Bye Bye, Java

After a long conversation with ChatGPT (yes, I talk to an AI about my problems; it’s nuanced and objective while being supportive and kind; in other words, it doesn’t judge me!), I made the decision to temporarily give up studying Java entirely. The truth is at this point, I’m more excited about completing my boot camp than getting into my job’s software development program. That’s not to say I no longer intend to try, but the current economy has affected the program so severely, it’s questionable if it’s still worth the investment of time for a chance of admission. At my request, Chat laid out a list of priorities for me, and I must admit it’s favorable.

  1. Take care of your mental and emotional health: Trauma can have long-lasting effects on a person’s mental and emotional well-being. It’s essential to prioritize self-care, including therapy, meditation, exercise, or anything else that helps you manage your mental health.
  2. Focus on your current interests: Given your current interest in front-end development, I suggest you concentrate on learning JavaScript, React, and other front-end technologies. These skills will help you achieve your short-term goal of becoming a front-end developer and help you create more complex web projects.
  3. Prepare for the technical assessment: The technical assessment is due on May 1st, and you have ample time to prepare for it. While you don’t need to rush, setting aside some time every week to study Java and practice coding problems can help you feel more confident and prepared when the time comes.
  4. Consider applying for the training program: If the training program still interests you, I recommend applying to it. However, it’s essential to keep in mind that the program is not the only path to a successful career in front-end development, and there are other opportunities out there.
  5. Explore other areas of interest: You mentioned an interest in mobile app development, which is something you could explore in the future. However, it’s essential to focus on one thing at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed or feeling stuck.

I love Chat placed self-care at the top of the list. In any case, I’m more interested in building projects and learning about JavaScript and its frameworks (React, Angular, Vue, and Typescript seem to be the most popular ones) than Java simply because, as I said in my last post about priorities, I studied Java solely for the sake of my job’s program. I may use Java someday, but as of now, it’s not something of interest to me. A big part of my conversation with Chat was the “sunk cost fallacy” – the unwillingness to give up something because of the investment already made. The thing is Chat never told me what I should do (unless I asked it to), but gave understanding in addition to a balanced opinion.

My primary goals now are improving my skill and comprehension of JavaScript, and to begin learning React. I picked React because it’s seemingly the most popular of the frameworks, but I want to eventually be able to work with all of them.

A Self-Imposed Deadline

I have a new goal: Become debt-free by 40.

Paying off my debts is already a goal, but that’s focused on my credit card debts. I want to have zero debt whatsoever. No, I don’t care about “leveraging”. Owing money in no way makes me feel good. It really serves only to give me anxiety.

Credit cards: $5,210

Community college: $3,629.10

Student loans: $27,800

Private loans: $10,392.40

Total debt: $47,031.50

So, altogether, I am in $47,031.50 worth of debt at this moment. My 28th birthday is in next month, which means I am giving myself twelve years to pay down all of this debt without accruing more.

($47,031.50 / 12 years = $3919.30 per year) / 12 months =$326.61 per month.

I’ll round it up to $330. I must give a minimum of $330 per month to my debts to be debt-free by age forty. In twelve years, that would total $47,520. Not accounting for interest.

Why did I choose age forty? Because I feel like if I don’t have my life together by that age, there is no hope for my life in any capacity. I am embarrassed to not have my life figured out when I’m nearly pushing thirty. It took me too long to figure out what I want to do as a job. It’s not a good look to have the life of a 20-year-old (school, work, living at home) while everyone else your age, older, and younger is getting married, has kids, new houses and cars, travels, and vacations. And no, that’s not an exaggeration. I’m the only one of my friends who will have completed college, and while it is something I want, it really feels like it pales in comparison because they’re in the place someone around my age is expected to be. At thirty, you’re expected to have the career, the marriage, the kid(s), the car, the house, and the trips. Not all of them have all of that, but all of them have at least one. So, what the heck am I doing? Don’t answer that.

