Nevertheless, she coded

March 06, 2020

Last year I participated in the “She Coded” prompt run by DEV in honor of International Women’s Day. The post was titled Nevertheless, Laurie Coded and it focused on my disappointment with the harassment women who contributed to tech in public were subjected to. It was a necessary post and most everything I wrote then holds true now.

However, this year I want to talk about how that reality has led me to find my place in this industry. How I’ve evolved and grown beyond the ways in which I initially expected to.

Last year I wanted to fill all the spaces. And I did. Perhaps a bit too well. So many incredible opportunities came my way as a speaker, blogger, educator of all types. It was a truly wonderful experience but it exhausted me in every way. I couldn’t be everything to everyone. Even if I desperately wanted to increase representation in every place I saw.

What that meant for me? I wasn’t sure yet. But it quickly became clear.

I needed to be a multiplier. I needed to create more people to fill those spaces. I was already well on my way I just didn’t realize it.

What being an expert really means

I’ve started talking lately about my definition of an expert. To me, experts aren’t those who write impressively unattainable code. They’re people who write code that feels attainable, yet accomplishes something complicated. They make the complex simple, as it were.

There are areas of tech that I have some expertise in. And I constantly strive to meet that definition of an expert. My goal is always to lower the barrier to entry for the next person. To translate something I’ve learned into a more approachable and teachable pattern.

Making everything I do scale

I can’t be everything to everyone. And I can’t be everywhere. I credit Marcy Sutton and other managers at Gatsby with reminding me that you do things that don’t scale, in order to discover things that do!

For me, that’s meant speaking, blogging, being an egghead instructor and any number of other things. As I become a stronger teacher and have more of an audience to share things with, that allows the effort I put into these platforms to impact more people. Perhaps I’m seen in person at conferences a bit less, but the videos I create are available to a much larger group.

Not everything can scale. But focusing on the things that do is where I’m putting my attention. The majority of which is currently dedicated to the Gatsby docs and learning experience.

The support system behind me

The final piece of the puzzle this year was hating how much I was traveling and how little I saw of my own bed. I am lucky to have a wonderful support system in the form of my husband who keeps everything running when I’m away. I purposefully don’t mention him much to maintain his privacy.

However, this year we added a new family member in the form of Avett, our adorable pup.

Avett wrapped in a red blanket and chewing on her bone.

Having her at home has been a joy and a challenge. She’s a rescue puppy and requires a lot of attention. She prevents me from working quite as much as I have in the past and means I do less in my “off hours”. That means fewer blog posts, less frequent egghead videos, etc. And for me, this year, that’s the right balance.

Going forward

I have no idea what the next year is going to hold. At this point, I know enough to say with confidence I’m not sure where my career will grow next. However, I continue to code and to teach because it allows me to impact more people than I could have imagined. And I hope, in some small way, it helps.


A blog by Laurie Barth.
Teacher of all things tech.