In 2014, I was a mess.
I was commuting two hours to work each day and I let myself go well beyond being burned out.
Why? Because it was comfortable, and it was all I knew. I was doing what I was “supposed” to do. It made everyone around me think that I was successful.
I resented driving 100 miles each day to do a job I could do remotely. Office politics drove me crazy, and internal changes led to good work and doing the right thing no longer being noticed or appreciated.
I didn’t believe in the service the company I worked for provided anymore. I was stagnant, bored, and no longer learning or making a difference.
Something had to change. I started paying off debt, saving money, slashing expenses, and making a plan to quit my job.
“Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck where you do not belong.” — N. R. Narayana Murthy
In my search for flexible work, I found a company called FlexJobs. It’s a service that finds legitimate jobs with any kind of work flexibility and lists them for their members. I signed up and noticed that FlexJobs had their own openings on the site.
One of the openings was something they call a “Data Entry Specialist.” Someone who edits the job listing HTML and writes job description text for search engines and site users.
The job spoke to me because it would allow me to help people who were, like me, searching for more work flexibility and fulfillment. I sent them my resume, and didn’t expect to hear anything back. Imagine my surprise when they not only got back with me, but hired me on as a freelancer, too!
I worked my corporate job during the day and FlexJobs at night until I had enough money saved up to say goodbye to the corporate job. In June of 2015, I began what I jokingly refer to as my “working sabbatical.”
With 20 extra hours of time on my hands every week, I started the process of self-discovery. Who was I? What did I want to do? What did I have to offer?
Because the economy was absolute crap when I graduated college, I never had time to answer those questions. I had taken the first job that was offered to me and made it work for 8 years.
This new time for self-discovery led to some training as a medical transcriptionist, a laughable stint as a virtual assistant, and a failed online business venture. I was starting to feel like I didn’t belong anywhere and couldn’t do anything right.
I tried to do too much at once without enough groundwork. I didn’t let myself heal, and I picked the wrong mentors. So I closed up shop and focused on my personal life. Eventually, everything lined up and I was able to realize my dream of moving to Arizona.
With the change of scenery came healing, and with the healing came clarity. I was able to look back at my past experiences objectively, without the fog of depression and the sting of resentment.
“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. “ — Maya Angelou
I could see that I was, yet again, trying to do what other people thought I should instead of listening to myself. I realized that at every job I had, I always became the “go-to” for all things technology.
I could remember doing all the things my online business mentors told me I should be doing, only to catch myself getting lost for hours in the thrill of messing with the code on my website.
I remembered helping other online business owners with the code on their sites and enjoying the hell out of it.
I remembered being 13 and spending hours upon hours creating websites on GeoCities for no other reason than enjoyment.
Who am I? What do I want to do? What do I have to offer? The answers to these questions have always been obvious. I just wasn’t ready to face them yet.
Why did I become a web developer? Because I love, and have always loved development. Because I love learning new things, solving problems, and making a difference.
Because I’m finally ready to embrace who I’ve always been instead of trying to be what others want.