The Other Side of Fear

By Amis Maldonado

You could say my entry into the world of Girls Innovate! started last year. To my usual New Year’s resolution suspects of exercising, eating healthy, and punctuality (this is the year – I swear it is!), I added embracing and learning more about technology.

I was that person who preferred the feel and smell of a real book to an e-book. Until recently, I still had a flip phone which, upon seeing it, a friend remarked: “They still make those?” (Sure, your phone has a fancy touchscreen, GPS, and the internet at your fingertips, but can it do this?! — Cue me flipping my phone open and closed again and again.) What’s more, I may be the last remaining person on earth who doesn’t own an Apple product (there are Amazonians who own Apple products…).

I was becoming ossified, uttering phrases like, “Kids these days! Glued to their phones! Good luck getting one to make eye contact with you.” To what did I attribute this seemingly anti-technology stance? The truth is I found technology daunting, a bit scary. There is just so much out there, and every day there’s more! And it’s always changing! How does one keep up?!

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{Amis prepping for Girls Innovate! June 2013 – always ready for a challenge!}

I decided to face my fear and face reality. Here I was, living in the heart of Silicon Valley, home of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, and Tesla. Being in the thick of it all, it was very clear: times are changing, and you either change with them or get left behind.

I didn’t want to be left behind.

So I decided that, rather than handing my laptop when it was broken to my techie friend and saying, “It’s acting screwy, fix it,” I said, “Tell me what’s wrong with it and show me how to fix it.” That small step was empowering. I learned something, and I wanted to learn more.

Fast forward a couple of months and I spot a little flyer at work: “GIRLS INNOVATE! EMPOWERING GIRLS FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND LEADERSHIP. Free event, space is limited.” Hmmm, all things I support – sign me up. Unfortunately, registration was full. How was I going to weasel my way in? I would volunteer! These things always need volunteers. A few email exchanges, and I was set.

My life changed. I discovered a world of empowering, successful women, right here at home. They had become extremely successful in a field dominated by men, and they were eager to share their time, knowledge, and experience to bring more women and girls in. Their generosity was humbling, their stories inspiring. There was a common thread in all their stories: be fearless. Don’t be afraid to try, don’t be afraid of change, don’t be afraid to fail. Fear paralyzes; and if you’re paralyzed, you’re not changing and you’re not growing.

When I faced my fear of technology I thought, what’s the worst that could happen? Well, I’ll tell you what, I gained more than I could have imagined: I learned something new; I became empowered, and I met some pretty incredible women.

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