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  • jenvanantwerp

The Birth of Sober in Cyber

Have you ever had the experience of an idea first entering your mind as a whisper, then after you've attempted to ignore it, it just gets louder and louder until it demands your attention? That's exactly what happened with the birth of Sober in Cyber.

I've been clean & sober since 2000, and have worked in two fairly disparate industries prior to starting my journey in cybersecurity. First, I worked in the automotive industry for 10+ years, followed by almost another decade in healthcare and healthcare-focused non-profit organizations. I've now had the pleasure of working in the exciting (and occasionally ulcer-inducing) world of cybersecurity for almost three years.

One thing that I've learned after working in three disparate industries is that despite their differences, there are many similarities. One of the unfortunate similarities is that nearly every professional networking activity revolves around alcohol, or at least it plays a large role in the event. Wine pairings, whiskey tastings, happy hours, paint & sip parties, pub crawls, cybersecurity cocktails, CyBeer events aplenty... you get the drift.

I don't fault the hosts or vendors for the plethora of alcohol-related events, because they are a big draw for many people. I'm not one to expect the world to shift or bend itself just to help me with *my* personal issue. But dangit, I kept thinking about how wonderful it would be to attend a work event.. JUST ONE... where I didn't have to keep a sparkling water in my hand at all times, or keep explaining to people (who are often just being polite and considerate) why I wasn't drinking.

The initial thought of "Sober in Cyber" began as a whisper in my brain in 2022, and the whisper got louder and louder until I finally acknowledged it out loud during a Zoom networking event in March 2023. In a Zoom call with six attendees, two of us ended up being sober. Who woulda thunk it!? I talked about it with more people during RSAC in April, and was again blown away by how many people shared that they had also struggled with addiction and were excited about the prospect of connecting with other sober people within our industry.

When those whispers first start to take root and you get that flash of inspiration, don't delay! If you ignore them or over-ruminate, they WILL get louder until you take action. 😉 If you're a sober individual working in the cybersecurity industry, join our community Discord, and reach out if you'd like to be interviewed for the Sober in Cyber podcast! Let's break the stigma surrounding addiction recovery, and get ourselves some sweet mocktail events in the process.

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