It’s been a while.
The last post I wrote here was at the end of September. We’d just came back from a summer in France and I met with the slightly inconvenient news that my full time job was cut.
This got me in decision making mode.
I had been attempting to become a Front-End developer.
I’m a determined person. I love to learn stuff, seriously, my modus-operandi is “never get bored” there’s just too much to learn. But there is a large dose of addiction and stubborness and very little strategy in this MO.
Conclusion: I burn out. I never see the finish line and suddenly I let things fall out of my hands.
I lose control between the learning and the doing. I take monumental detours but…
Learning something like web development today makes me think of people in the trading floor at the Stock Exchange.
Fast, loud, exhausting.
The feeling of “striving” is not a nice one, and I felt like that for many months, like I had to learn everything in order to be taken seriously. I didn’t acknowledge what I learned, I just saw what I still had to learn. I spent several hundreds of dollars to learn from some of the people I consider very good in the field but somehow I was nowhere near my goal.
It’s a cliché and probably not very tasteful to say that losing my job might have been a good thing, but I think it was. It made me take everything I had learned up until that moment and just throw myself out there as a web person. I had not only learned how to make websites, I had learned how to customize WordPress themes, how to secure a site, how to fix responsiveness, plus a bunch of other things.
I realized that the most powerful thought I can have is “I will figure it out”. At one point, in the middle of a self-doubt episode, my husband asked me: has there been anything you haven’t been able to fix? Like a little kid that suddenly stops slobbering I said… actually no. There is always an answer, there is always someone that will be willing to help you. So I marched on.
What bothers me in this Women Learn to Code hype…
We are bombarded by information and we just take it. We are marching against powerful gusts of wind, only it’s text, video, tweets, updates, etc. and most of it is MARKETING.
“What you need to do to work from your couch!” “The one thing you need to know to get the freelance career of your dreams!” “How to get hired in tech with minimal tech skills”
Are these familiar?
Women are very easy to sell to, certainly, myself included, I bought a course to learn Genesis on a whim and it taught me nothing, not because it was a bad course. I didn’t approach it in a healthy way, in a curious way, I approached it with the feeling of “I must know how to do this or I won’t be able offer my services”. This is why online courses are a goldmine, we are letting people plant desires in our minds that are not actually our initial desires.
I wanted to learn to build websites and the very initial reason, before the women learning code movement was established, was to “not depend on the developers at my job”, it then turned into “Maybe I would like to have a side business”, but as I looked for the tools to learn web development, I got caught up in the “glamourized” world of freelancing.
Fast forward from September 2014 to March 2015.
I am working as a freelancer, officially. I kept my old employer as a client, with a better rate, less hours, more flexibility.
I started attending WordPress meetups. In the last one, a panel organized by WordPress Montreal, I met with two lovely people, ver active in the WordPress community and in other endeavors. After an initial meeting, they invited me to become a collaborator with their small agency. I like their approach. Their values match mine, it’s not a “make money like crazy” type of agency. They accepted my rates and that was that. A design agency keeps sending me little jobs here and there, mostly coding newsletters, ah! the old days of nested tables!
I started my own marketing campaings by sending emails to people I’ve met in the past to let them know what I’m doing and what my services are. I’ve had some results with this but I haven’t been consistent.
Is this “the freelance life I’ve been dreaming of?”. Errr no. Of course I don’t complain, it just pains me to see people having a really hard time with chasing the dream and perpetuating disdain for the “cubicle life” because in reality, in the “cubicle life” there is often a finish line, it’s at 5:00 p.m. and then you do what you want with your life.
For the first time in many years I’m answering emails on Sunday and having a hard time sleeping because I have skype calls (which are a phobia of mine – introverts problem) and when I sit down to do my financials my palms get sweaty. Right now, I’m in the red.
And it’s not because I’m not trying hard enough, or putting in the hours, although I might be crazy for trying to create two businesses at the same time, it’s because the reality of freelance life is like the reality of anything, you name it: you dream of having a baby and you only see lovely bundles of joy quitely sleeping in their baby carriages but you never see the 60 diapers per day, you see someone’s art practice in their beautiful illuminated studio but you have no idea how many hours were invested to create ONE thing. Reality is reality.
So all this to say that if you’re learning web development, design or trying to become a “creative” of some sort, it’s really important to step out of “striving” mode and to take it slowly. Taking into account what you already know and not focusing all the time in what you have to learn.
Today I finally transferred my first WordPress site from a local environment to a live server. I had been avoiding this since the beginning. I was so afraid of breaking something that I always did the unthinkable. Created the theme and then finish the site in my live server with a maintenance plugin in place.
The site that I transferred has a story: It was developed in Cuba, where there is no readily available internet. The people that developed it must have learned this with very scarce resources, try getting an internet connection once in a while to just read about WordPress. This website was basically transported in a USB key from Cuba to Montreal, where a friend of mine and of the developers bought a domain without knowing anything and so he bought it in GoDaddy. He thought he’d bought hosting but no, what he bought was a website builder inside GoDaddy.
When he asked for my help, I was in the “enough of working for free” phase, I almost said no but I couldn’t bring myself to not helping him.
So he handed me this USB key that contains the work and portfolio of a stained slass artist from Cuba.
What is commonplace for most developers for me was like walking on a tight rope but I succeeded. I still have to fix the broken images and links but the site is on it’s little corner of the internet, the stained glass artist can now show his work globally and I feel good.
This is the type of things that make me keep going. Even when I’m in the red and I get a knot in my stomach every time I see another “How to make money doing what you love” headline.
My web services web site is Flux Gusto. I’m very easy going!
My hand drawn graphics and clipart are at my Etsy store.
And here, well, I’ll continue to ponder about the exciting world of website development!