What They Don’t Tell You

If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

I wear a lot of hats in the Open Source World. I help teams. I represent and direct others. I herd the cats of software. I allow my name to be known. People talk about how we’re doing a good job, working hard, working together trying to make things better. They talk to you about the wonderful feeling of success that comes with releasing a product. They tell you about the joy, the friendships, and the community.

Well. Here’s what they don’t tell you.

They don’t tell you about the bad days.

They don’t tell you about the week you will spend being blamed and slandered and lied about in blog posts and on Social Media because people know half of thing.

They don’t tell you about the fact that you can’t speak up and defend your actions because it’ll make things worse.

They don’t tell you about the subtle misogyny that makes you wonder if it’s there at all.

They don’t tell you about the gut churning nausea you’ll feel about turning on your email and watching wave upon wave of hate-mails come in.

They don’t tell you about the dick pics and come ons.

They don’t tell you that even when you can explain yourself to your friends, you’ll have to make sure they know not to speak up on your behalf because it won’t help.

They don’t tell you that you can make it worse by being outspoken.

They don’t tell you that crying will make people feel they’re right.

They don’t tell you that people won’t even consider that their words cut you to your very bone.

They don’t tell you that even if a great many people respect you, it doesn’t make you feel any better.

They don’t tell you that someone will say ‘it’s all in your head.’

They don’t tell you that you will have to wait it out.

They don’t tell you that you will have to suffer.

They don’t tell you that the phrase “Just joking!” doesn’t ease the wounds.

They don’t tell you that even with all the support in the world, there are days you will feel absolutely, 100%, alone in your community.

All those good and wonderful things? They’re true. And I wouldn’t change the past if I could. Contributing to open source has enriched my life in many ways. It’s taught me more about myself that I could have imagined. It’s taught me how much I can stand and take though. It’s taught me that sometimes, somedays I will stand with my name and my work being spoken ill of, with my actions being second guessed and criticized, and I will have no succor or recourse.

I will have to stand there and take it and wait and say nothing and do nothing except the best I can do.

What’s the point of this? There isn’t one. This post isn’t a cry for help or a request for my friends to come to my defense. It’s a reminder for all of us that these things happen, and there will be days we feel worthless. Where we feel beaten down and angry and that we want to cry or do something and we just can’t because we know in our hearts it will make things worse.

But maybe the point is this.

I feel that way too. Everyone does.

So you’re not alone at all.

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