for my graduate school classes at NYU School of Engineering. Two finished works are SoulForm and Social Sayings. More projects will come as I complete my final semester. My work has been covered by several publications including BuzzFeed, The Mary Sue, and Black Enterprise.
As you can tell, I’ve been a busy Catt. To avoid burnout, I’m working on slowing down and being more picky about where I direct my efforts. For example, I had to close down Tech Under Thirty. I felt sad doing so, but it wasn’t gaining the traction and support I’d hoped for.
Now I’m concentrating on my work at SoundCloud, finishing grad school, mentoring new teachers for Code Liberation, and making small games with Brooklyn Gamery. I’m also reviving my spirit. I’ve started going to the gym and taking long walks, which has helped to significantly reduce my stress.
If you’re ambitious like me, you may have juggled a large number of tasks. After too long, you get used to cycling between feelings of anxiousness and fatigue. I’ve been there and managed to improve. I don’t want to reach that point again.
Enjoy yourself and those you love.
Take time to appreciate where you are in life.
Life is not work. Enjoy your weekend.
Finding Meaning In Design When Nothing Is Fine
We’re all aware: working while under duress is terrible! Especially as a designer. People often talk about design as a superpower because you can illustrate the future—and it often is quite magical. But when your skillset doesn’t feel immediately relevant to your survival, the magic evaporates. In this very personal and relatable talk, I will share my experience with navigating hard times and experiencing a career block. Attendees will learn techniques for overcoming the malaise and building a guided, sustainable design career.
Want to talk?
Got feedback, looking to suggest a future writing topic, or want to invite me to speak at your organization? Send me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible!