Thoughts on Beard Bash

I attended my first-ever Beard Bash last night. I had a blast.

The event was way crowded and way loud, but the crowdedness and noise were worth the experience. I didn’t really talk to many people, and it was hard to make out faces in a (relatively) dark venue, but just being part of the Bash was incredible.

I saw Steve Streza from Pocket. I saw Marco Arment three times. I think I saw Jason Snell, but I couldn’t be sure. I’m bummed that I missed seeing Stephen Hackett, Myke Hurley, Matthew Panzarino, and others. I saw a lot of Apple engineers running the iOS 7 beta. I even met a guy from App.net. And, of course, I saw Jim Dalrymple. There was a mix-up with getting into the party at first, because Jim had forgotten to put my name on the guest list, and he never sent me a Passbook invitation. (Because he invited me after they’d gone out to others.) I had to wait for a half-hour by the elevators, seeing people file in and out, before I saw The Beard walk towards me. He said hello and we shook hands, and he apologized profusely for forgetting to put my name on the list. Then, he personally escorted me to the party — right after his daughter, Nicole, greeted me to stamp my hand.

I don’t mean for this piece to come off like I’m a starstruck Apple nerd. I will admit that there is a certain “celebrity” feel to meeting and being around so many people whom you admire, but it was more than that for me. I know Jim doesn’t invite just anyone to hang out with him, and the entire time I was there, I felt like I belonged. Jim was so gracious in talking to me, and genuinely pleased I came. Likewise, others I spoke to knew of my writing and were very complimentary of my work, particularly because of my accessibility expertise. It just felt so good, the validation of being invited and actually being there. More than anything, I have more confidence now that what I write about adds tremendous value to the Apple writer/developer community. Accessibility matters, and being at Beard Bash last night showed me that others think so too. In other words, I’ve done great work.

I may never be as Internet famous as Jim or John Gruber, never be invited by Apple to keynotes or be in on app betas, but my contributions matters. I know my niche and I know I have writing talent, so I will continue on. I will continue pitching to The Magazine and Macworld and TidBITS, and I will love what I do. Because I do. Last night did a lot of good for my self-esteem and self-worth. It felt like the culmination of all my hard work so far. This ride has been so wild, yet so exciting and rewarding. And this journey is still just beginning for me. In my own small way, I feel like part of the fraternity now.

I thanked Jim via Twitter last night after I got home for such a wonderful night. He says I’m welcome back to Beard Bash next year. I’m sure it’ll be even better than this year’s!