How To Create Your Own Coding “Bootcamp”

Coding bootcamps and courses are extraordinary investments of one’s time and money; understandably, not everybody can attend one. For this reason, some people choose to learn how to code from home at their own pace. I think that’s an incredibly wise move. Even though I completed the first part of DevBootcamp’s full-stack program (I had to leave halfway due to health issues) and then subsequently finished Thinkful’s Front-End Development course, I 100% believe you can learn this stuff by yourself without the hefty price tag.

While it’s hard to completely replicate the type of environment a bootcamp or a course offers, there are many ways to mimic it by yourself. Looking back, I realized these were some of the most useful parts of the bootcamp experience for me: one-on-one mentorship/tutoring, community, and a structured curriculum. I wish I’d known then there are ways to have all that without the financial baggage! Thankfully, I do now and am using the following resources to learn even more by myself for now. Here are a few ways to experience all three factors yourself either completely for free, or at a relatively very low cost:

A) Mentorship:

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 9.15.47 PM

I think arguably the reason many attend courses or bootcamps is for the one-on-one assistance. As a beginner, it can be incredibly overwhelming when you’ve been stuck on a tutorial for hours. It’s important to try to figure it out by yourself, but there comes a time when it just becomes counterproductive. Or let’s say you do “fix” it, but then later on your entire code breaks — and you realize it’s because you didn’t really fix the problem properly in the first place! I get it, I’ve been there — heck, I’m still there! Mentors/teachers can “rescue” you when you’re stuck and help you understand the bigger picture you’re not grasping, teaching you best practices along the way. They can also be great for code reviews, spotting troublesome areas before they become bad habits.

So how do you get one-on-one “tutoring” when you’re trying to learn at home by yourself? Here are a few websites that actually connect you directly to teachers/developers who, for a fee, can help when you need them. Use all of them:

1. CodeMentor: Fees range all over the place, from $10/15 minutes to $30/15 minutes, many offering immediate help through an online session via the likes of Google Hangouts. That’s chump change when compared to a $10,000+ bootcamp tuition. They also offer offline assistance for small projects. That could be useful for a code review, for example. Also, just a side note: check out their blog posts. They’re pretty engaging reads and oftentimes very useful.

2. Wyzant: Fees here also vary from $20/hour to $70/hour. You can schedule a one-on-one online session or meet in-person, but I don’t think you’ll get immediate help so-to-speak. This is still a really great option for tutoring and code reviews.

3. Craigslist: At one point, I posted an ad for a tutor here. I didn’t end up needing one at the time, but I got some incredible responses from experienced developers (one was a teacher at HackReactor) for very reasonable rates! You can negotiate the price and how often you meet with them personally. Definitely worth a shot.

B) Structured Curriculum:

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 1.29.26 PM.png

There a ton of online resources out there you can use to guide and structure your learning. It would probably take me a couple of days to list out each one, so here are just a few:

  1. FreeCodeCamp: They offer a curriculum like Thinkful’s with similar projects for free. At the end, you contribute towards a non-profit, giving you real-world experience while giving back. I’ve often used it and will continue to in the future.
  2. Codeacademy: This is a very popular free resource I have found helpful and used to complement my learning while at Thinkful and DevBootcamp.
  3. Treehouse: I haven’t actually used this one yet, and you do pay a fee, but I have heard some incredible things. I definitely plan on using it very soon.
  4. Sites like Udemy offer some courses. Again, I haven’t tried these (well, not to learn web development) but I’ve looked through a few and they seem pretty solid. I have also heard good things about some of them, although not all. Make sure you do some online research on the teacher or specific course before you take one.

C) Network/Community:

Screen Shot 2017-08-24 at 1.22.58 PM.png

Something I loved about DevBootcamp was the emphasis on pairing with others while working on challenges. But that’s kind of hard to do when, you know, it’s just you and a screen. It can also be isolating learning by yourself and hard to network. Although I am still doing some research on this one, I have found a few ways around this so far:

1. Social Media Groups: Free Code Camp actually has quite a few Facebook pages for various cities worldwide. They can be pretty big too. Members post about events, ask/answer questions, and share hilarious cat memes. I would definitely join one, even if you don’t use Free Code Camp much.

I’ve also noticed some inexpensive programs offered through Udemy/Treehouse have their own social media groups or Slack channels. Definitely take advantage of those, or maybe even make one yourself. Thinkful didn’t have one so I created two private Facebook groups for students and alumni. It took a like a couple of minutes and was super easy.

