My name is Diana, and this is my story.
Untold until now, I hope it can give hope to those who find the path to stability in the tech ecosystem something impossible. I know for sure it isn't!
I was born and raised in Venezuela. Although I had the privilege of a multicultural background that allowed me to learn and speak English and a few other languages, I come from a country that (once was a paradise on earth but) is now ravaged by poverty and an unprecedented political and humanitarian crisis that has forced millions of people to flee their homes looking for a better future. Myself included.
I left in 2013 when it was still "safe" to do so. Uncertain about my future, I roamed around many countries in South America, where I worked as a freelance web developer. I'm not a hero in this story. I'm not Wonderwoman. I'm not where I am right now because I am a genius. I am here because of the fantastic work and positive impact of many people from many of the countries where I lived, who were part of the worldwide developer ecosystem: meetups, study groups, hackathons, mentors.
Every one of them, the people who taught me and reinforced the knowledge I have today. Those who believed in my potential, who encouraged me to learn, to try, to fail and try again: The community. We never know how much of a positive impact we can have on others, how much a kind word, advice, mentorship can save lives. It certainly saved mine.
After years of moving around and a lot of instability, I met Matias Blayer in Buenos Aires, Argentina. "Mati" was my mentor. I had a hiatus in web development in general because of personal issues that led me to PTSD and severe depression. It was a dark time in my life, and Mati doesn't even imagine how much his support and encouragement helped me get to where I am right now.
In the space of a year, I went from idling away, wanting to end my life every day, to going back to where I came from: communities. I started to get engaged in talks, mentorship, presentations, and suddenly my presence was requested and well-received. People believed in me again, and I made a secret vow to be the voice of those who, like me, felt like there's no first or second chance.
I became a community organiser, led many groups and worldwide organisations. Became a Google Developer Expert, Auth0 Ambassador, Microsoft MVP and my audience grew to a worldwide one. I am still out there, shoulder to shoulder with the community. I consider these badges as awards that allow me to reach remote corners I wouldn't have dreamed of, to tell everybody that it isn't impossible.
Success isn't tied to fame or status. It isn't tied to several twitter followers; it isn't tied to being well known. I stay away from those who "love the uppermost seats [everywhere], and greetings in the markets"... a quote repeated by my grandma often. The real reward of community work is not public recognition but the positive and long-lasting impact on people's lives.
As for me, I still fight impostor syndrome, but I am reminded that like in a big puzzle, there are no two equal pieces and that every one of them completes the big picture. All of us are important, sufficient and needed. Our experiences, our perceived shortcomings and our unique perspectives and everything we bring to the table make our communities a diverse source of knowledge. We all complete the puzzle, the big puzzle of our communities.
I would like to thank Mati, and many other amazing people who were there for me, who inspired me and helped me move forward, like:
Jen Looper, Stacy Devino, Beth Laing, Angel Banks, Valarie Regas, Kim Crayton, Aaron Frost, Jorge Cano, my best friend Jalena Hay, my roomies and bff's Diana Alvarez, Vanessa Alvarez, Elizabeth Portilla, Flor Baños, my awesome partners in a new adventure Karo Ladino and Alejandra Giraldo, my Python & IoT heroines Nina Zakharenko & Stargirl🌠
...and many others who've had a huge and positive impact in my life. To all of you, and those I didn't mention: thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
Let's make our ecosystem a positive experience for everyone. We never know how many lives we might be saving the same way Mati saved mine. Reach out, help others, learn… create, share!