Some of you may have noticed that I was absent from several events over the last month, specifically, DrupalCon Dublin, PHPNW, and BulgariaPHP.
I had intended to fly from my home to Dublin, before hopping over to Manchester, and then finally on to Sofia before coming back home again.
I was stoked to attend my first ever DrupalCon, to be going back home for the excellent PHPNW, and ending my trip with my favorite conference of 2015, BgPHP. It was going to be amazing.
And I couldn’t do it.
I did a lot of travel last year, and it was amazing. And tiring. I decided this year to do less travel, and I think that objectively, I have. However, this year is the first time my son has also cried when I’ve left, and my travel has been bunched up such that I’ve been away on several long trips.
I had just completed an unexpected West-East-West-East-West (SEA (Home) -> BUF (CodeDaze) -> SEA (PNWPHP) -> JFK (Velocity) -> SEA (Home)) and it was exhausting.
So, as I got up, said goodbye to my family, and loaded my stuff in my cab to the airport, I was anxious about being away for yet another extended period of time.
We started our drive to the airport, and I used my time to share my feelings with some friends via Twitter… and it became clear to me that I was either experiencing, or close to burnout.
Despite my embarrassment, I had my driver turn around and take me home. I cancelled my flights, my hotels, and told my boss. I contacted DrupalCon and went to bed. After I got up again, I contacted PNWPHP, and yet… I still hoped to make BgPHP. I thought maybe I could get my shit together in 5 days or so and still make the event I’d been looking forward to all year. But no… I couldn’t. And so, a few days later I told them too.
For those wondering, my emails were something like this:
Hi Ramelina (and the rest of the BgPHP crew),
As you know BgPHP is my absolute favorite conference in the entire world… however, I won’t be able to make it this year :(
After scaling back my travel due to mental health reasons I’m no longer able to attend :(
I understand that this is less than ideal for you and the wonderful attendees, and I’d like to do anything possible to make it easier for you.
Please let me know if I can be of any help, and if there any costs (such as hotel) that I need to cover.
I’m really sorry :(
And you know what? Everyone was fantastic. Nobody got mad, nobody was upset, they all just wished me well, and I’m sure scrambled to fix the mess I had made. And I am eternally grateful.
And dreadfully sorry.
I am sorry to the organizers, of course, but also to the attendees and wider community. As a Developer Advocate, I would like to be relied on by conference organizers and the community, as a known entity of stability. This is why, for example, I always let organizers know I have other talks I can give if someone else can’t speak for any reason. This is why I try to always get in early, and I work so hard on my slides.
I’m currently writing this from Berlin, and in truth, there was still a bit of anxiety leaving for this trip (with Akamai Edge in San Francisco first) — but, I’m glad I did it, if only to prove to myself that I still can.
Thank you, to every one who reached out to me when they heard I wasn’t going to make it, and in person this week, it meant a lot to me.
I will try to do better.
Update: 28 Oct, 2016
The Lead DrupalCon Coordinator (Amanda Gonser sent me this (published with permission):
Just saw your blog and wanted to say that I am happy you took care of yourself. I am glad to hear you’re doing better but still getting out there! We look forward to having you at another DrupalCon in the future if you’re up for it.
Thank you so much Amanda, I still hope to attend my first DrupalCon soon!
Photo by GPS, used under a CC-BY-SA 2.0 License.