The Tale of the Recovering Hustler

— 5 minute read

It's been almost 4 years of trying to break into tech. After finishing up a freelance project, I am well on my way to a full-time position. Let me give you a sense of how this has all gone.

Working in a hospital while trying to break into tech has been a wild and stress-filled adventure.

I would see people who have started their journey into coding later than me and land jobs at large companies. I asked myself: “Well, how can I possibly work all the time while working full time, raise my family, AND try to switch careers?!”.

There's a lot of advice out there to work all the time and your goals will happen. It seems impossible, but this is where I got sucked into “Hustle Porn”.

The Hidden Lie of Hustling permalink

Some of the things I have been told were:

  • If you only spend an hour a day learning to code, you are better off not wasting your time
  • You just have to quit your day job and learn full time.
  • Work hard at learning, and you’ll get a job within 3 months.
  • Just move to a big city, and you will get a better chance at a job.

Being told you aren’t working hard enough feels like a huge slap in the face, mostly because if I told you everything my family has dealt with this past couple years, you’d be stunned. This has been something I have learned to deal with and not try to take it personally.

To not touch on Bias would also be a big swing and miss. I am a white male in America, who has access to High-Speed internet and a good enough computer to code. However, this is only part of the story. What is, perhaps less understood, has to do with something called “Location Bias.”

I don’t live in a big city. Most of the jobs here are Retail, or Nursing, or Prison guards. Not the ideal situation for a person who needs to stay creative. The promise of remote work got me hooked on trying to get into tech. It has turned out that it's not as easy as just applying for a remote position. One positive for rural workers, that has evolved from Covid is embracing remote development and workforces.

This is why coding was super appealing for me: All I needed was a laptop and an internet connection.

With the amount of time I’ve spent learning, people would say it’s wasted time. It’s taken me this long because I had to balance full-time work, raising my family, being the best partner to my wife, all while learning to code. The biggest reason for Hustling is to be able to provide the best life for my family.

It’s been a year for everybody, but what pushed me over the edge was when I found myself working through a punch list for a freelance while my 2-year-old son was in surgery. It hit me hard, I felt ashamed for working. My child was having an operation to make him better. In the past couple of months, I have started taking medicine for anxiety. I have also tried to work while having kids run around, and I regret my parenting style when I get frustrated. It’s not who I am and it’s not how my kids should see me.

I want them to see me as a hard-working, dedicated father who was able to do anything he puts his mind to. But I know every journey has speed bumps, I can admit this and work on improving.

Remember who helped you, and why you started permalink

Nobody goes alone, and while that is hard to believe or accept. it's true. Yes, I was the one working long hours and providing for my family, and coding on the side. But I couldn’t have done that without the support of my wife and family. As well as the support I have got from the online communities I am a part of.

The list goes on and on, from people like Ryan Carson of Treehouse, who saw me working hard, and sponsored me to learn. To my friends from Twitter who have seen me work hard to get to where I am. I have had wins in this journey to get into tech, but looking back on it the biggest win is everybody I have met along the way.

“Only Hustle if you LOVE it”, I’m doing this for Survival permalink

Do I LOVE staying up until 2 am or later to make sure items on a punch list for a client project are done before the morning standup? No, when I have to be at my day job at 8 am the next morning. This also means I am passing a lot of other duties and responsibilities to my wife, who is taking care of the kids while I work full time and then some on the side. The money to be able to survive comfortably after the year we have all had is hard.

I write this while expecting my 3rd child, and having the paternity leave coming up from my full-time job, which will be nice to remember why I started this journey into tech.

Even with my first paid project under my belt, I still have night terrors, and/or trouble sleeping worrying that I am working hard enough. It’s something I will always struggle with. I will now be calling myself a “Recovering Hustler”. I will do my best to create the balance needed to provide the best environment for my family.

The Important Lesson: permalink

Improving is the goal. Keep building and creating, If you have a lot going on, take 30 minutes a day and create something. It’s how I made it this far, small steps. Heading into 2021, will be job hunt for jobs in Tech.