I’m not “young and fresh” anymore. I’m not the future. I’m not a 16-year-old who everyone looks at and thinks of having a bright future ahead. I don’t have all the time in the world. On the contrary, I’m running out of it. If I wanted kids, I have no idea where I would fit them in. I couldn’t imagine where I would fit them in if I went on the standard path, so I can’t imagine how I would fit them in on the unusual path I’m on.

That said, I’ve thought about that a lot, so I want to map it out.

Ages 14 to 18 would be high school.

Ages 18 to 22 would be college.

Work right out of college, so career at 22 (I know that doesn’t always happen, but it’s presumed).

I don’t know when marriage would happen, but I wouldn’t want to marry while in college. No idea when I would meet someone, but I met my boyfriend a few months before my 21st birthday. I would want to wait at least four years before marrying (yes, I know the length of time is irrelevant; it’s a comfort thing), so let’s say 25.

Married at 25, and working for three years. I highly doubt three years is enough to consider yourself “established”. At 30, I would have eight years in the field if I didn’t stop working, but it goes without saying having even one child would interrupt that. I also wouldn’t want to have a child right after getting married. Maybe I wouldn’t wait five years, but I must admit I’m unsure how I’d plan that.

Come to think of it, no one ever says what to do after college. Go to college to get a job. After that, what do you do?

But my point stands, so I repeat: if I couldn’t figure out how to fit a child into my life when I’m doing things right, I have no clue how I’d do it when I am doing everything wrong.

Of course, with 40 being 22 years since adulthood, being debt-free and having a college degree is very little to claim for one’s self. My friends with kids will be halfway done with child-rearing by then, and will no doubt have many more accomplishments (and that of their kids) to their names. And I know it sounds weird to talk about all of this since, as I said, I don’t want kids. But I do occasionally wonder if I’m supposed to want them. The feeling didn’t really happen until one of my friends became a parent, and I sincerely like kids, so it’s not a hate thing. Of course, that would mean I want to be a parent to fit in, not because I want to be a parent, which is a terrible reason to take that plunge.

I also grew up in a family that cared excessively about their image to strangers, absolutely chastised me (and that’s putting it mildly) for not caring, simultaneously sheltered and abused me, and I faced bullying throughout my all of my K – 12 school years. So, that’s probably also influencing my thoughts.

Hopefully, this degree will lead to a job where I make enough money to afford therapy.

Disconnected

I want to emphasize I am not perfect, I never claimed to be, and I know I never will be.

However, I find the older I get and the more I learn about my family, the more disconnected I feel from them. This is especially true of my father. It amazes me how I had the best relationship with him as a kid, but as an adult, it’s the polar opposite. I suppose that’s the curse of losing one’s innocence.

The biggest barrier is my attempts to learn financial responsibility. It really astounds me no one – absolutely no one – in my (immediate) family has any clue about finances, and at this point, it’s now a case of being unable to teach an old dog new tricks. My biggest mistakes – attending college when I wasn’t ready and financing my first car with a co-signer – came out of pressure, but the upside is those mistakes made it abundantly clear my family, no matter how much I love them, are not the people to go to for life advice. Regarding cars particularly, knowing about them does not correlate with having any financial sense.

For the record, I am aware financing a car can be a good decision. However, my father makes barely more money than me (I bring in roughly $2K a month), but his car payment plus insurance nearly equals my household’s rent. And in all the years he had to save money with his late girlfriend paying most of their household expenses (including rent), he never did. Simultaneously, my dad complains constantly he hates living with his dad. Find the problem.

I taught myself planning, budgeting, and saving, and as of late, I’m learning about investing, which a good friend got me started on. Am I perfect? Absolutely not. But I reached the point I’m able to plan out a month’s worth of expenses, and move them around as needed. Though I have a bad habit of frivolous spending I’m trying to kick, I stick to my budget, including savings, and I don’t sacrifice bills for pleasure. The bit of money I spend frivolously is the remainder after all my week’s expenses are paid.

