EDIT: ah yes, typo in the status codes. It originally said 401 which is unauthorized, which is of course 406 (Not Acceptable) so I’ve correctly edited it to 410 which is Gone. I feel like a total 418 (I’m a teapot) for getting the bits wrong. To be fair, I was only two bits off 😀
Content warning- if you prefer people to maintain a picture perfect this post might not be for you. Here is the long version of why I did a 410, then a 308 and then getting back to 200. This post is divided in HTTP status codes instead of the months like I did in the previous post about my journey from dietitian to programmer.
It all started with a 507 during my second year of programming.
507 Insufficient Storage
My blog post about my first year of programming spread like fire in Australia- it spread fast and umanagable, gaining a lot of media attention. The pressure was on. I felt like I had to keep delivering. And during the second year I did. I did 54 talks at conferences and user groups, was awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award, became a Pluralsight author and started authoring on my first book with a publishing company. I let my world spin 100 miles and hour, running as fast I could keeping up with the pace. Friends, family and strangers warned me, but I kept running feeling pressured to keep up the pace and meeting expectations. I never made time for managing life, and managing me in a new situation. Because life happens, and you can’t control it. You can’t stop it, plan it, or pause it. There was a separation, then a divorce (we were two very good friends growing apart for a very long time), there was illness, there was a move, there was a job, and then there was just me- not giving myself time to deal with change. I had to deliver, I had keep the story going. The developer that went from 1 to 100 in a short amount of time. The story of the second year ended with a 507. I simply depleted my energy storage, but I kept it a secret, implemented a facade thinking that one day I would find the time to refactor the broken APIs. I just needed more time. My mind and body 507’ed on me, but I ignored it.
The third year started with even more change. I was offered my dream job at an American company called IdentityMine, so i quit my job at Evry, packed my bags and prepared to move to Seattle.
As I waited for the visa to go through, never even thinking that I could even possibly be declined, a family member got really sick and the whole family core was struggling. I had to be prepared to drop everything and go home at any moment, all while realizing that I would never get my visa as the applications were declined one by one and suddenly finding myself without a job with my suitcases packed.
It was the worst possible time, not just for me- but also for my family. I didn’t, couldn’t, didn’t want to, add more concern. I had to be perfect, I had to be that success story, meet expectations, deliver. Be strong. Ignore the 507.
So I made a video, I would consider any job anywhere in the world. I didn’t want to give up on my dream, and I didn’t want to feel like a failure.
I kept coding 24/7, kept pushing a maxed out capacity, all while ensuring my friends and family that I was doing fine. I think I was trying to convince myself more than anybody else, I wanted it to be true. I wanted to be a 200 return.
But oh boy was I in for one hell of a year.
I started interviewing, believe it or not my first techincal interviews as a programmer. I felt confident, after all- I do know how to code, don’t I? I did several interviews, and failed horribly. Altough I am the first to ask to grab the keyboard and try something new, when in an interview setting I turn into a horribly nervous person, I visible shake, I can’t put words together, and my coding the same.
“You don’t hold the level we expect for this position”
I felt rejected.
I felt like a failure.
I felt like I had no control.
I didn’t want my family to have to worry about me
I remember standing on the stage and feeling like a fraud. But I kept pushing, and kept hiding. I interviewed in Shanghai for a company while I was there and was close to considering, but couldn’t be that far away from my family. My family needed me, but I felt like I had so little to give, nonetheless I squeezed out the little I had in me and went home putting on my usual happy face altough I had spent days in a hotel in China staring at the ceiling feeling absolutetly worthless and that all the time I had put into learning programming had been wasted and that honestly my family and friends would be better without me and my failures in their life. It was probably around this time I lost my appetite as well, and kept getting migraine attacks and nausea.
In June things changed, I found a fantastic company to work for just across the pond from Sweden, Compare the Market. There was no official interview, they went on merits and cultural fit and I immediatly packed my bags, threw away 2/3 of my belongings and moved to UK after delivering a keynote in Australia. I was so tired, so exhausted, but had said yes to speak as my sister lives in that city and I wanted to see her. I was however surprised that she decided to leave Australia on the same day of my arrival. I checked into the hostel and thought, “Iris, you don’t have the capacity for this right now,- but pull your shit together and do it. Do it well”. Exhausted after another multi-timezone travel I returned to Sweden with just a few days to pack up my apartment and move to UK.
I was in for a shock. Turns out the the town I had moved to was a tiny place with high criminal activity and unemployment. And I had rented a house in the ghetto, where I certainly wasn’t very welcome. On my second week I had to go to the police station and report three separate incidents. I couldn’t do any of the things I had done before, dancing, stand up comedy, user groups every evening and hang out at cafes until 1 AM in the morning. I stopped leaving the house, unless it was for work.