2. MeetUps: Many cities offer events where you can meet and work with other developers. Great way to connect with people in-person.

3. Obviously, I have to include Stack Overflow, the site for developers. Great place to ask questions and learn while answering them.

Like I said, you can’t 100 percent replicate the bootcamp environment; the career assistance (Thinkful’s Full-Stack offers 100% tuition if you don’t get a job!), for one thing, is hard to mimic as is the immersive, demanding environment. But if you can’t attend one, you’re not totally missing out and can definitely create your own “bootcamp” of sorts that is very similar.

Good luck with the coding!

(By the way, even if you’ve already attended a bootcamp/course, definitely check out a few of the above links! I am using them all to learn even more. I’ll keep adding to this list over the next few days as I’m also using this post for my own reference.)

Advertisements

Setting Up My WordPress.org Website

screen-shot-2017-08-25-at-7-21-33-pm-e1503714213941.png
Photo Credit: ThemeForest

I’ve just set-up the WordPress.org website for my online magazine and I’m ecstatic. While of course there’s no content uploaded yet, it’s one thing to dream about something and quite another to actually see it start to come to fruition! At the moment, I prefer to keep details of the project quiet, but I will certainly divulge more later.

For now, though, I wanted to discuss the technical aspects of actually setting up the site. There are a couple of things I noticed that, for a beginner, might be confusing at first. That worried me a bit. I believe the hardest part in anything is simply starting. Setting up your website, it’s easy to give up at the first hurdle and experience overwhelming existential angst (“why isn’t my theme uploading on WordPress.com!? What am I doing with my life!? Who am I!? Why am I!? Where’s the chocolate!? ARGH!”).

iStock-505671312-750x716
Photo Credit: IStock/VasjaKoman via The Memo

After you’ve finally worked up the nerve to start your own project, whatever it may be, that would certainly be a shame.

That’s why I wanted to write this post. I really think after you have something set up that you can just see, everything else becomes so much easier. So here are a couple of notes I made on the very first few steps that I believe could turn into obstacles along the way:

1. WordPress.com vs WordPress.org

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 7.11.47 PM

These are two different websites founded by the same guy, but just with different names. Yes, I agree, they could have probably alleviated a lot of headaches by differentiating the two more clearly, but what are you going to do? It’s important for you to understand this before you purchase any themes or even a host. This knowledge will help you determine: 1) where to buy your theme and 2) if you even need a host.

Right now, I am writing on the free WordPress.com site that WordPress hosts because I am cheap like that. On WordPress.org, however, you’re self-hosted which gives you a lot more control over your website. For example, you can install Google Analytics, which is one of the many reasons businesses use it.

Now, if you’re just blogging for friends and family, it might be easier to use WordPress.com. You’ll get everything you need without the price tag, unless you purchase one of WordPress.com’s themes or a domain — even that, it might work out cheaper. (What does it mean to buy a domain and why would I want to do that? Good question! Buying a domain basically means getting rid of the “wordpress” in your URL. So instead of sheenavasani.wordpress.com, this blog would be sheenavasani.com if Sheena wasn't so stingy.)

2. Research And Find A Host First, Then Install WordPress.Org

If you choose to use WordPress.org, you cannot use it unless you buy a plan through a host like Bluehost or GoDaddy, and then install the WordPress.org software. On Bluehost, this is as easy as literally clicking “Install WordPress”, although it can be a little more tricky with other hosts. You may need to download directly from the WordPress.org website and follow their instructions.

There are a ton of posts out there comparing hosts. (Whoop, I rhymed!) Here are just a few:

  1. PC Magazine
  2. Who Is Hosting This?
  3. Website Setup

3. Choosing A Theme:

On both WordPress websites, you can choose free or premium themes. Here’s the thing though: if you’ve bought a theme from a third-party, you cannot install it on your WordPress.com website. You will only be allowed to upload that theme after you’ve downloaded the WordPress.org software.

What this means is that, after you buy a theme, all you need to do is click on “Themes” (I know, I know, if I had a penny every time I wrote the word “theme”…) in your WordPress.org administrative website. At the very top, you will read something like “Upload” which is where you will  upload your theme’s files. Make sure you install the right ones! On ThemeForest, a very reputable third-party, that means to upload “Installable WordPress file only”.

