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Cover image for How I turned my (professional) life upside down

How I turned my (professional) life upside down

ChiaraLyn
Frontend Developer - UX/UI Designer - Tactical Officer in the Salvation Army against JavaScript
・7 min read

Disclaimer!
[This is not a technical article, it is a simple life story 💌].

About 2 and a half years ago, at the ripe old age of 38, with a good dose of courage and perhaps even recklessness, I screwed up my old job, yet another in the field of accounting, and I decided to rush myself headlong into a one-year web development course.

Accounting has unfortunately been part of my life since I was 13, when for my sake, my father forced me without the possibility of dialogue and comparison, to attend a commercial technical institute, and so, already in 1999 I found myself with a title of study that willy-nilly would have jeopardized my entire life path.
The jobs I found were all secretarial and administrative jobs, office jobs that in southern Italy are almost all of the time underpaid and unpaid. Not having the opportunity to go elsewhere, I accepted for years to work in this field, snorting, accumulating stress, feeling defeated at the start, because everything I did had to do with a mechanics of numbers without creativity, schematic, basic if you want, but absolutely always identical to itself. I admired colleagues who were able to be passionate about that double entry system so sterile for me, yet at school I remember having loved the lessons of mathematics, statistics, but despite being excellent in all the subjects of my course of study, precisely in the main subject , accounting, I was lacking, listless, disinterested and I got very low grades, bordering on ridicule, and sometimes I did it on purpose as an opposition and resistance to that fate that I did not want at all (it had never happened to me to burst into tears in the school bathroom for the imminent hour of some subject, but with that subject yes, it happened and also often, and I cursed my dad's choices, because I knew he was condemning me to a life I didn't want).

Secr

I felt trapped in an endless nightmare. 💀 The logic behind the mechanisms of accounting slipped through my fingers, I could not grasp the dynamics of the main concepts, and I was amazed when a colleague solved an accrual or a deferral in two seconds! I, on the other hand, had to go and search on books or on the internet to figure out how to do it ... and after so many years of work, nothing, I had to go and review everything every very stale time, feeling an incapable idiot!
And then life in the office, in a place that I hated with all of myself, with colleagues who often left me behind instead of helping, in a world where a mistake meant penalties for the company that inevitably fell on me, without possibility to explain, to make people understand… All absolutely unacceptable to me.

Why

So, after an honored career as an accountant and salesman lasting about 15 years, I decided to do away with accounting, also because in the last company I worked there was a climate of terror that I had never experienced at that level, which led me to mental and physical exhaustion.
And then, with an almost eighteen-year-old son, what better opportunity to give him the best example in the world: "you can always start over and you can always make up for your mistakes and those of others!"

Saturated with a destiny that I hated, I took courage in both hands and launched myself into this world...

But immediately I felt like I was a fish out of water! Logic... this enemy. I, who have always harbored a colossal yearning for creativity, how could I once again immerse myself in an area where logic is necessary and numbers are fundamental?!

Cry

But slowly, during this one-year course we got to build the first page in HTML ... Here, I had CREATED something, things were taking shape under my eyes, a magic! Then the CSS, how wonderful! I was speechless in front of the teachers' examples and once back home I started to create my styles on simple inputs or labels, on basic layouts, and slowly things became more complex, more stimulating, then the Bootstrap discover. I loved it immediately: components ready there for me, which I could modify as I pleased without worrying about responsive! 🎨 The turn of PHP, SQL, mysterious languages, studied on books and examples on the blackboard, I enjoyed pulling out the data from the DB with this SELECT *, what a feeling... it was like being in DisneyLand, an enchanted world made of mysteries to solve, of things that do what you say, that respond to your commands, knowledge was becoming the brush with which I painted the things I had in mind in the browser...

Mind blow

Sometimes discouraged by the infinity of things to study and understand, I sought relief on Instagram or Twitter, or in Youtube videos of Indian, American, Australian developers, some like Brad Traversy, DevEd, Kyle, Adrian Twarog, Gary Simon, Maximilian Schwarzmüller (and many others) they kept me company and still do today, to help me understand... to feel less clumsy...
Everyone says don't compare you to other developers because everyone is at a different point of the way and I still feel at the starting lines... although at times I am amazed at what I can do.

