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Lessons I've Learned from 100 Virtual Coffees

BekahHW
Hey! I'm Bekah. I'm a career-changer. Bootcamp grad. Dev. Writer. Mom to four kids. Creator and Maintainer: VirtualCoffee.io | Podcast co-host: VirtualCoffee.io/podcast
Originally published at bekahhw.github.io on ・3 min read

Virtual Coffee Logo: A mug made with curly braces and a bracket handle, with </> on the inside and a tagline: An intimate community for all devs, optimized for you
It’s almost been a year since Virtual Coffee was born from my cry of desperation into the Twittersphere. From knowing that I couldn’t let myself be isolated during the time the world was calling for isolation. I knew from my experience with trauma four years ago that I needed community to get me through this, even though I’m shy and an introvert and that reaching out into the Twitter void and opening myself up at this most vulnerable moment was terrifying. And now on this 100th Coffee, I’m going to talk about what I’ve learned just from those zoom sessions–I’ll save the rest of the things I’ve learned for the one-year Virtual Coffee post.

What those coffees started as were a place to talk during social isolation, a place to make friends, a place to laugh and to cry and to watch my 3 year old daughter pour all the leave-in conditioner she could find into my hair. It started as a place to be fully myself because the stress of looking for work during the pandemic, of having the kids home and doing school, of not knowing what tomorrow’s interview would bring was enough that I didn’t even have the emotional energy to spend trying to only show the parts of myself I thought were acceptable.

What it became was a beautiful community of people who I missed when they weren’t there, an event that people were putting in newsletters, a place where you are welcomed to participate in the ways that make you feel comfortable. A place where every person is met and welcomed as a person before anything else–developer, student, founder. A place where every person can be a mentor, a student, a friend.

And this is (a non-exhaustive) list of what I’ve learned from those Coffees:

  • Caring about other people, really knowing and caring about them, can make a huge impact.
  • Sometimes you won’t know what to say. That’s ok.
  • Apologize when you need to.
  • People you’ve never met in real life can be your closest friends.
  • Like we say at the beginning of every coffee, “An awkward pause for one person, can be an opportunity for another person to join in.”
  • Sometimes differences in opinions and life experiences can be really hard to navigate, but if you put in the time and effort, they can lead to some of the most important moments of growth.
  • One person’s support can make all the difference.
  • It is ok to ask questions, to ask for clarification, to disagree.
  • Sometimes you’ll disappoint people.
  • Sometimes people will disappoint you.
  • Sometimes people won’t like you or won’t think you’re good enough, and it will hurt.
  • Sometimes remembering the little things are the most meaningful.
  • Everyone is motivated in different ways. Knowing them, understanding where they’re at in life, can go a long way in being a supportive friend.
  • Kindness matters.
  • Sometimes honesty hurts, even when it’s offered with kindness.
  • Willingness to listen and openness to different opinions is important.
  • Having a supportive community is one of the most important things for growth.
  • Sometimes you’re the only one who shows up for that person on your screen.
  • Psychological safety is incredibly important.
  • Bidets are not for snorkeling.
  • Sometimes we underestimate people who are different than us.
  • Vulnerability invites vulnerability.
  • There is never a time when I don’t learn from someone else.
  • Sometimes people just need a chance. Sometimes you have to be willing to offer that chance.

There is so much I’ve learned from these Tuesday/Thursday zoom coffees. Having the opportunity to see and hear from people all over the world, with all different experience levels has been an irreplaceable experience. When you’re in a place where you feel supported and safe, you’re ability to grow–in expected and unexpected ways–is unparalleled.

Discussion (6)

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drewclem profile image
Drew Clements

I'm not as active in VC as I want to be, but I take away something useful with every interaction within it, whether it's from the slack or a meet-up.

I honestly don't know what my life would be had it not been for VC. Best. Community. Ever. Hands down.

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sethburtonhall profile image
Seth Hall

Thanks you @bekahhw . VC is such a blessing.

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bekahhw profile image
BekahHW Author

I feel the same way : )

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saramccombs profile image
Sara McCombs (she/her)

DITTO to all this. And, yes, bidets are not for snorkeling. Will never forget that particular virtual coffee.

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kirkcodes profile image
Kirk Shillingford

Virtual Coffee has taught me so much, it feels like I'll never be able to pay it back.

But I can definitely try to pay it forward :)

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bekahhw profile image
BekahHW Author

You’re always paying it forward ❤️