I stayed at CTM for a month. The team was great, tech awesome, and fantastic team lead and boss. However, being in finance the company had a very strong corporate culture and I kept fucking up. My language was wrong, my clothes were wrong, I was wrong. I simply didn’t fit in. And then I would go home to a prison. I lost it. I lost myself. And I quit and had to repay the relocation money on the day. I was stuck with a lease on a house in a place I didn’t want to be, with a rather empty bank account, with a 507, not knowing what to do next.
I started my own company (a continuation of the one I had in Sweden) and took on small projects. A year before me and two friends had planned a trip to Japan for 3 weeks, everything was already paid for so I went. During the trip I kept interviewing, and coding morning and night. I just didn’t want to give up. On my way back I did a conference tour with Microsoft TechDay , delivering two sessions a day and a keynote demo in three different countries. At the end of it I was to sick to travel home and had to book a new ticket home two days later as I was bed ridden in Riga and reluctant to see a doctor. I didn’t tell anybody about me being sick, I just shut of my phones and laptops and laid in the dark. I was worried. I was loosing weight, struggeled to eat, and kept having migraines. But I pushed through.
Back in UK I did more interviews, but failed again. I was physically weak as I was only eating tiny amounts, only one meal a day, and it certainly didn’t help my nerves. I started withdrawing from social media and other communiation. Mostly because I felt ashamed. Like I had let people down. I felt such a strong pressure to do great. People had cheered me on, helped me, recommended me, but I just couldn’t deliver. And I also felt like I had let my family down.
After the US trip I got on the scale and realized my petite frame barely weighed 105 pounds. I shamefully went to my parents in Norway and admitted everything. All my failures. How I couldn’t manage the imaginative pressure in my head. And I slept, I slept for 15 hours at the time.
“Have you ever wished you could just stop the world? ” I asked my mumone day I got out of bed “Like pushing a giant stop button, and have the world come to a halt. Complete silence. You can breathe. You can take some time to think.” She nodded “Take some time while you are here to do just that”.
The next day I closed my Facebook account and let my dear friends and followers on Twitter know that I would 410. I closed Skype, email, hangout and all outside world communication. It was my way of pushing that giant stop button and give myself some time to reflect on the year that had passed, and the year to come. 507 had become 410.
308 Permanent Redirect
It’s amazing how much thinking you can get done when you completly disconnect from the outside world. I thought about my last two years, what I wished I had done differently, honestly wondering if programming was for me. Maybe it was too late. Maybe you can’t join the game late in life like I had done. I had a return home, but extended my stay. I wasn’t ready to push play. I kept thinking, and I kept coding. It was my dad that commented on that after we had watched Silicon Valley together while I was reverse engineering the cash register systems used at the club since we were having performance problems the company refused to fix. The irony was, all while I was reflecting on wether or not I could be a programmer I had kept coding for all the hours I was awake. It is who I am, I love the logic, the late nights with just the sound of me and my mechanical keyboard tapping along- getting lost in time and space. Or the user groups/conferences where I truly feel like I am among people that understand the fascination and the addiction. It’s where I’ve met some of the most genuine, smart, caring and funny people I’ve ever met. I am not ready to let go, I can’t let go. I truly feel like it is where I belong. But I need to slow down, and ignore the pressure I feel like I have on me. I don’t need to impress, I just need to code.
I don’t know how you get to 200. I know how to in code, but not in life. Life isn’t binary numbers and it doesn’t have conditional statements, and it’s full of uncaught exceptions, memory leaks and crappy APIs.
I’m still on a 308. But I guess that is where the fourth year comes in.
Right now I am doing consultant work with my company, always looking for an awesome team or project to join be that as a consultant or employed.
I can’t promise perfect, I dress weird, I don’t always say the right things, I get nervous around large groups of people or pressured situations, I am somewhat awkward and sometimes insecure, and I can’t play pretend. Programming is my passion, and I’ve come to the realization that I simply cannot stop programming. My 200 will be when I work with likeminded people. Then I will be OK.
During my ‘little’ break I kept coding, so I have so much to share with you all, and get input from you on. Here is a list of the upcoming posts waiting to be cleaned up and published:
- Searching, exporting and exporting PSD files with node (a Edge.JS implementation)
- An introduction to Purescript and setting up the environment on a Windows machine
- Using layout information from Optical Character Recognition result (Windows Runtime)
- Carbon X1 Fixes: internal speakers audio problems, smart keys disabled, intermittent touch problems
- Microsft Translation Services with Optical Character Recognition
- Adding contacts in Universal Windows Store Apps
- Universal Windows Store Apps Error: This app does not support the contract specified or is not installed