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 7.04.49 PM

Like with hosts, there are a lot of great pieces out there about themes. I bought the “Voice Theme” from ThemeForest, which I love. I learned about it while reading an article over at ColorLib.com.

So there you go! I’m sure there are a lot more things I could write, and if I think of them, I’ll be sure to update this post. In the meantime, good luck with your endeavors!

Javascript And Ruby

Screen Shot 2017-08-25 at 4.22.05 PM

Ruby On Rails was the first programming language I was exposed to, and looking back, I am glad it was. I think it helped that it heavily uses English in a way that a newbie can understand, so it made learning to code less intimidating. However, it also means when it was time to learn my second language, Javascript, I recall staring dumbfounded at the screen thinking one thing only: “WHAT THE F*** KIND OF AN ALIEN LANGUAGE IS THIS!?!?!”

Thankfully, my relationship with Javascript improved when I tinkered about with my first Javascript challenge: reversing a string. Before working on the program, I sat down and compared Ruby syntax with Javascript to make a note of the similarities and differences. That was a life-saver! Here is the first batch of just some observations I made back then that really helped me break Javascript into something I could more easily grasp:

1. Variables: 

Javascript’s variables are just slightly longer than Ruby. In addition to the variable and the value, you also have to include”var” and a semi-colon (in fact, make sure you end every line in your program with a semi-colon) like so:

Ruby: 

best_pet = "cats"

Javascript:

var best_pet = "cats";

2. Debugging/Printing Variables and Interpolation:

Ruby: In Ruby, it’s all about good old”puts”. Also, to insert the variable in a string, we use interpolation:

puts "my cat is the #{best_pet}"

Javascript: In Javascript, we use console.log. After you declare a variable in Javascript, do not refer to that same variable with a var. Just refer to the name. Also, just an fyi: please be very careful not to include the variable in the preceding string! It’s a very easy typo to make, and one that has caused me tremendous existential angst in later programs:

console.log("my cat is the" + best_pet);

3. If/Else Statements:

Ruby: We’ve got the usual if/else/elsif conditional flow:

learning_to_code = true
human_being = true

if learning_to_code && human_being
   puts "You are awesome!"
elsif learning_to_code && !human_being 
   puts "Wha.....!!?"
end 

Javascript: Similar, but with an “else if” and some of the other syntactic differences pointed out already:

var learning_to_code = true;
var human_being = true;

if (learning_to_code && human_being) {console.log("You are awesome!");
}
else if (learning_to_code && !human_being) {console.log("Wha....!!?");
}

4. Functions/Methods:

Ruby: Javascript functions are Ruby’s methods:

def cat(name) 
 puts "Hello" + name.to_s
end

Javascript: And, of course, Ruby’s methods are Javascript’s functions:

function cat(name) {
return " Hello " + name
}

5. For Loops: 

I think loops look much less complicated in Ruby than in Javascript. Here’s what I mean:

Ruby:

"Meow".chars.each do |letter|
   puts letter
 end

Javascript:

var string = "Meow!";
for (var i = 0; i < string.length; i++) { 
   console.log(string[i]);
}

Gettin’ Creative In Japan

1) Kintsugi Class:

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 4.47.02 PM

I took a Kintsugi class in Tokyo. Kintsugi is a traditional art form where one repairs broken pottery with gold.I fell head over heels with the practice and its philosophy after artist @emilymcdowell_posted about it. (Her meme is in the middle there.) I just adored the idea that brokenness can create beauty. I knew I had to give it a try, so I did 🙂 Check out the pottery in the borders there to see my results!

2) Lake Kawaguchiko:

We were about to embark on a boat across the river to see Mount Fuji in the middle of a snow storm, providing some incredible photo opportunities! I was pretty proud of my edits on these two specific pictures which I made while in line to board the boat:

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 4.46.15 PMScreen Shot 2017-08-29 at 4.45.52 PM

3) Kyoto:

I didn’t really need to edit this very much, but I was proud of the angle:

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 4.46.28 PM

4) Cherry Blossoms:

And of course, my beloved cherry blossoms — the reason I came during March in the first place! Special thanks to my sister for two of these photos.

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 4.58.53 PM

To see more of my Japan photos, check out my public Facebook album:

1) Tokyo: Kintsugi Class (Japanese art), Senso-ji Temple, Imperial Palace, Shinjuki, Mohri Gardens etc…2) Mt. Fuji…

Posted by Sheena Vasani on Sunday, April 2, 2017

I’ll be sure to write more posts about my incredible experiences there one day. For now, I just want to enjoy and be in the moment.

