Not Old (Yet), Not Young

I’m 28. Maybe that isn’t old, but it certainly isn’t young either. Really, I stopped being honest about my age offline after I turned 26.

I talked a little before about teaching myself coding. The good news is there are a lot of community spaces for learners and newbies. The discouraging news is I find myself very outmatched in age. It seems in so many, if not all, of these spaces, everyone started coding at the age I was still carrying around a teddy bear.

Yes, yes, I know. “You’re never too old.” But figures of speech are just that. Figures of speech. I can never stop being reminded I wasted my youthful years doing… whatever I was doing that is wildly insignificant now. If God is real, when I die, I will ask why he didn’t give me better intuition as a small child. Seriously, why did I miss out on the intuition to build a necessary skill? Probably because I was stupid and wanted to build blocks, and adults let me so I would shut up and stop crying. *sigh*

Eh. Maybe that’s harsh (probably not), but if I had a child, I would absolutely get them started on coding and programming at as early an age as possible so they avoid this problem. Even if they grew to not want a career related to IT, they’d have a skill they can fall back on. That’s the one thing I miss about not having a child. I won’t have the pleasure of watching my child have a better and brighter future than I do. Granted, I’m fantasizing, but I know I do that a lot. I’m beginning to understand why some parents live through their kids. It’s tough to admit you don’t have the capacity/capability to reach your dreams, and your kid has better chances than you via youth. That’s a terrible thing to do to a kid, but I think I understand it.

Truthfully, I don’t think I am capable of learning because coding is such a humongous field, and IT never stops evolving. There will always be things to catch up on, so I have no idea at what point I could consider myself employable, if that point can arrive. Supposedly, it’s not about memorization, but I want to see how that holds up in an actual job. I feel like it doesn’t. But I’ve also known for a long time I’m not good at anything, so why am I talking like this is surprising? It’s not, but you get my drift. I mean, I’m good at finishing coursework, but so are kindergartners, so who cares? I want a skill most tiny children don’t have, not one most do.

Well, this quickly delved into a post of self-loathing. But it’s really honesty and trying to humor myself. I remember being asked what’s unique about me, and I answered I don’t know because I don’t know. Professionally, there is nothing unique about me. I work in a warehouse, I worked in retail, and I finished coursework. By the way, roughly 39% of the US population has a bachelor’s (not associate’s, which is what mine will be) degree, and it can still not be enough to qualify for anything. It really is little more than a piece of paper to bypass filters. Part of me feels like I’m getting it solely to prove I’m not a total idiot (of course, the two are not mutually exclusive).

Do I have any positivity to add to this post? I really don’t. I’m painfully aware my thirtieth birthday is coming sooner than I would like, and I’m simply glad there is no upcoming high school reunion.

Well, I can always achieve my dreams through fictitious means. And really, my only dream was financial stability. I didn’t even reach for the sky and I still fell flat. Ouch.

Call back: “What Do You Want To Be?”

When you grow up?

At the not young age of twenty-eight, I finally have the answer: a UI designer and front-end developer. I can’t say I’m surprised.

The problem is technology is very difficult to break into, especially without a degree in computer science. It’s not impossible, but so much harder. Add design on top of it, which is not exactly notorious for being an in-demand skill, and enough said. Coding itself is endless learning, and I can’t see the day I’m ready to make a project, let alone have a job, arriving in the near or far future. Doesn’t mean I won’t try, but like my previous attempts at any job outside of warehouse and customer service so far, it’ll likely prove fruitless. All my plans for the future are made with my current wage because it’s not a good idea to bet on an income you don’t have. And no, saying “I will have X” doesn’t make it happen. I would have an unbroken family, and be an only child, if that were the case.

Coding isn’t necessary to be a UI designer, but it is necessary to be a front-end developer. I have no interest in back-end or being full-stack, so I don’t care about that. Interesting thing about college graphic design programs is most require a portfolio, which is weird to me. If you can make a portfolio, a graphic design program is likely little more than a formality. I’m attending college because I don’t have the skills and am a poor self-learner. Speaking of which, I’m envious of people who can give themselves college-esque structure. Student debt is never a concern for anyone who can learn outside of academics. Yes, I can learn outside of it. School just does it better than I can. In short, I either devote more time or more money, and the latter has a specific number, so I prefer that. Easier to network when you pay for it too. Not a guarantee, but easier.

I don’t even have my certificate from my trade school anymore. I lost it at some point, but considering how the jobs from that turned out, it’s not something I want on my resume anyway. It’s still embarrassing to be ten years out of high school and have nothing to show for it, but it’s not like there’s a reunion, so who needs to know? In truth, I’ll probably be in a warehouse for the rest of my life, but it’s still better than retail, which is a much worse fate. No one is paid enough for that nonsense.

Sometimes, I feel I want degrees and courses only because I don’t know how else to move on. As I said, I am not a good self-teacher, so those are proof I’m capable of something. Granted, bachelor’s degrees are said to be the new high school diploma, and I’m getting an associate’s, so I’m still not on par. But that’s my life in a nutshell from birth, so what else is new?

Don’t Just “Learn To Code”

It seems “learn to code” is the replacement for “get a job”.

Yes, I know its origins, but as of late, it’s become a response to almost anyone who complains about their current job and options (or lack of), especially during 2020.

Here’s the problem: coding sucks.

At least, if it’s only a means to an end.

It’s a lot more than merely “learn to code”. A mere few months of playing on isn’t enough. Devoting a single hour every day isn’t enough. Heck, completing every single lesson on the website isn’t enough (you have dozens more websites, hundreds of books, and thousands of videos to go!).

Being self-taught and making that profitable will require years and thousands of hours.

Frankly, that’s patience I do not have. Same reason I despise gen ed courses from community college.

