Being Shy and Being Myself

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A little over a year ago Ajaxian published a piece on my CSS techniques. Fortuitously, this forced me to start talking to people about my ideas, to create an open source project, and to speak at conferences. I’m shy, so I might not have taken the leap on my own.

For the first time, people followed me on twitter that I hadn’t met before. My blog posts got actual, interesting comments — along with some trolls, of course. Immediately, I stopped posting anything non-techie. I shouldn’t bother people with the delight I felt at eating corn flakes for breakfast, right? The truth is, I was terrified. I’m a lurker. I rarely even comment on blogs. For about a month, I stopped tweeting. Then, slowly, I became less shy and more spontaneous. A year has passed, and I’ve learned a lot about not taking things personally, how to deal with trolls, and how to be myself and be on the internets.

A couple months ago, a friend, for whom I have a lot of professional respect, launched a redesign of her site. I was very inspired that she put modern home design on equal footing with her web work. I used to write about the colors I had chosen for my living room, but I let shyness get in the way.

Veerle inspired me, this is my website and I should be myself! I geek about all kinds of things and I want to share a wider range of that with the world. I’ll talk about geeky stuff, but also industrial modern furniture, carpentry, building a bicycle seat, ergonomics, and toe-cleavage ballet flats. Maybe I’ll even tell you how I painted a room in my house “accidental lavender.”

If you aren’t interested in all that, you can always browse in the “geek” category only.

7 thoughts on “Being Shy and Being Myself”

  1. “Immediately, I stopped posting anything non-techie. I shouldn’t bother people with the delight I felt at eating corn flakes for breakfast, right?”

    I think that’s probably a pretty common feeling actually. I know I went through it (still battling to some extent).

    In my opinion at least, it is often the blogs that mix a variety of content that become my favorite ones to read. When an author is willing to open up and share their experiences and thoughts, regardless of if it pertains directly to “geekie” topics, it gives a far more open, personal feel and demonstrates that the author has interests and passions outside of their work.

  2. Interesting, because I tried to do the opposite. I wanted to be Front End Famous, but at the time, I didn’t understand all that really meant.
    Then I got a job at a prominent internet company. (Y!es, you might know the place) :D
    That changed everything; I understood the real responsibility of being a prominent Front End Engie. I also saw the ups and downs. (Undeserved praise, Undeserved, and sometimes hurtful, criticism, as well as exchange of well thought ideas).
    I became far more comfortable just doing what I do and not caring if anyone is listening. Now I am fairly happy I never got thrust into the limelight, as you did.
    (Of course, I would have needed to create something incredibly useful as you did.)
    It’s really cool that you found yourself in all this…

  3. I saw a talk you gave at O’Reilly on YouTube recently. I loved your OOCSS project. It’s such the right way of doing things. But I also loved how real and down to earth you are. Even down to the domain name your chose. I say just be yourself. Post what comes naturally. :-)

  4. Hi Nicole,

    I recently had a similar thought. I’m actually a musician but all I seem to put on my blog are random CSS experiments. I suddenly thought am I giving off the wrong impression here, should I be only blogging about my music work or some synth patch I made? Then I thought what the hey! Sure it’s a bit geeky but that’s who I am, I love messing with CSS (although I’m no pro, more a hobbyist! Sites for friends etc) so why not!

    Going to check out the your OOCSS when I get some time, makes a lot more sense. :)

    All the best!

  5. It all depends on if you really actually want traffic. Are you blogging for the people? I hope not, because this is your space, and it should be you.
    I’ve been reading Veerle’s architecture posts, and I’ve seen some fascinating things. The inspirations and humanity behind what you do is often as important as the code itself.

  6. Although I’m really here for the techie stuff (your insights on CSS), It’s always nice to peek at another side of the person who comes up with those ideas. Surely we shouldn’t hide behind a single-minded profession-obsessed caricature of ourselves!

    I think non-geek posts are a wonderful way to round out your online presence. The internet can’t meet you personally, but why not share a few things that make you more than just a name?

    So, how’s the Ducati riding this summer?

  7. Thanks for talking about this. I agree, and feel it is important to be transparent about being human, in order to build real community in this low-bandwidth text world of blogs and tweets.

    An easy way to do that is to reveal that I eat my cornflakes with maple syrup. Or that I love shoes – waaaay too much. Or that I sometimes miss a train (!!!). I do not find that these things at all harm my status in my network… in fact, they build richer connections with people who also occasionally miss a train or spill their coffee in a taxi.

    I am sure that some people unfollow me when I start talking about non-work things. That’s ok. I am a whole person and want to work with whole people, who eat and shop and have fun and sad times. And who are unapologetically passionate about their work. That is the network I want to build and work in. My work comes directly from this network, I do not advertise or market. So far, so good!

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