Learning to Love

p

​I’ve had the biggest fear of dogs and cats since I was young. I realised recently it’s because in their presence, I have no control. Don’t get me wrong – I wanted to love them. They’re so cuddly, loving and pure. I so yearned to pick them up and just hug.

But because we don’t speak the same language, don’t have the same brains, they could hurt me. They were seductive, wild and dangerous things. A dog could sense and misunderstand my fear for intentions to attack, and accidentally scratch or bite out of his fear. The cat, unable to say, “I want to play and not be held”, could scratch in her squirmy attempt to jump out of my arms and onto the couch.

And so for most of my life, I’ve missed out on the unique love and affection only a mindless animal, free of human inhibitions, can give. Even when I started getting used to kittens and puppies, I’d approach with extreme caution – and in my guarded manner, barely receive anything in return.

Until the day came, of course, when I couldn’t resist anymore the charms of the sweet kitten I live with – watching her follow me, chase her tail, and then accidentally bang into doors was simply too much for me. I had to hold this silly, adorable little angel. So for the first time, I picked a kitten up with the sole intention of cuddling and kissing her, loving fully, rather than half-way loving, half-way protecting myself.

In those brief seconds, my entire heart melted. I felt a deep love, but I also felt for the first time in my life from an animal, deeply, unconditionally loved from this tiny creature. I could feel how tiny she is, her rapid heartbeat underneath her soft white fluff, and realised she was just as vulnerable as I was. But she will still letting me hold her, despite the fact I was huge, just woke up, and looked and felt like a mess. Even if she scratched or bit, it wasn’t meant as an attack, but was simply her own form of self-protection from a larger creature she doesn’t understand.

It reminded me of the boasting ways of the flower from “The Little Prince”, when the Prince realises she simply boasts and acts cold as a means of protection – for she is so tiny and secretly aware of her own smallness in the vast flower world, so insecure, so afraid he too will realise how small she is one day and his love will go. That she wasn’t something to be annoyed by, angry at or, or afraid, but a beautiful little being to feel compassion for, just trying her best.

Did she end up scratching me? Yes, she did. She no longer wished to be held and wanted to be set free to further explore the big world that is the living room, so in her small paw’s attempts to climb out of my arms, accidentally scratched me along the way. But instead of freaking out and vowing to never hold her again, or if I do, going back to wearing armor, I simply let her go. I had some scratches, but they were tiny, and nothing in comparison to the deep intimacy I just experienced surrendering to this tiny creature.

She still scratches me sometimes. Every now and then the rare dog will growl at me as I walk past. But I don’t run across the street as I used to, or at least most of the time I don’t. Kitten’s taught me that that’s life. You can’t predict who’s going to hurt you, and neither can you always control that. Scratches sometimes comes with love, but most of the time, those scratches and bites are a form of self-protection as a result of miscommunication and differences.

Does that mean you run away or shut off a part of yourself from the experience? No, because then you lose much more than you gain.

I got scratched, but I also got a glimpse of the best part of my own human nature and life: what it’s like to be yourself, with all your fears, in your ugly pajamas with no make up, procrastinating and messing it all up, and still be hugged, seen. The sweetness of a little creature looking up at you with big eyes, terrified of you, knowing you could kill her, not understanding your language, your brain, your ways, but still trusting you enough to let you cuddle her. Her love, giving me hope in an otherwise cruel world.

 So I surrender now, and let my kitty sometimes scratch and be mad at me. (She gives cold shoulders, I close the door because I’m busy/stressed and she wants kissies etc…) But then we work it out (she snuggles into my lap, I walk downstairs and give her extra attention) , because the love means more – and is worth more – than any of those fears.

In a word or two, the kitten’s taught me how to love.

kittysheena
Originally wrote in 2014

I am a bigot.

A professor once told me the first, and the most important, step in eradicating racism, sexism, gender role oppression etc…is to first acknowledge it in yourself and constantly work on it. Whether it’s you acting or thinking in a discriminatory manner towards others, or yourself, we all have prejudices somewhere within us. How can we not? Our histories and lives are filled with all types of prejudice; even saints or respected figures had them ie Gandhi, Mother Teresa, MLK, Nelson Mandela etc…Mandela himself owned up to that.

