Friday, April 29, 2016

Living Proof

I am currently a full-stack, Ruby on Rails, intern. 10 whole months have passed since I started learning to program. Three years ago, I was jobless, friendless, dreamless, hopeless, and at times, even homeless.

I meandered through time and space well into my 20’s while all of the characteristics of becoming an adult completely eluded me. I could not figure out this thing called life. Growing up, I was afforded every opportunity imaginable. Classified as "Gifted" early on in grade school, the world was my oyster. The only thing standing in my way was, well, me. 

Knowing I was my own damn kryptonite, and constantly being told by everyone I came across that I had "so much potential," I continued to stumble. I didn't know how to deal. I had not been given the secret book that people get when they are born that teaches them how to live in this world.

Having managed to make it out of high school alive, I figured that I would start to get it right. Now I was an adult. Not so. Things went downhill soon after graduation. I failed out of college within the first year. I made a few attempts to go back, but I never was able to give it a real chance.

So, there I was: 25, nothing accomplished of note and no prospects. I remember sitting in my bed late at night thinking, "this is it, huh?" I was living alone in the house I grew up in. The rest of my family had moved on. This was perfectly ironic: I was unable to move on from my childhood, while everyone else had since gone. There I was, left to myself and my own thoughts.

I reached a point where I couldn't do it any more. I’d become the master of burning things to the ground. All within a few months time, I ruined a long term relationship with a woman who truly cared about me. I’d managed to get myself fired from a seemingly endless number of jobs. I lost the freedom of being legally able to drive, as well as the financial means to own a car. In a moment of desperation, I asked for help. I had absolutely zero options. So I called my mom and sister.

The details of what followed are too long to share here, but know that I have come from a dark place. Now surrounded by light, as the result of a lot of hard work, my outlook is vastly improved over those days. I started to put my life back together, piece by piece. Bit by bit. I stumbled along the way, many times, but I kept moving forward, regardless.

To say things are different now would be a gross understatement. Not only am I able to function as a member of society, but I am excelling in many areas of my life. After a couple of years finding my footing, the one thing I still hadn't found was a career. I have many interests, and I am constantly chasing knowledge, but I hadn't really focused on any one thing in order to progress enough make something of it.

Around this time last year, I sort of stumbled into computer programming and software development. It made sense, as I have always enjoyed problem solving and math. What started as a spark that peaked my interest, quickly became a raging inferno of desire and determination to become a professional software developer.

There have been countless late nights, some turning into early mornings, nose buried deep into a book or computer screen. Many sacrifices were made, with the hope that it would all pay off in the end. And it has started to pay off already. I have landed several freelance projects, getting paid to develop websites. I currently work as a developer at an internship, and have an interview coming up in a couple of weeks for a paid position.

While I am not there yet, I can taste the finish line. I say this, knowing that if I truly want master this skill, then I must keep in mind that there is no finish line. This is the kind of trade that requires constant learning and continuing education.

In many ways, the fact that I will never be "done" is what attracts me the most. It goes against everything I used to want, which is the absolute best thing for me. I am sharing this because I know now that I am not the only person that has struggled. I used to think that no one knew how I felt, no one could understand me. Now that I see how wrong I was, I hope that no one has to feel that way. It is never, ever, ever too late. 

I am living proof.