I left DEFCON last year wondering how I could give back. This year, I realized that I've always been giving back.
I almost skipped DEFCON 23. I lost my means of support in May and my savings is running out. The wise thing would have been to stay home. But I justified how I should throw caution to the wind and find the means to go, and I'm so glad I did. DEFCON never disappoints.
Highlights of my DC23 experience:
- Brought my own phonograph so I could listen to the badge
- Helped run the first-year Biohacking Village
- Socialized and made new friends and contacts
- Networked and pursued job opportunities (this is how I justified the expense)
- Enjoyed Queercon 12 events and Queercon's sweet badge
- Attended the Telephreak party
But the real highlight wasn't any single event; it was something I carried within me through the series of mind-blowing events that made up DEFCON. It really is all about "what you bring to the party." This is such a huge ridiculous lifecoachy cliché… but you don't really grok these tidbits of wisdom until you've experienced certain angles of life and succeeded at taking the right kinds of risks.
For the last few years, I've been developing social confidence. These are skills I've been trying to learn my whole life, but confidence cannot be taught. It can only be learned. There is no secret recipe, and describing my path to this point would fill it's own blog post. But I can distill the core of what I've learned into simple phrase:
You have something to give.
Once you grok this concept, not just on the surface, but on a deep level, it becomes easily to have faith in your strengths and talents. Then the social confidence just follows.