Friends, it’s been hard. Everything’s been hard for everyone. We’re struggling to fight despair, to dream of a future, to stay motivated. We’re losing our jobs, our “normal,” our hope. We’re trying our best and somehow that doesn’t seem like enough. And if you’re like me, you’re trying to do whatever you can to keep moving forward, to feel like you’ve accomplished just one thing this week. And my friends say, “Bekah, you have accomplished things. You’ve interviewed, done coding challenges, applied for jobs, homeschooled your kids, and worked out.” And somehow that doesn’t feel like I’ve done anything at all. It feels like I’m stuck and I can’t focus and I’m not making progress, and I’m judging myself based on what I think I should be doing. And I’ve felt this before.
I’ve felt this before. I felt this after I went through my trauma. I didn’t know if I’d ever get better. This time it’s different though. How is the world going to get better? Are we getting better? Are my kids ok? I yelled at them too much today. It took one of them eight hours to get through their school work, and I had to constantly remind them to stay focused. I’ve hardly had any quiet time in the last two and a half weeks. I’m an introvert and I’m around people all the time. And things are different.
About three weeks ago, I was talking to Dan, who I worked for. And he told me not to worry about work. I didn’t have to work if I needed to focus on other things, like my family. And I told him something like, “Work helps me feel normal.” And then a couple of days later I lost my job. And then nothing felt normal.
I took an hour or two and then posted on social media about looking for work. The response was unbelievable. I had so many people reach out and so many affirmations and retweets. And then the interviews started. I narrowed it down to a handful, because honestly, trying to keep up with everyone was making me lose it a little. And then the handful started to fade away. They were all losing funding or freezing the hiring process. Two asked me to continue with the interviews for when things got better. And then there was the coding challenge.
I’m not a cryer, but last Thursday I cried for ten minutes straight. I just cried. Because I was overwhelmed. Because I didn’t know what was going to happen with the world. I didn’t know if I could hack a coding challenge under this strange amount of pressure. I didn’t know if I were even good enough to do it under normal circumstances. I wasn’t ready for it. I loved my job. I loved working for Dan. I felt safe where I was, and I certainly wasn’t ready to leave. I had my dream come true after I graduated from Flatiron School and started this job, and now I didn’t have that anymore. I was being pushed out of the nest way before I ever dreamt of it. And it’s scary.
And in the middle of this uncertainty, I was taking a coding challenge. Someone today asked me how I would describe how I felt. I felt it all. I felt devastated that I was moving further away from the job I desperately wanted to go back to. I felt excited that someone liked me enough to offer me a coding challenge. I felt happy that I had the support of so many people. I felt nervous and frustrated and so damn tired. And I felt bad because I felt good in this weird world. And I know that it’s ok to feel good and to have hope and to push forward, but it also feels strange to do that.
So I did it. I completed my first four-hour coding challenge. It. Was. Intense. I’ve coded for three hours straight before, but that’s after I’ve built up to it. No breaks. Just code. With the current circumstances and interviews, I had hardly spent any time coding, let alone four hours straight, and certainly not in the evening.
Let’s talk habits for a sec. I am a morning person. I was born at 6:50am, and I will forever be a morning person. Period. When I code at 4:30am, I’m focused. Once 4:30pm hits, my brain starts to move towards sleep mode. But when you’re in shelter-in-place, there aren’t exactly babysitters who will come watch your kids so you can have your best brain to do the coding challenge. So I had to wait for my husband to be done with work at 5:00pm to start the challenge. Friends, I’m usually in bed by 9:00pm. So, I did what anyone else would do and took a pre-workout drink, hoping it would get me through. Well, it–and probably adrenaline–did get me through.
I completed all the required elements and was able to incorporate some of the bonus elements. Were there things I wish I did better? Yep. Did I add comments in some of those places? Yep. Was I exhausted afterward? Yep. Did I fall right to sleep? Hell no. That adrenaline was kicking til 11:30. I laid in bed. I took some herbal supplements. I drank some tea. I laid in bed some more. And then I had the most restless sleep. But I made it. I did something that I never thought I could do. And a couple of days later, I got the message: We’d like to move on to a final interview.
The morning after the coding challenge, I went for a run with 75% of my kids. (I have four kids, so it’s fun to put them into percentages). Our neighborhood is a loop, with a quarter up hill, and a quarter downhill. Since I was jogging, I put my three year old in the stroller. And every time I pushed her up the hill, at the point where I could hardly breathe, she would start asking me questions. After a couple of loops, at the top of the hill, she–frustrated that I refused to answer her questions while running the hill–said, “I don’t like hills. Do you?” To which I replied, “Yes! Hills make us stronger.” And just like that I remembered this lesson about life. Well played, kid. Well played. Now let’s hope I remember this as I go into my last interview tomorrow.