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5 Years Later...
That time I tried to become a software engineer
In the summer of 2017, I was in New Orleans, sitting in a coffee shop called Funky Monkey, struggling through some homework for a coding bootcamp that I was determined to get into.
That weekend was my friend’s bachelorette party. All the other ladies were having fun exploring New Orleans, dancing in the streets through a raucous parade with drinks in their hands.
I didn’t mind missing out. I was determined to switch out of sales and move into software engineering.
Right when I was preparing to quit my job and transition into the coding bootcamp, something happened. I realized I was having a really great quarter at my sales job. This meant there was a huge bonus waiting for me at the end of December.
Dollar signs in my eyes, I rationalized the decision to stay for another quarter in sales. My bonus was the same amount of money as the cost of the coding bootcamp. It seemed logical, responsible even, to make sure I received that paycheck.
At the same time, I was looking for someone to confirm that I was making a good decision. Even though my friends and family were supportive, I was overly concerned about making the right decision.
I still remember sitting at a bar on the water, drinking hot toddies and eating tater tots with a guy I had met on Bumble for a first date. He mentioned he had gone through a coding bootcamp to become a developer, so I figured he was the perfect person to ask whether the investment was worth it.
“Eh,” he said, “I had a few friends do it and then decided not to become engineers.”
Not the vote of confidence I was searching for.
I started telling more people I was planning to do a coding bootcamp and met a handful of strangers who had gone through the process.
Two women in my book club had gone through a bootcamp together and seemed unenthusiastic about their current jobs.
One night I went salsa dancing, and while spinning around in circles, learned that the guy I was dancing with had gone through the coding bootcamp process.
When we stopped to grab water and chat, he only gave me a shrug when I asked him if it was worth it.
Like a lost child, I was looking for validation, but all I received was apathy.
No one could confirm that I should switch careers.
On the flip side, my good quarter in sales led to another and another.
In the end, I never ended up joining a coding bootcamp.
Every now and then, I remember this time period and I think about how silly it was that I had so much doubt. I had a long list of reasons why it could be the wrong decision. At the time, I felt I was too “late” to switch careers.
If I had committed to the transition in 2017, it’s possible I could have been a software engineer for 5 years now.
The thing is, I am happy I didn’t choose that path.
I believe if it was truly important to me, the money I was making in sales wouldn’t have swayed my decision. Other people’s opinions wouldn’t have mattered either.
The truth is, an ex boyfriend was the one who suggested I learn how to code in the first place. He sat me down a few times and taught me some basic things. After we broke up, I held onto this idea that learning how to code was a worthwhile venture.
Even though I saw the value in learning how to code, it never came easy to me and I was never excited to work on it.
I never told anyone that though. Instead, I asked anyone and everyone what I should do with my life.
My main regret is seeking validation from other people.
I let complete strangers deter me from something I was working to pursue. Heck, I asked them to deter me. I wanted so badly for someone to tell me that I was making the right decision, and nobody could have done that.
I now realize that I should have sat down, made a decision and let fate play its hand.
No experience goes to waste.
Even my experience preparing for the coding bootcamp taught me something.
I learned I never want to seek external validation for my big life decisions again.
A few years later, when I decided to quit my job and leave the corporate world, I didn’t poll a bunch of strangers for their opinions. I didn’t tell people outside my immediate family what I was planning. I knew I had a dream to work on more creative projects, and I made the decision to take the leap.
I don’t like to look back and regret anything. Life only moves forward.
However, knowing what I know now, I’ve changed how I make decisions in my life.
These days, I look to the future and try to live my life in a way that in a few years, I don’t look back and think, what if I started 5 years ago?
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