When I look at my code, made during that beloved course, I smile and think: "Look at that stuff, look how unaware I was...". My life, after that course, has become diametrically opposite to the previous one. I work by writing code, I love what I do, I am passionate about it, it excites me, I like to understand new things, I feel alive and dynamic, I love Javascript and its absurd contradictions, I love CSS, I play with HTML and feel in control of it. Sometimes I believe that code, in all its forms, is art, especially the frontend side (which is what fascinated me immediately and which I chose as a path). What had always been my most brutal enemy, logical thinking, now I like it, loops make sense, conversions make sense, everything makes sense here! The code I write takes me far from where I am, I could also work at the bottom of a cave lost in the void, I would still be satisfied.

Satisfied

In the meantime, the first job has arrived, which due to the pandemic has become full-remote, a job that I love, in which I do frontend and create, create all day. I improve line by line, mistake, delete and learn. I study in the evening and with my headphones on my head I listen to the music that I love, that relaxes me and that gives me the energy to write...

So, my small desk at home, which used to be just an insignificant place in the living room, has now become my headquarters, I have slowly improved it, made it comfortable, pleasant, I am finally at ease and this freedom has skyrocketed my productivity. In the morning I can't wait to sit down to start creating, again, day after day. And when the work is finished, I start studying (Javascript is truly infinite, I don't think I'll ever finish exploring it all!), Then dinner and relaxation. But satisfied and happy (although sometimes the console.log doesn't show me what I expected!)

I have finally found my way. I finally found a home that welcomed me, because not only is the creative idea of ​​the code that fascinated me, but I found that there is a community of wonderful people who share their work, their efforts, and here, at least in my experience, in Italy, culturally we are not used to doing it, we tend to keep for ourselves what could be a source of income in some way, being careful not to give others undeserved advantages. Well, in this field it is not like that, everyone invites others to improve, everyone shares not only the code they write, but their fears, their experiences, and even the Italian developers have a sense of sharing that in other work fields... it just doesn't exist.

About Italian developers, the community on Instagram and Twitter that I started following is beautiful, they are all guys who have a sense of self-irony that makes you laugh, because every time they write something you think: "It also happened to myself!". You never feel alone, ever.

laugh

But I am too shy and I still feel too "immature" (about coding) to expose myself in these communities but I do not hide that I would really like to interact. For now I'm just a curious and silent observer.

Then more and more often I read the invitation to developers to write on blogs or expose themselves with their articles to improve themselves, to break away from their closed world and actively participate in the community, to make themselves known, the problem as I mentioned before is my immeasurable shyness and the dread of reproaches… I would never want someone to treat me badly online and make me lose hope of becoming a great frontend developer. I still feel like a child learning to walk, I'm still very afraid of losing, of failing, of looking inexperienced. All this is too precious for me to put it at the mercy of anyone, my path, for now is only at the beginning and I love my job, one day, when I will feel more confident, probably in my portfolio (to which I do not have the time to work, damn!😇) I will add the blog section and write what I learned and how I did it.

For now, I just wanted to explain that you must probably bet, always bet, without particular fears, without losing self-confidence, knowing that everything is always a 50 and 50. If that web development course I did had made me lose a year of time and my future was now in pieces, probably no one here would be reading this post of mine and I would be back in a gray office posting invoices. Instead, I won this bet and I'm here, to tell you that I love this world, an inclusive world, made of sharing and respect, of art and logic, of seriousness but also of irony, a world of colorful themes in our IDEs, a world that makes us all feel, perhaps, a little less alone and a little less resigned to the ugliness that happens to us.
(Oh!, in the end my sweet dad admitted his mistake, he realized he had clipped my wings and lost his bet... But he is happy for me and that is enough for me...😊).

Cry

I hope I have not bored you 😅 and I hope that someone can draw strength from my story. 🙋❤️❤️

Discussion (16)

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akramnarejo profile image
Akram Narejo

that's nice of you that you've shared your story to motivate and uplift the one who is new to on this path or struggling to find a freedom path.
actually I'm a 2019 computer science graduate I'm an still struggling with getting a job. currently I'm learning front-end too.

