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Design Jam Meet Up with openIDEO

I’m excited and nervous to go to my first meetup in NYC tomorrow for openIDEO’s design jam. I’m excited because I’ll finally get to meet people that have the same interests and meet them in person!! I’m nervous because I’ll most likely have to leave my day job early, and beat traffic leaving from NJ. I’m contemplating taking the train verses driving in…. As I think of the current weather conditions I do not look forward to the freezing wind beating my face to death. *Note to self grab some gloves a scarf and hat. I’m still in progress with another design Challenge and I’m hoping I do well in managing what’s on my plate along with what I am adding. 

Meting new people can be nerve racking. A few organizations I’ve been a part of have had ice breakers and improve trainings to help ease the tension. I believe it’s nerve racking for several reasons. One being we focus solely on what we perceive other people think of us. Things like: is my hair ok, do I smell odd, are they judging my shoes…etc. In reality none of that matters if you are genuinely looking to meet someone and learn about them. 

As for me, I’m not one that enjoys small talk. As a matter of fact I can’t stand it. It’s a way we try to pass time and fill the silence we encounter to make it feel less awkward. I enjoy deep conversations, where the fluff doesn’t exist, and where someone isn’t afraid to be their authentic selves. It shows courage actually. 

I’m constantly challenging myself to get comfortable being uncomfortable and traveling and meeting new people is a way to do that. It’s also a great way to challenge my own beliefs and stretch my thinking. I find it interesting to see what other people believe and why they believe it. Often times our experiences shape our beliefs. Until you get out of your element you won’t be able to challenge or stretch that belief. That reminds me…story time:

When I was in college I experienced culture shock on so many levels. I started out at Monctclair State University, there it was fairly diverse – meaning you saw sprinkles of every culture. I transferred after two years to further my study in Industrial design. I got to upstate New York and didn’t see anyone that looked like me. Often times I was the only black person in a class room. Talk about being self conscious!!!! No I was aware of just how white the university I transferred to was. Oh and I was lucky enough to meet someone of color we only had one class together. As a matter of fact I can count nearly on one hand how many people I’ve met that were of Afriacn American decent. 

I also had my first experience with racism at RIT. Actually I encountered it twice. Now don’t get me wrong, I do believe the university has a pleathera of good instructors but again – people are often shaped by their environments. I still cannot get over the fact that people can choose not to like you based on skin color. 

Anyway I haven’t let that experience shape my future or the way I think. I’m still the only black woman in my work place (there’s also a male who’s of African American decent) but we are still treated differently. 

I think the people that are attracted to the values the mission and the goals that IDEO have set are much more open minded. And I can’t wait to get into this design jam session. 

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