I missed last week and there’s a story behind that. I’m a big fan of The Golden Girls, so humor me for a few minutes – this might be lengthy (it is!).
Picture this… last Tuesday I’m sitting at my work desk listening to #CodeNewbie podcasts & queuing up this post to pass the time while doing the bare minimum at the job. Why am I doing the bare minimum you ask? Well I’m not one to half-step my way through life but for this job I decided that I couldn’t invest more time than I should any longer. I was hired for a position and wasn’t given the material resources to do it. I’m not talking about hand-holding through simple tasks. I literally didn’t have the equipment to do my job and every week for the first two months I asked about the progress and they danced around the question. I eventually concluded (after some additional research) that I wasn’t welcomed there – they didn’t want me. Why else would you hire someone for a job and not even give them the bare minimum resources to even attempt to do the work?
In addition to that, I was reporting to someone who I learned through others was incompetent in on-boarding and fixated more on micromanaging things like how I organized my bookmarks rather than including me on pertinent group emails. When I joined they said they were excited, but I soon learned that was not true. So instead of continuing to stress myself about it every day (which I did for the first 3 months – very bad decision), I started just doing the little I could with what I had and spent the rest of my time strategizing on my next move. It’s true that this job was needed as I relocated and would use it to secure a home for myself, but I came in with the intention of growing. Just two months into my role, the man that hired me was unceremoniously dismissed, which let me know that my time there was certainly over, sooner than later. Every night I would pack up everything I had, not knowing if I would be returning the next morning, on my own account or theirs.
So this particular Tuesday I’m just randomly selecting episodes, some that appeal my interests and my current transitional space. Three really resonated with me: the interview with Rachel Nabors, Felicia and Jamal O’Garro (the Code Couple), and Scott Hanselman. I suggest you listen to all of them!
Rachel talked about how she transitioned from a career as a comic illustrator to web development. One thing she said that I think is very important for folks like myself who have some experience but not a ton and are trying to not necessarily play “catch-up” but learn enough to be productive & profitable was that you can’t know all the things. This was in response to a question asking her how she kept up with all of the challenges she faced during the web development process. Her wonderful response was “You cross each bridge(or river) when you get to it.”
If you’re a perfectionist or have those tendencies even a little, progress is staled because you’re trying to dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ to the point that you’re not even making gains. Not to say that you shouldn’t care about the integrity of your work but sometimes our need to try to be everything right now is an obstacle. It’s just not possible for me to learn every library of xyz or capability (we all love to have info – JUST IN CASE WE NEED IT) but when the time comes, I should at least know how to go about getting that information.
During the podcast she also talked about a medium.com post she wrote on the awful advice of “do what you love and the mula will come.” Instead she wrote:
“I don’t like advice like “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Not because it isn’t true, but because it’s a monkey’s paw: it’s true under the right circumstances with the right people, and for everyone else, it’s just bad advice.”
Yes, right place, time, circumstances…very Malcolm Gladwell Tipping Point-esque action going on there.
What stood out to me was this quote:
“But my first love, comics, gives me an edge in this industry. If I’d just gone straight into web development because it seemed like a money-maker, I wouldn’t be half as excited about what I can do or as interesting to others in my field. I and my community are better for the years I spent making comics, even if it wasn’t a successful career choice.
But, if I’d kept “doing what I love” in the industry that didn’t love me back, I would have never realized that there are other, more profitable, things I love.”
I’d just had this conversation with someone earlier, bemoaning how long it’s taken me to really get down to business with web development (15 years tbh). But then I think about where I’d be now if that was my first choice and I hated it. Both wild possibilities but I’m more excited about this than I’ve been about anything else for the last 5 years, which is saying a whole lot.
Ultimately she ended the piece with the best advice, one that I’ve kind of adapted as I’ve struggled to really pin down my interests over the last few years:
“Don’t do something you hate for a living.
There is no glory in suffering. Because you can grow to hate something you love if it puts you in a bad position, this advice gives you permission to move on to greener pastures if what you love is making you cry at night. Whatever you love should love you back. And if it’s not working out, it’s ok to find something else to love.
I think we all have more than one calling in life in the same way that we could fall in love with more than one person. In fact, loving more than one person prior to marriage often makes you a better partner! Couldn’t the same be true of professions?”