I don’t believe so much as basic coding is a necessity if you don’t plan to do some kind of work with it. I still haven’t met anyone who used algebra beyond high school if their field didn’t require it.

Code because you’re genuinely interested, because you’re in love with it, because you want a career out of it. Please don’t throw yourself into a humongous, frustrating world because a random person on Reddit told you.

I made this mistake when I attended community college for the first time. I never wanted to attend right after high school anyway, but since my family wouldn’t shut up, I picked a degree that was supposed to be lucrative.

I dropped by the next semester. As did several of my friends who were pressured by their families into college.

I toy around with coding when I am bored and Pokémon has stopped amusing me. Even then, I do it for an hour at most. The truth is I have no desire to stare at a screen for 8 – 10 hours a day. Really, I already do that, but at least it’s not every second of my shift.

Sure, you could argue most people don’t love their jobs (I certainly don’t!), but most people don’t commit years of their life to studying to get a job they hate. Some do, but certainly not most.

If someone believes they would like coding and wants to try, I’d absolutely encourage them. But if they discover they don’t like it – as I did – that’s okay. “Everyone can code” has the same context as “everyone can hold a pencil and scribble something”. I can use extremely basic HTML. That’s coding. That’s all I’ll ever be able to do, and some people can’t do that much (my boyfriend, for example, thinks the HTML to make stylized text like bold and underline looks complicated, despite I typed it right in front of him; he can’t comprehend it).

Learn to code… if you want to.

Why I No Longer Want A Career

Short answer: I have a work ethic.

Much longer answer: I was fired from a job, not for being incompetent or breaking the law or violating their policy, but for… not making friends. I was never unfriendly or unkind or cold to anyone, but the experienced hires decided I was too “weird”, I didn’t “fit in” with them, and since they weren’t all my new BFFs within the four days I worked, I was let go. Despite the numerous times this job was emphasized as being “life and death” (a description I now know is severely exaggerated), my inability to create instant lifelong friendships and preference to prioritize learning how to do my job competently was deemed grounds for letting me go.

As a child, I wanted to become a veterinarian because I loved animals. I learned as a teenager an adoration of animals is far from enough to consider that career. This is similar. I would say as a teenager I wanted a career, and though I never cared for being part of the “big wigs”, I wanted to be high above entry-level with a long resume of worthwhile skills and a job that allowed to never again worry about money.

What have I learned now as an adult? The job is irrelevant. It’s the management I need to be most concerned with. After nearly three years in retail, and poor management in three different industries (customer service, IT, and security), and managers who are all too obviously on a power play (my boyfriend recently told me of how he was yelled at for something he didn’t do, and yelled at again when he proved he wasn’t at fault; I have too many similar experiences), I have decided I want absolutely nothing to do with a career of any kind.

I want a job that pays well, has good management, has benefits, has a consistent schedule, and has a minimum of two days off. That’s it.

It doesn’t need to be a career. I don’t want it to be a career. If this is what I must deal with – if the being part of the “in crowd” is more important doing your job well and correctly, especially in the early days – I’m content to have an ordinary, nothing special job. Similarly, this is also why even if I had the needed personality for retail, I’d utterly refuse to enter management. I do not ever want to become like the management I’ve dealt with. Never do I want to believe it’s okay to behave aggressively toward those hierarchically beneath me, never do I want to yell at someone solely because I can and allow authoritative power to blind me to treating others fairly, and I absolutely do not want to decide someone’s work ethic is a bad quality (lack of work ethic is bad). I am no saint, nor will I ever be, but I can avoid becoming what I hate and I fear any step into management would force me against my morals. I will not compromise those beliefs for anything.

My new dream is to live with my boyfriend in a comfortable and spacious apartment, and to be home with him as much as possible. Because of all the stress I’ve dealt with, and all the needless experiences I have in my memory I can never burn, my relationship with him is one of the few experiences that consistently proves to be worth fighting for. It seems a career requires me to sacrifice kindness, fairness, and humility, and I am not willing to do that. I suppose there is a reason for the expression “money is the root of all evil”, and it’s very evident, but though I am not flawless, I will not allow a career to change who I am or change me into someone I hate.

My Future Is Their Future

For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and yesterday, I came to a realization (I seem to do that a lot). Everything I’m doing for my future is not really for me. It’s for my family.

I didn’t want to attend college just yet. They pressured me to do it. I wanted to work for a while first. While I want a job/career related to technology, I took IT merely because it’s said to be one of the highest-paying jobs out there. While I want to be financially secure and not struggling paycheck to paycheck, I don’t care about making more money than everyone else. I don’t need a high-flying career. In fact, I want to be self-employed.

The belief that I need to be making the most money came from my family’s pressure. As long as I can live comfortably and fully support myself, I’m fine with however much I make.

I’m not ruling out college entirely, but I did go for the wrong reasons. I know not everything is fun and games and I don’t expect it to be, but I feel miserable and having my family’s approval isn’t worth that. If this is supposed to be my future, why am I doing nothing for myself and everything for them?

I don’t regret going entirely because I have gotten some good things out of it and if nothing else, I’ve learned I do not have the aptitude for anything with a boatload of science or math, or the patience to sit and be spoon-fed information as if I’m still in high school. Now, I’m trying to consider every option I really do have and see past the path that’s been painted out for me.

What I like most is design and while I wouldn’t want hand-drawing to be more than a hobby, I’d be fine with creating and designing websites being more than one. Maybe there’s a job or career for that. It’ll never be as lucrative as something like IT, but as I said, I don’t care about making more money than everybody else. No amount of money is worth is being miserable.

But I think, above all, I need to stop giving in to pressure. How long is it going to take me to learn that lesson?