Advice From One of Three Girls in Robotics

There’s a terrible feeling you get when you’re standing with an offset screwdriver in your hand and a look of utter perplexity on your face. Your face flushes. You swallow to get rid of the rock that is lodged in your throat. Suddenly, everyone in the room looks at you with eyebrows raised, with faces that scream, “Do you seriously not know how to use an offset screwdriver?”

There’s also a wonderful feeling you get when you screw in the nail into the plexiglass without it breaking, and all of a sudden, you feel like a world-class technician. You smile. You push the safety glasses up on your face higher. You drill. You succeed. Suddenly, everyone glances at you with a nod, and they go back to their work. But you keep drilling, building, creating.

You’re going to have both of these moments in your life. Moments where you feel like you don’t know anything in a room full of people who seem to know everything. You’re going to feel uncomfortable, like you are the nails clawing on the chalkboard. You’re going to have discomfort rush through you like a chilled wave in an ocean of agony. You’re going to doubt yourself, you, one of only three girls standing in a room full of boys.

But, you’re also going to have moments where finally, you feel like you’re doing something right. You’re going to have a wildfire of triumph ignited within you, and each blaze will swoosh through your veins to your brain, to your heart, to every cell within you so that you keep succeeding. The inferno will eventually be doused by some snide remarks, a couple of failures, but mainly your own insecurity. Yes, that’s right, your own insecurity is the water that drowns out the orange and yellows of your successes. You need to stand there with a fire-suit of confidence, with layers of concrete — the best fire-proofing material.

I’ve had a plethora of these emotions — the insecurity, the certainty, the confusion, the “ah-ha!” And these emotions are glaringly obvious in Robotics Club. Sometimes I’ll stand with tools I don’t know how to use, and the guys tell me, “Here, I’ll help you with that.” But other times, I will have successfully coded the CIM motor, and I know that I was destined to do what I love to do — creating and coding.

After reflecting on the “Maybe I should give up” moments, I realize that no one was looking at me with “Do you seriously not know how to do that” eyes. It was my own fear of failure that made me think they were judging, that made red creep up on my neck. In reality, they did not care; they just wanted the job to be done.

Robotics Club is a brutal test of self love. Simultaneously, it is a divine adventure where with each nail I screw in, each measurement I take, each line I code, I step outside of my comfort zone inch by inch. My comfort zone is a wooden cage, a morass of bark and splinters. But it is the incandescence of my confidence that burns this cage down. That’s how you learn and grow, by stepping out of this zone. My best friend Odeya once told me, “People spend too much of their time being comfortable. Be uncomfortable.” Because that’s what it took, being uncomfortable, having moments of embarrassment but recovering through my successes.

Being in Robotics Club is one of the best experiences of my life. Sometime, I feel uncomfortable, yes, but I always try to quench my discomfort by learning as much as I can and asking questions. I’m never afraid to say, “Well, how do you use an offset screwdriver? Why are you using it? Can I see the code? I don’t understand why we are designing it like that.” Because remember, “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.

You’re going to have all of these moments. You’re going to feel like a fish out of water. But the key is to rock your confidence, even when you feel like staying in that cage. No, burn that cage down. Ignite your confidence so that its orange hues beam on the faces of your insecurities. It’s up to you to shine bright and be powerful. You can do it.

There’s a terrible feeling you get when you’re standing with an offset screwdriver in your hand and a look of utter perplexity on your face. Your face flushes. You swallow to get rid of the rock that is lodged in your throat. Suddenly, everyone in the room looks at you with eyebrows raised, with faces that scream, “Do you seriously not know how to use an offset screwdriver?”

There’s also a wonderful feeling you get when you screw in the nail into the plexiglass without it breaking, and all of a sudden, you feel like a world-class technician. You smile. You push the safety glasses up on your face higher. You drill. You succeed. Suddenly, everyone glances at you with a nod, and they go back to their work. But you keep drilling, building, creating.

You’re going to have both of these moments in your life. Moments where you feel like you don’t know anything in a room full of people who seem to know everything. You’re going to feel uncomfortable, like you are the nails clawing on the chalkboard. You’re going to have discomfort rush through you like a chilled wave in an ocean of agony. You’re going to doubt yourself, you, one of only three girls standing in a room full of boys.

But, you’re also going to have moments where finally, you feel like you’re doing something right. You’re going to have a wildfire of triumph ignited within you, and each blaze will swoosh through your veins to your brain, to your heart, to every cell within you so that you keep succeeding. The inferno will eventually be doused by some snide remarks, a couple of failures, but mainly your own insecurity. Yes, that’s right, your own insecurity is the water that drowns out the orange and yellows of your successes. You need to stand there with a fire-suit of confidence, with layers of concrete — the best fire-proofing material.

I’ve had a plethora of these emotions — the insecurity, the certainty, the confusion, the “ah-ha!” And these emotions are glaringly obvious in Robotics Club. Sometimes I’ll stand with tools I don’t know how to use, and the guys tell me, “Here, I’ll help you with that.” But other times, I will have successfully coded the CIM motor, and I know that I was destined to do what I love to do — creating and coding.

After reflecting on the “Maybe I should give up” moments, I realize that no one was looking at me with “Do you seriously not know how to do that” eyes. It was my own fear of failure that made me think they were judging, that made red creep up on my neck. In reality, they did not care; they just wanted the job to be done.

Robotics Club is a brutal test of self love. Simultaneously, it is a divine adventure where with each nail I screw in, each measurement I take, each line I code, I step outside of my comfort zone inch by inch. My comfort zone is a wooden cage, a morass of bark and splinters. But it is the incandescence of my confidence that burns this cage down. That’s how you learn and grow, by stepping out of this zone. My best friend Odeya once told me, “People spend too much of their time being comfortable. Be uncomfortable.” Because that’s what it took, being uncomfortable, having moments of embarrassment but recovering through my successes.

Being in Robotics Club is one of the best experiences of my life. Sometime, I feel uncomfortable, yes, but I always try to quench my discomfort by learning as much as I can and asking questions. I’m never afraid to say, “Well, how do you use an offset screwdriver? Why are you using it? Can I see the code? I don’t understand why we are designing it like that.” Because remember, “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever.

You’re going to have all of these moments. You’re going to feel like a fish out of water. But the key is to rock your confidence, even when you feel like staying in that cage. No, burn that cage down. Ignite your confidence so that its orange hues beam on the faces of your insecurities. It’s up to you to shine bright and be powerful. You can do it.

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