Much like Carlsberg is probably the best beer in the world, Codecamp is probably the biggest conference in Romania. It turned ten this year, enrolling in an events spree throughout the country, even passing the borders, so it can continue to grow a community built on the very foundation formed of values set a long time ago - knowledge sharing, openness, commitment and fun.
I've yet to find a conference that is so dear to my heart. That makes me shiver because of the excitement. That brings so many smiles and so many beautiful people in one place. And lastly but not least, that I feel so indebted to because of the ways it has changed me.
This post is a short reflection on the whole experience. A tribute to the evolutionary process that I've been lucky enough to witness and be part of. And hopefully, it will also inspire some of you to do more for the community. Whether that's speaking or organising a conference.
I've been with Codecamp for about five years now. It caught me in my early stages of my professional career. Even then, I knew I had something to share with an audience, but I didn't know how. I was scared I would make a fool of myself. And I guess a little too proud to let my ego suffer a possible failure.
That's when I met Florin. He is one of the core organisers of Codecamp and he also possesses this sometimes uncanny ability to encourage people to bring up the best in themselves and take action in doing what they want despite their conservation instincts. So he talked me into showing up for the next edition of the conference. And that's how Responsive images in the wild was born.
That first presentation was kinda shitty. I was nervous. I remember the feeling before starting the talk. Looking around a packed room of about eighty people, all staring at me and probably laughing on the inside at the guy who had no beard at that time and a way too simplistic topic. And it was scary, to the point it became visceral. I remember rehearsing the opening phrase in my head and thinking it just sounds stupid. That I was stupid. And that I'll make a fool of myself. It physically hurt.
This state of mind though lasted only for a couple of minutes at the beginning of my talk. Then, it became something distant. A feeling that no longer bothered me. I was fully immersed in the experience of sharing. And strangely, it was making me happier than I imagined I could have ever been moments before. That's when I tapped into the values this community was built upon and I started draining my sense of purpose from the fact that I was in front of a group of people talking to them about how they can become better professionals. It was me doing that. And it felt mystical, surreal.
In hindsight, I couldn't be happier that I accepted Florin's proposal. As much of an emotional roller-coaster as it was, the entire experience proved to be the kickstart that I needed to further grow my speaking and technical skills. And if there is something that Florin taught me, is to make my mind run with an irrational fear of embarrassment and a vicious grind focused on constant personal development. That set the base for my evolution. And I'll be forever grateful to him for this.
It's rare that I miss a Codecamp edition. Nowadays, I'm infinitely more relaxed before my talks. I try to encourage others to jump into this experience. Yet I'm still surprised how much I learn with each passing event. Speaking is a two-way street. You give your time and knowledge to an audience and they give you back moments of uncertainty, a little bit of fear, tons of excitement, a glimpse of happiness, a sense of purpose, a room full of smiles and interesting questions at the end from which you always have something to learn. If you factor in the friends and the connections you make, I'd say that's a pretty good deal.
Being part of this movement was one of the best things that happened to my professional career. It opened up roads I probably wouldn't have explored on my own. I've grown to appreciate more the effort that goes into building a community like this over the years and organising a conference. I've also had the chance to take all that knowledge and have my fair share of experiences organising other conferences, building communities or putting together technical events. I couldn't have done that without the proper context, without myself being part of a movement whose aim is to bring people together so they can share things.
Codecamp and conferences in general, are so great because they run on the most valuable currency of this world. Time. Time is the only currency we never get back. That's why it's so important. It only moves forward. Codecamp is about people taking their time to come together and build something greater than themselves. It's about sharing in an environment filled with respect and curiosity. It's about helping each other become better professionals. And all that, while being aware no one's going to get that time back. But they all see it as an investment and for that, they all deserve a hat-off gesture and a big thank you.
Much respect and appreciation for the organising team. It's hard to put together events like this, but the success and longevity of Codecamp prove the people behind it are true professionals, who know what they're doing.
I'm extremely grateful for being welcomed to this movement. I'm here to stay and further help build the community. And if you ever want to say hi, ask a question or just talk about interesting things, come find me at the next Codecamp edition. I'm a chatty guy!
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