So I’m always uncomfortable around self-righteous types who point the finger a lot but never look at themselves. When people judge too much, I wonder what they are repressing and thus projecting. I don’t trust them. I think most don’t, hence we roll our eyes at “do-gooders” sometimes. Many don’t feel they’re coming from an authentic place because they are not – they are annoyingly, hypocritically “holier than thou” acting out roles rather than being themselves, and coming from an honest, inspired, heart-filled place. The ones who are legit, however, like Mandela – we feel inspired by.

I get it because I was once like that myself – not just with societal issues but personally – until I realized I was so motivated by fear and sometimes societal definitions of “good”, “acceptable” “perfect”, I wasn’t really growing or self-actualizing as a person. I felt so trapped. And like a disgusting hypocrite, I was afraid others would find out the darker side of me, the side that believed more in certain prejudices or was weaker than I would outwardly convey.

Honestly, because I was like that, I thought everybody was too – politically correct, perfect beings on the outside, but not so much on the inside. I felt pretty bitter, guilty, and inferior – a huge fraud. But to admit this would make me look bad, so I tried to pretend these things weren’t there. I was so ashamed, but I had no way to communicate or deal with it, so I projected it outwards and got even angrier and judgmental of others. And I most likely alienated and turned off more people.

Now I’m more self-aware and comfortable in my own skin, I’m not like that anymore, or at least am not most of the time. And I’ve noticed now in my own life – and others experiences – that people tend to listen to and respect those who have the courage to own up to their intolerance than those who are always angry and fail to look in a mirror. Judgment, labels, self-righteousness, the words “You are so this and this”, “People, or this group, are sheep, lazy, complacent, dumb, ignorant, self-absorbed” doesn’t really do a whole lot when trying to resolve issues. It just creates shame and guilt, and as anybody with an understanding of psychology knows, those are the exact emotions people do anything to avoid – and thus will avoid anything that triggers it off, whether through avoidance or anger.

A lot of people are generally loving and caring, willing to listen, learn, grow, and change when you communicate to them from a down to earth, humble, understanding, problem-solving way/approach. Or at least that is my experience and observations. It’s just all about honest communication and self-awareness.

Gandhi and Idealization

I just read an article arguing Gandhi likely sexually abused young girls. It re-enforced for me how dangerous it is to idealize. We end up ignoring anything that might tarnish our fantasy, reject critical thinking, and unintentionally create the space for abuse of power to occur. This is as true for political and religious figures as it is for celebrities.

I still find Gandhi’s non-violent fight for India’s independence admirable – people, like life, are not black and white, good or bad – but his questionable past exploiting young girls must be acknowledged. Many Indians consider Gandhi to be the nation’s father, so it sets a dangerous precedent to ignore these wrongdoings. If India wishes to make progress in ending violence against women, it must start holding all of its powerful male politicians, gurus, and other leaders accountable. (Fyi, I am a Gujarati Indian – like Gandhi – from a Hindu background, although I now identify as an agnostic theist.)

And I’d add, this applies to every revered historical figure and country. We can’t just ignore unpleasant facts when it deviates from the popular narrative; we’re no longer re-counting history but reciting a fairy tale when we do. We must investigate these figures and countries critically, taking in their positive but also negative contributions. Jefferson, the great aristocratic American Founding Father, owned slaves – in fact, all of the Founding Fathers did. Mother Theresa was homophobic. Abraham Lincoln was a racist; closer inspection reveals the civil war was fought to preserve the Union, not for ideological reasons – just like most wars. (The Southern economy was strong due to slavery; Lincoln sought to weaken it to insure the rebellious South, angry over Northern taxes, would not leave the Union.)

The purpose of mentioning these people isn’t to prove they’re bad; it’s simply to show people, whether they are Mother Teresa or Gandhi, are human. It’s possible to be and do good and bad at the same time. When you label a figure as one or the other, however, you begin to look at history from a narrow lens that blinds you to the whole truth. And too often that comes at a price for the powerless few.

Happy Women’s Day

The beautiful hands of the one who created me:

Screen Shot 2017-08-29 at 4.36.57 PM

I drew this simple design on my Mom’s hand on Valentine’s Day. The act held special significance. My Mom is an Indian Hindu widow from more traditional times, widowed young when I was just a child. Tradition holds that once a husband passes, a widow must no longer beautify herself the way she did during his life. So for years my Mom wore white Indian dresses.

You can imagine, then, that to apply henna – usually used to adorn brides- on a widow would be an outrage to the traditional, older types. Shameful even. Especially on Valentines Day.

