Life Before Spring IO 2022: The JUG

I haven’t written about this, maybe I should have, but I am not good at self-promotion and I wasn’t sure how this was going to go, so in case I did I bad job, I wanted to keep the context … limited.

Remember how two years ago, at the beginning of the pandemic I decided to give it a shot and participate remotely at Spring IO 2020 as speaker? (Link here: a reminder.) In opinion that did not go well. Given the number of likes on youtube, I think I am right about that. I considered never doing it again, but like a new friend says, once you participate to a conference as a speaker, you can never go back. And so, this year without letting too many people know, I submitted a presentation for Spring IO 2022, especially since I actually have been using a little bit of Spring on production (oh well, more like acceptance it at the moment).

The company I work for is very supportive about my authoring and speaking activity, which is good because with my on-steroids imposter syndrome, I need as many people as possible to remind me that the reality is not always the way I see it. Regardless, my presentation was all over the place, initially. It sort of’ had a beginning and an end, but in the middle there seemed to be some parallel narratives. Also, it was very difficult to make it interesting, since I had to give the minimal details about the project focus, because the project is still in Alpha status, and we cannot risk its idea getting leaked onto the market and somebody else implementing it before we do.

The first feedback about it was brutal – I even considered pulling out. But I processed the feedback, made the first round of changes and the proposal was accepted. It was on.

The second round of feedback was brutal as well, but the feedback helped me improve it a lot, and some recommendations made by one particular colleague at Cloudsoft helped me improve my confidence as well.

The feedback on the third dry run was better, but it was the last one before the actual thing actually happening and so I was quite negative and stressed about it. However, I made some more improvements, talked to myself some more and hoped for the best.

While all this was happening, I was also dealing with the logistics of going to Barcelona. I were to meet with a friend in Barcelona that I haven’t seen for years. And this friend was working for a company in Netherlands, that had an office in Barcelona. And one of her colleagues in there was involved in organizing Barcelona JUG. And he needed a speaker for the Barcelona JUG meetup that took place on the evening of the 24th of May. She served me to him as a roasted piglet on a silver platter. I couldn’t do the Spring IO presentation, so I prepared another one about my technical authoring activities, my process and reasons that motivate me to do it.

I had already booked my plane for the 25th of May, and thus if I wanted to do this, I needed to re-book. Well, since my ticket was booked through a travel agency, it could not be rebooked, so I just found the cheapest ticket on the 24th of May and bought it.

Let me be clear: I haven’t spoken publicly in front of a group of strangers, in an official capacity as a Spring/Java expert in years. I was scared out of my mind, but this has never stopped me. I wanted to do this, so much so, that I bought a ticket to an earlier flight.

So, on the 24th of May, I woke up at 3:30 am, I drove to the airport, boarded a plane and landed in Barcelona. After aimlessly looking for a proper coffee shop to get some more work done, I gave up and checked into the hotel and got the work on the JUG presentation done and did another dry run.

Then I walked to the venue, which was one hour away from the hotel, admiring the mesmerizing Barcelona architecture while speaking to myself, trying to fix a bunch of key phrases for the JUG talk. There was another speaker before me, Joris Kuipers, a veteran of public speaking and Trifork Expert, and his plane was late. By the time my turn was to give my talk, it was about 7:30 pm and I was tired and feeling weak and vulnerable, so weak that my inhibitions were pretty low and I might have used enough swear words to deplete the reserve for the next bunch of weeks; which was a good thing for my Spring talk. Obviously.

Apparently, the Barcelona JUG talk was a hit, it was informative, and it was funny and people appreciated my honest thoughts about how it is to write technical books in a virtual word.

I am very glad I did this talk. Compared to Spring IO, where I knew I had to polish some things about me and check my words, I got to be an unapologetic, genuine, version of me on that stage, with my ticks and swear words and I got to tell a group of people that although writing technical books is exhausting, I am doing it because it helps others become the professionals I want to work with and because it helps me be a better and more creative developer. Also… they got to know the process of creating a technical book and the sacrifices required. They got a look behind the courtain.

No, the talk was not recorded.

After the day was done, my energy stores were depleted and I crashed into the hotel bed with a last terrifying thought: in two days’ time I was to do a talk at Spring IO 2022, and it would either make me or break me as a public speaker.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Stay strong Ukraine! Слава Україні!

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