It’s indeed strange to be berated for trying to be responsible, and I feel the more I try to pull myself together and recover from my mistakes, the more distant I grow from my family. It’s truly not something I like, but have no clue how to fix. How do you re-connect with people you can’t talk to, you can’t look up to, you can’t trust with advice? I don’t mean my personal goals. I can’t talk to them about the future, about finance, about feelings, about anything. How do I re-connect without feeling like I’m making myself small?

If you know, please teach me.

Goodbye, Mi Amiga

Yesterday, my favorite manager – and my friend – told me this would be her final week.

I knew she would quit eventually because she previously mentioned her intentions to return to school. But to my surprise, that’s not why she’s quitting. Her reason is one that surprised me.

She’s tired of the store manager.

The surprise isn’t so much the reason itself as it is being the one she’s leaving. She is genuinely one of the kindest and most cheerful souls I’ve met in my life, and she’s the last person to complain about anything. Even when she does complain, she smiles through it, like she’s trying to brush it off. I knew of her frustrations, but I didn’t know she felt that badly.

I admitted to her I considered returning to being part-time for the seasonal period and she vehemently advised me to remain on-call and ask periodically if I need more work. She worked at this store for four years – since the day it opened – and it was her first job while the manager that eventually pushed her over the edge has been there for less than a year. Were there ever a clear example for the expression of people quitting bosses instead of jobs, this would be it.

I wished her well in life, and I know wherever her next job is, she will be excellent, and hopefully, with better management. While I am sad about her leaving, she unintentionally taught me a lesson in telling me so: never waste your time.

Most people cannot quit without a back-up plan, including myself, and after my experiences this past summer, I’ve been working three jobs out of fear of being fired. However, one has been nothing but trouble since the start due to payroll (they still haven’t paid me for the first day I worked, despite I brought it to their attention no less than four times and was told the problem was fixed, and it’s possible they no longer have the record of the day), lack of breaks during shifts as long as nearly twelve hours, smoking, and ultimately being stranded due to the travel required. I’m not the only one with those struggles at the job. The long-term employees have also expressed them.

The other job is my retail job, which I’ve wanted to quit for over a year due to the store essentially being a sinking ship and paying the least of any job I’ve had, but kept because I have history there, they’ve never screwed up my paycheck, and I genuinely love my co-workers.

The problem is juggling three jobs makes it hard to commit to the one I care about most. However, I’ve been at that job for only 39 days, which is not long enough to fully commit to it and quit the other jobs. While I have no reason to believe I’ll be fired, I thought the same with the two jobs I had in June, and that obviously turned out poorly (one involved a manager attempting to intimidate me due to being nearly twice my size and required getting a police officer involved to retrieve my stuff; the other dismissed me for not being social enough and worrying more about learning the job properly; my school faulted me for both, and I’ve since disassociated with them as a result). I’m too afraid to risk having a false of security again, and want to stick with the newer jobs for at least a year. But I also do not want to waste my time like my friend feels she wasted hers (“four years down the drain”), nor do I want to burn the history I have with my retail job. Even she advised me to always have a back-up plan.

Granted, the job I want to commit to is nothing like the jobs I was fired from, namely in that you get fired if you don’t do your job and you don’t spend the majority of your shift (think seven out of nine hours) doing literally nothing while being expected to pretend you have work to do. However, I feel that’s not sufficient reason to believe I’m safe. For all I know, they could decide they dislike how I style my hair and fire me for that (yes, people do get fired solely because a boss dislikes a trait or feature about them; US laws do not protect against that if it isn’t a protected class and most states are at-will, so employees can be fired at any time for any reason that isn’t illegal in written law; it’s one of the reasons I never want to join management, no matter how long I work somewhere, as that’s a level of coldness that’d keep me awake at night).

I don’t know where my friend will go. I don’t know where I will go. But wherever we do go, I hope there’s a bright future for both of us in the places we want to be in our lives.

“People leave managers, not companies” – Marcus Buckingham

Aiming For The New Year

This post was inspired by a blogger/writer I follow. I was going to skip over it, but I figured it can’t hurt. Can always try, right?

