Sarah - you must introduce yourself to these people (and all of us at SQL events) of whom you speak. I know every one of them personally, great friends, ordinary people, I know stuff they don't know (I think :-) ), they know stuff I don't know. Even though I only seem them a couple times a year, it's all about #SQLFamily. A great group that has a great time when we all get together. Alan White put it best at a recent SQL Saturday when he said everyone has something to contribute. Don't be shy.
Great post, by the way. I, too, dabbled in Java until the SQL databases needed attention. I was hooked at that point as well.