Yet with the passage of time and the growth of willful, rebellious, authority-defying children in the US, my Mom slowly sheds away what I view as many disempowering customs of old.

And so, mostly unbeknownst to my Mom (she just thought I wanted to doll her up in honor of the day and play with henna) that’s exactly why I did it.

Here’s a toast to my brave, progressive Mother, who often can’t see her brilliance as clearly as I do. The world has been cruel to her as it has many Indian women of her generation and even mine. Being from different times, cultures and countries, we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye but she tries. And for this, I am so proud.

And to every Indian woman like her throwing off the cultural shackles preventing our gender from flying… Thank you. You give me hope. And a future.

Happy Women’s Day.

Representation

One woman’s/man’s views ≠ all women’s/men’s views.

One LGBTQ individual’s views ≠ all LGBTQ’s individuals views

One *insert cultural/religious/socioeconomic group here* views ≠ the views of all *insert cultural/religious/socioeconomic group here* viewsWhy? Each man, each woman, each poor person, and so on is different. Why? Each are ultimately individuals with unique experiences.It is impossible, ultimately, to be a true voice for all groups or even people. Not even the most immaculately-designed research in the world can claim to be fully representative.This sounds really obvious, but it isn’t. I often read articles about people claiming to represent entire groups, sometimes of those I belong to, but I cannot relate at all to despite the fact they claim to speak for me. Then there are times I most certainly can, but many from the same groups I belong to do not.

For example, I am a woman and I think and talk a lot about gender issues. And while sometimes I spout certain views I know many women agree with, or from my own personal experiences, I still cannot sit here and say I speak honestly on behalf of all women. Because I am not (sorry Whitney Houston, RIP) “every woman.” My experiences derive from my unique life circumstances that differ remarkably from another woman’s. There are many who disagree with my views, and they have every right to being women themselves. Their voices are as legitimate as mine, even if I may disagree passionately with them.

But sometimes I meet people who, when trying to argue a point, bring up certain individuals who agree with them from that group. Or they state they are a woman/from that religious group etc…as if that rests the case. When it doesn’t at all. Be humble enough to realize your life does not represent everybody else’s, not even your sister’s, the most genetically alike to you.

I think it bears reminding because it is easy to forget that each individual is different; we cannot always claim to know what they are thinking, or who they are, what they feel and believe, simply based on the group they come from. Sometimes we can have a good, general idea, but never the whole. And that is because each individual is more than the boxes the world artificially constructs for them.

When we forget that the tribe one hails from does not fully represent one’s life, we forget to truly listen and hear another person’s voice. Sometimes, we can even forget our own in all this group identification. We cannot truly be there for another if they need help. We cannot authentically connect. We can even end up imposing our own will onto them because “it worked for one person from your group/country/gender etc…”, so it should work for you.

Just take down your preconceived notions from time to time and hear another out.

Just because the law recognizes you as a human, doesn’t mean the rest of society will

11709740_10155849719340160_967153848676821655_n

“What’s next? The Supreme Court’s going to legalize marrying our dogs? Brothers? Disgusting. And now on top of it, Obama’s taking our dollars and throwing them into the hands of the –”

The infuriated aged man stops to take a deep breath, as if the words he were about to utter were so disgusting he needed to brace himself.

“The goddamn “poor”, he spits outs, the contempt in his tone loud to all.

My hand shook as I poured cream into my coffee, his words and anger both shocking and scaring me.

It was a riveting reminder I wanted to share with you all – a way, I suppose, for myself to make something beautiful out of words so ugly:

While great political wins have occurred, there is a still – and will always be a need – for cultural and psychological shifts. Not just towards the LGBTQ community, but towards every identity – from socioeconomic to racial and gender.

Just because the law recognizes you as a human, doesn’t mean the rest of society will. Don’t let talks of “equality achieved” render you deaf to other forms of inequality. Human equality isn’t some destination with a single linear path, but a part of the greater human narrative – story – whose ending we can’t know but we have a lot of power to influence. Her/History is a story that ends only when humankind ends.

At the same time, don’t despair. Stories do and can get better. People’s hearts and minds can and do change, particularly young people’s, who are the future. So learn, teach and communicate with those willing to respectfully listen and engage.

The future is beautiful and full of hope, but only if we realistically accept and approach the still – and always, so long as fallible humans exist – imperfect present.