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions years ago because I never followed them. In fact, I only ever made them for school assignments and I usually faked them because I had none in mind. I’m the same way with goals. I rarely reach them, though I have some better luck with goals than with New Year’s resolutions. I used to have a “to-do list” page, which I got rid of because I eventually stopped caring about most of what was on there.

The above said, I would be lying if I claimed to have no goals for this year. However, the big goals are luck-based and dependent on whether I graduate school and find a job in the field I’ve been studying. I feel it’s pointless to bother writing them out since, based on my life’s history so far, the most basic goals get deterred somehow. To name some: I graduated high school a year late (forced to transfer), didn’t return to college until age 24 (had to wait until I could claim independence for FAFSA), didn’t get my first job until 22 when I wanted one at 16 (family did not allow me to work during high school), and more I just don’t want to remember right now. Point is life has never gone as planned for me (if it had, I would’ve grown up in my hometown instead of moving more than literally a dozen times), so I have no reason to trust it will now.

Heck, the new year itself didn’t start off well. I mistakenly broke my phone yesterday, the first day of the new year, and today, my train to school was cancelled, meaning I had to pay $19 to take a Lyft ride to be on time. If that’s my start to the new year, should I bother with goals under the assumption anything will go as planned? Truthfully, I’m likely an idiot if I think so. Actually, I’m an idiot even if I don’t. And I don’t.

The writer of the post I linked talks about his goals specifically for 2019 rather than goals that can span over more than one year. So, I’ll go with that. That’s the idea with most of my goals anyway. I don’t have much confidence I’ll keep them, but I’ve always found writing what’s on my mind to be cathartic. Plus, maybe with my work hours cut down, things will be somewhat easier.

  • Make this blog more active. In my defense, the reason this blog is slow is I struggle to think of topics to write. A “slice of life” blog is a very open subject, but “wake up, go to school, go to work, study, sleep, repeat” isn’t an interesting topic for repetition. I used to make up for this by having days dedicated to certain ideas, but I lost track and eventually stopped bothering to keep up with them. I’m happy this blog is still alive, and I’d rather have slow years than nothing at all, but I’d still prefer an active blog. I don’t have a schedule worked out yet, but I’ll see what comes to mind later on.
  • Climb my way out of credit debt. Half of this is school costs and the other half is my fault. Retail therapy is real! The stress over the holiday retail craze resulted in me developing a shopping addiction. I can do this without getting a job in the field I’m studying, but that’ll make it much easier.
  • Get my driver’s license. For those wondering why I’m almost 25 and don’t have my license, I never cared because neither my family nor I could ever afford a car. Taking public transportation doesn’t bother me (when it works! Screw you, NJ Transit!) because it’s how I grew up, so I’m accustomed to it. But when your home, your school, and your job are in three different cities, it adds up quickly. Granted, the costs are probably ultimately still cheaper than a car, but at least I won’t have to count on someone else’s car if I’m running late (thank you, Lyft!).
  • Keep up with medical appointments. Oh, boy! Well, I started with this one last year, but only with the dentist and optician. I need to visit the regular doctor and I need to go to Planned Parenthood. Especially PP since my relationship with my boyfriend is only progressing further. Right now, however, I just want my teeth fixed!
  • Cool my temper. Like mother, like daughter. My temper needs to go on ice! I’ve been working on this one for a few years, but 2018 pushed me to the limit and undid my work. Granted, the things I explode over are usually justified (the worst was a case of unfair/unkind treatment by one of my bosses, though we made up over that because his friend got us together to talk about it), but exploding is tiring! My head hurts! That said, watching someone else drop F-bombs is hilarious.

I have more than that, but for 2019, I will stop here. I won’t post the rest because those are the luck-based ones, and it’s possible they won’t be accomplished within 2019. If they’re not luck-based, they’re ones I’m almost guaranteed to eventually lose interest in, so I won’t bother writing them.

I can’t say I’m optimistic, but let’s see what, if anything, worthwhile happens this year.