What I Wish My Younger Self Could See

I can’t say there is one moment when I decided that I would go into technology. Growing up, I was one of the geekiest kids that I knew. When other girls were talking about popular bands in high school, I was listening to ripped tapes of video game music. When other girls were going on dates, I was planning elaborate roleplaying game scenarios for on-line chat rooms.

But I wasn’t always the perfect geek. I’d forget my glasses at home so that I wouldn’t look so incredibly nerdy in class. I’d sometimes fall asleep in Geometry class. And it was a boyfriend that first got me into comic books.

I made a decision to study computer animation in college, because of my love of cartoons and video games. It was tough going sometimes. It took long hours to create and render out animations. And when I decided to get into programming too, there were some people who discouraged me. They said I needed to make up my mind, or that I would never have the skills. I walked the road between art and computer science, dipping my toes in both worlds a lot. And while I was in college, I discovered a real passion for game design in specific: crunching the numbers that make game systems work. In spite of having to work hard, the love of the game was a drive that pushed me forward. Games were a hobby, but soon I was creating my own games and teaching game design to others.

I think there are still lots of times when I worry that I’m not being a “woman in tech” correctly. Maybe I learned the wrong skills, or I like the wrong hardware, or I just need to take a break some days. I would say that these feelings are normal though, and I have a fantastic support network in and out of Microsoft. Sometimes I feel so surprised that the road that I took has brought me to this job and this role, where my job is to use technology to inspire others. But to most of the people I grew up with, I think they would have found this path inevitable. If I could go back in time and talk to my younger self, I’d tell her: you can do it! And I’d show her what an amazing world is waiting out here for geeks like her.

The fact is, you don’t have to be a total geek to be into tech. Technology is a broad field with a lot of different applications. When I was a girl, I used to disdain pursuits like sports and makeup. But it turns out that sports can be pretty fascinating for a video game designer, and learning about makeup has applications from theater and cosplay all the way to chemistry. The world of technology is so big that you can’t limit yourself to thinking that it’s only for geeks. I envision a world where everyone is a geek about something, and that world is great.

What are you a geek about? How can technology get you there?

If you want to ask me, my door is always open. Tweet at me at @second_truth!

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