In the podcast with Felicia & Jamal they both talked about how they wasted no time in seeking employment once they started learning. They didn’t wait until they were at 100% proficiency to start freelancing which I liked. I struggle with feeling like I don’t know enough – although I’m quite proficient in HTML/CSS, having learned & used it quite regularly for the last 15 years. I’m working through those issues but it’s good to know there is still room to grow, learn, and make money in the process. In fact, Jamal spoke at length about how he spent a good 2 months with self-immersive learning before looking for a job, something I plan on doing as well (more on that later!).
In the podcast with Scott, he talked about his personal journey as a developer and called for more sympathy from more experienced programmers with newbies. There are many things to know and as tech continues to evolve, there will always be a new language. It’s more important to understand the fundamentals and logic and learning how to learn then just learning language syntax.
Finishing off my #CodeNewbies podcast story – Scott also talked about the “Keys Left” program he created that calculates how many keystrokes you have left to use before you die. We’re mortal, so nothing about us stays the same. Our skin will start to sag, our knees will ache, and our motor skills will slow down eventually – no matter how active you are. It’s inevitable. He kind of applied that logic to keystrokes – we only have so many keystrokes left in hands/fingertips. As someone whose struggled with wrist issues for years due to the stress of a previous jobs, this really hit me. I hated that I was developing a possible condition doing work I didn’t care about. I kind of strengthened my resolve to do better.
Anyway, he created a program that calculates the number of keystrokes you have left based on your age & WPM & other variables. Of course it’s an estimate but he considers it an empowering piece of information. After hearing him talk about it and even calculating my keystrokes left, I felt that sting again. The same one I felt years ago when my wrists hurt so bad daily I asked my job to purchase a wrist thing due to all the clicking I did daily. We have a limited amount of time on this earth and I feel really strongly about wasting that time doing things I hate. If we all knew how many hours/days/weeks/months/years we had left to live, I’d like to think we would change our approach to living.
The reality is that we have bills and other wack ass adult responsibilities that keep us from carpe diem-ing our way through life. So I didn’t quit. I couldn’t quit again although I’ve tossed the idea around with my friends who sternly admonished me. The sum of all the podcasts, but especially the “Keys Left” program empowered me. I planned to go home and get my ass moving. I spent the rest of the day reading blogs about coding and listening to podcasts.
I left the office that Tuesday at 5p on the dot because a few weeks prior the crazy girl I worked with told me I shouldn’t work over 40 hours a week. I made sure from that day forth to not spend no more than 40 hours there each week. While I waited for the bus to take me home, I received a phone call informing me I would not be returning to work the next day. “Blah blah blah, this is a surprise to us, yada yada yada.” All lies. I’d contacted the person who relayed the information a few weeks prior with concern about my position and she ensured me everything was good. I of course did not believe her, which is why I prepared for expulsion every evening.
With another job, in another year, I would have cried my eyes out. No one wants to just lose their job, their source of income, the thing that sustains them. But not that day. It felt like relief. I walked back to the building, dropped off my ID, and went home. Unemployment is not fun, but going to that job was not good for me either. It really did a number on my physically and I’m only just now starting to feel better. It feels as though I’m in the exact same place I was a year ago (unemployed), but now I have more clarity, a greater sense of purpose, and a plan, but less money, HA!
I’d like to think of this as a second chance. I lowkey feel like I squandered all the free time & resources I had last year when I could’ve been learning what I’m learning now and this is God saying, “girl you ain’t got nine lives, but here’s a bonus chance to get your shit together.” Things will definitely be stressful in the next few months and learning to program and look for a job will not be easy, but every day I have I to say “I can do this” to remind myself I am in fact capable.
I spent last week kind of trying to get some of my ducks in order. Paid rent, set up some doctor visits (while I can still afford insurance), and planned out my curriculum. I have nothing but time right now! As much as I’d love to enroll in General Assembly, my money is not set up that way and I just can’t in good conscience take out another educational loan, having only very recently paid off my earlier ones. So yes, posting here weekly is the goal and Scott actually encouraged all newbies to blog about discovery and basic things we’re learning. I’m looking forward to that, as I’m collecting a lot of information and organizing them in my bookmarks (a thing I’ve done for years) is tedious and I think it might be more helpful to others to store that information here.
So expect a few additional posts from me this week and next week and the week after that. 🙂