It's been a year since the pandemic began, so I think it's time to talk a little bit about it and explain how I went from being almost unemployed to getting a new job... and getting married!
Hi, I'm Michael, a Senior Software Engineer with 8 years of experience, and in the period between March and December 2020, I spent almost half of my time at home, layed off by my employer, because he couldn't get enough work to pay me for.
Oh well, of course I did, but you know what? If everybody is closing shop and you are the only one selling stuff, no one will have money to pay you.
Italy is a gorgerous country. Beautiful landscapes, awesome historical places to visit, incredible opportunities for work if you have just enough will to get involved and take a risk.
But still, a Senior Developer got his work time cut in half because of CoVid.
And man, I was really lucky to be honest.
390.000 companies, 11.3% of the total amount in the whole country, closed because of the pandemic in 2020 and many others are still closing day after day now, in 2021.
It is estimated at least 5 milion people will lose their jobs when the parliament will allow employers to dismiss people (As of right now, in Italy, a law is protecting people from being dismissed from their job because of Coronavirus-related reasons).
Can you see it now? I was very, very, very lucky. I got half of my salary for months, but still I got something in my pocket. My company did its best to protect everyone and, after a year in the pandemic, we didn't lose a single colleague. I cannot be anything but grateful to my employer, who worked 18-20 hours a day to find clients and partners to get through this situation to prevent us from losing our salaries and our jobs.
But still, it's been a really tough time. As my salary was being cut, my expenses went from ~60% of our incomes, to ~110%, burning all our savings.
I had to find something to do, or I would go crazy.
At first I was amazed at how boring it was to stay at home without anything to do.
I wanted to beat laziness, so I started doing things I wouldn't have a chance to do in any other situtation, and it saved my life.
Being a child of the RDBMS dogma, I never approached NoSQL architectures, but I always wanted to, so I started studying it thanks to the MongoDB University, and that was awesome. I felt in love with MongoDB, so much I hate my current job because I can't use it! In April 2020, I even took the MongoDB Certified Developer exam and got a certification!
And then my study addiction took me: I studied Vagrant, Docker, React, CSS Flex, CSS Grid, Tailwind, PostgreSQL, GraphQL, Jest, Storybook, RXJS, PostCSS. It was really an awesome way to spend much of the time I had.
That's right. After many months thinking about it, I took the chance and finally wrote my first book, a book about my dog, who left me 2 years ago after 13 years together. It's been a tough experience, the book is horrible and my writing skills are probably comparable to those of a duck, but still, that was an incredible experience.
For the first time after 8 years of professional development, I took a break.
Have you ever felt that tick inside your head telling you "Hey, if you keep going like that, you'll break yourself!"? Luckily enough, I had a chance to slow down a little, and finally took some time for myself. I had so much free time, I probably read 20 books in one month, I didn't count them, but still it was a revitalizing experience!
I bought a house with my girlfriend two years ago, but never had a single chance to lay in the bath for an hour without a call, a meeting or a conference of some sort. After just a couple of days relaxing, my dermatitis disappeared, my anxiety has gone, and I felt like a completely different person.
I wanted to put Family at the end not because of the least importance, but because this was really the last thing I realized, and I'll be immensely grateful for it, forever.
Staying at home with my girlfriend has been the most refreshing experience of my life, and surely helped our relation in any possible way. We started to experience the love for watching a movie together again, doing some jogging in the neighborhood, started talking, for real, about ourselves, our feelings and our emotions.
I took my relationship for granted for far too long, and I guess I should say thank you to the italian lockdown for finally stopping doing it.
The vaccination campaign is proceeding at a speed that brings hope, I got a new job, lost 50 pounds and we are getting married!
That's right! In September, me and my beautiful girlfriend will get married after 4 years together. I asked her to marry me during the May 2020 lockdown, bringing joy to both of us in the worst possible moment.
Like any good pandemic story, I asked her to marry me in tank top and shorts, and she said yes in pajamas, and that was the most romantic, genuine and spontaneous moment I could ever create to ask for her hand.
I don't know how your pandemic year went, but I can tell you how mine has gone: I studied a lot, relaxed and got the most beautiful yes I could ever receive, so please, try to get the best from every situation, regardless of how negative it may seem.
And now tell me, what's your story?