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chiaralyn profile image
ChiaraLyn Author

I am sure that with a good Linkedin profile, a well-structured portfolio with a few but exciting projects that you have carried out, you will not have much trouble being contacted by someone who is looking for programmers. Take care of your GitHub profile a lot and try to collaborate on other open source projects (which I still can't do because I'm always afraid of making unnecessary pull requests and being a hindrance or annoyance). This should increase your chances. Then on Twitter and Instagram create some nice profiles where you post "pills" of code to help newbies understand little programming concepts, you can create your slides with a graphic style that is recognizable, and talk about things you like. You will see, in no time the recognition will come if you are consistent and constant. I wish you to find your job very soon and be happy.

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Mike Talbot

Creating rather than accounting, it's a great story! The most exciting news is that the journey has only just started for you... Development is not a task to be mastered, it's a chisel to carve your own sculpture.

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chiaralyn profile image
ChiaraLyn Author

You are right! I often think that I am not prepared enough, and sometimes I am afraid of having the impostor syndrome, but I want with all my heart to continue to create and specialize, this means study and commitment, but now that I love what I do (I have the chisel in my hand) I don't feel the weight of it. Another thing that programming is helping me change is my fear of new things: I'm terrified of MVC or libraries like React, which are in high demand, but they scare me and I see them as a huge mountain to climb, but as they say ... one step at a time! Thank you so much for your words, thank you very much.

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Shubham Kumar • Edited

Lol it's similar to mine 😅, I was also into Commerce field spend my 5 years into studying then accounting job even though no one forced to do / prepare for CA , it was my decision only due to lake of awareness or I could say I wasn't able to find my interest.

But it just took me 1year to learn basics of web development & get job after that.

It all happened just because I was enjoying stuffs doing in webdev.

Earlier when I was in accounting the time in office was like it's tortoises kept waiting untill 6pm & I rush out off office 🏢 & now It's been 2 years me working as Frontend Developer 👨‍💻 & still feels like It had been just few months 😁.

Incase you are interested you can check Zero to Mastery course by Andrei Neagoie it was my starting point into learning basics to React & backend. Link: udemy.com/course/the-complete-web-...

Here's my portfolio for inspiration if you're interested: shubhamkr.me (Create in Reactjs)

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chiaralyn profile image
ChiaraLyn Author

Thank you very much Shubham, it's true, your story is very similar to mine and I'm happy that you too have found your passion (it's true, when you are in the office doing accounting, time never passes!).
Thank you so much for the course you recommended! Now I have to finish Maximilian Schwarzmüller's full Javascript course and then I'll have the solid foundation to move to React (or Vue, I'm still thinking about it).
I am scared of some more complex Javascript concepts such as, async await, promises (also because for what I do now at work these are things that actually never happen to me since for now I build or modify templates for clients and not I never have to use them, so I study them but after a week I still forget them). But by insisting I will understand them, as I have understood so many things before these.
Your portfolio is really cute! Thinking that you did it with React impressed me, because React really seems to me the monster that is in the closet as a child !! I like it very much, I will work on mine during the holidays 📌 hoping to do a good job! Thanks again for your much appreciated suggestions!

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llldar profile image
Nathaniel

Great story, hope you can be excellent in your new career.

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chiaralyn profile image
ChiaraLyn Author

Thank you so much Nathaniel for your good wishes! I really appreciate it and it motivates me even more! 😃 😃

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mmj profile image
MMJ

Lovely ❤️

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chiaralyn profile image
ChiaraLyn Author

Thank you!🤩

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Onayngo Benard

love it

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chiaralyn profile image
ChiaraLyn Author

Thank you! 😊 😊

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Tom-Yem

Lovely! You made me love and appreciate my career more.

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chiaralyn profile image
ChiaraLyn Author • Edited

😊 I am very pleased that my story has had this effect! Thank you very much and good luck for your career! 😄

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Ankit Vyas

Thanks for the inspiring story !! Making progress for the same

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chiaralyn profile image
ChiaraLyn Author

Thanks Ankit!🤩