Been A While Since I Was Rejected 😅

It’s not an easy lesson to grasp, but rejection is NOT an indictment on our intrinsic worth.

Hello there! A warm welcome to my newest subscribers - glad you’re here! 🥰

In this issue, I discuss my first conference proposal rejections, and my realization that my friends’ shoulders are just as strong as mine. I also introduce Polywork, which is serving as a wonderful replacement for my LinkedIn account. 👀

Enjoy! 😋

My 2 Conference Proposals Were Rejected


Remember when I shared that I had applied to speak at CascadiaJS 2021 and Codeland Conf 2021?

Well, BOTH my proposals were rejected. 😫

I’m okay though! I’m sharing this news mostly because I don’t see many stories about such rejections, which can make one feel singled out and less than when a conference refuses your proposal.

When I learned of CascadiaJS, the “JS” in their name made me dismiss the prospect of speaking there; Javascript is not my strongest programming language, so what was I going to speak on? However, when I read their Call For Proposals (CFP), the following section changed my mind:

We are also looking for stories from folks who belong to underrepresented groups (URMs) in our industry. Seattle (and the Pacific Northwest) has a bad reputation for being pretty homogenous, and we want to create an environment for all kinds of speakers, from all kinds of backgrounds, because we believe that makes a difference in shifting the inclusivity of our industry forward.

My proposal was for a lightning talk on Getting Started Contributing to Open Source. I’d planned a story-form presentation, leaning into my background as a Black, over-40 woman-in-tech.

CascadiaJS’s rejection email was gracious and sincere; they explained that they received a record number of proposals, and had to make some tough decisions to exclude some applicants. They also offered me a discounted conference ticket. 🙏

A part of me wonders whether a more technical proposal would have made the cut. The truth is: I could still have been rejected. 🤷🏽‍♀️

My company Forem is co-producing CodelandConf, and talks will have two main formats: lightning talks and workshops. After their CFP (and my response to lead a lightning talk), Forem decided that our employees would lead the workshops, and are thus ineligible for lightning talks.

It’s alright to not be what a person, an organization, or a conference wants. It’s completely okay! It’s not an easy lesson to grasp, but rejection is NOT an indictment on our intrinsic worth. Yes, what we have to offer right now may not benefit the recipients. But we can learn, grow, improve and develop skills and competencies that will be sought-after eventually.

How have you handled rejection in your life? What can we do to further normalize the rejection experience? Share in the comments.

Learning To Let Others Be Strong (For Me)


For much of my life, I have been the strong friend, ready to weather the storm with you. The wise friend, ready to offer you good advice. The level-headed friend, ready to present all pertinent viewpoints so that you can make the best decision.

I am not complaining. It has been a blessing to be such to many through the years.

Still, being so used to offering my shoulder, I confess that I do not always recognize or lean on the strength around me.

Case in point: a few newsletters back, I shared about a rough time I’d experienced at work and how I was slowly recovering from that season. Soon after publishing, I received the following text from a friend of mine (in some spots, she speaks ‘pidgin English’, which is common in Nigeria, my home country 😊 ):

Sis!!! I just read your newsletter and the one before that! Had no idea you had such a rough patch at work. Habaaa, am I your friend if you can’t vent to me? No be only surface-surface matter we go discuss oo. Glad to see you’re getting your groove back… onward and upward!!!

Now, for the most part, this friend and I are transparent with and supportive of each other. We talk freely about most things - that wasn’t the issue. The point is while I was actively in this rough work-patch, I did not lean on her. It actually did not occur to me to reach out and rest on her strong shoulders. Which is why I was so glad that she messaged me about it, thus deepening the intimacy of our friendship. 🥰

What about you? How do you balance giving and receiving, supporting and being supported? Comment below!

Polywork - a better, more useful LinkedIn?


I first learned of Polywork from TechTwitter; without knowing much about the service, I signed up… because it seemed every developer on Twitter was doing the same, okay, I said it! 😆

I was pleasantly surprised. Polywork features a flexible, feature-rich timeline to which you can add all sorts of information: typical employment history details, speaking and podcast engagements, collaborations with other Polywork members.

For some time, I had sought a way to document my achievements great and small. We tend to remember the big things, like a promotion. However, I also wanted to track day-to-day activities, engagements and accomplishments. For me, Polywork has fit the bill seamlessly.

A huge congratulations to Polywork for raising a $13M Series A! 🎉 You may now skip the waitlist and signup with the code a16z.