The Beginning of a New Journey- 2 mins
The world of Free Software is pretty intimidating, at least that’s what I have felt since my very first encounter with those words itself. In whatever way you plan to contribute whether technical or non-technical, everyone around is going to notice that.
For most of the time, I thought about starting to contribute but it always ended with what, where and how; plus realising that I probably don’t know enough was such a bummer. Also, the fear of picking up even the smallest of tasks with such experienced and knowledgeable people around is super scary (even today).
I gradually crawled into the Debian community(was probably dragged) with great support from a few friends, the baby steps led me to interning with the very same community under Outreachy. No, it wasn’t a one go process for me, everything I knew about FOSS and Outreachy had built a hefty amount of fear within me. So, the first time I planned to apply for Outreachy all I could do was create an account, that’s it, end of it. The second time, I went a step ahead and filled up the initial application form, which got accepted within 24 hours and then I went through the projects, read about them all, saw the requirements and just couldn’t figure out where to apply, it all felt huge and beyond my scope and that’s about it. This term was the third time I applied for it, filled up the initial application and went for Debian’s project “Packaging GitLab’s JS Modules”.
The first thing I did was to send an introductory email to the mentors (Utkarsh Gupta, Sruthi Chandran, Pirate Praveen and Xavier (yadd)), and went through the initial tasks. Soon that introductory email turned into a FAQ thread, about how to go about things what to do, getting stuck on stuff and finding help regarding those, and some great documents/ resources to go through; with all that hustle I was able to complete the initial tasks and communicate with the mentors.
Do you remember the first line of this blog? Well all of it is still intimidating and I still am scared of everything but the good part is everyone here helps you out to lessen that fear. Whenever I was stuck I could just email my mentors and there they were happily helping with even the simplest of things. I am so glad that I finally applied, it has been quite a journey from using Debian to starting to contribute to it, I haven’t gotten any far up till now, but I am trying.
Winding it up, I would say if you are sailing in the same boat of dilemma and fear, I believe you just need to start talking to people, there won’t ever be the right time where you could say you know enough, or it would all feel easy; but I am sure you’ll find so many people who will be willing to help you and guide you through all of it. With that in my mind, I am really thankful to Outreachy and all of my mentors. :D