I almost gave up. I almost chose money instead of love, blamed sexism for some of my problems, and gatekeepers for the rest. I almost let the man keep me down.
For a brief moment, I thought that I had been duped. My younger brother is a software engineer in SF; he walked into a job after graduating making six figures. It took me three unpaid internships, two stipend assistant roles, and forty job interviews to land my entry-level job in publishing where I was technically ‘low income’. For Christmas my little brother bought me a new phone because I couldn’t afford one, my Dad paid for my ticket home. I wrote handmade Christmas cards for everyone because I couldn’t afford presents. I love writing and reading, and believe the publishing of ideas is vital to society, but this was not worth it.
If someone had sat me down, shown me the two paths, and said – you’ll be equally unhappy, but you’ll be able to have your own private library, throw literary salons, and be a patron of the arts – I would have studied Computer Science instead of English Literature. I thought it was sexism that had pushed me out of STEM and into the humanities, that had given my brother power and success, and forced me to rely on men to fund my necessities. I started researching career changing programmes, I went to a few meetups, I started an online course. I thought this is it, the perfect ending to my novel Pretty Words. Rachel Evens realizes publishing isn’t for her, quits her job and becomes a software engineer! Oh the irony. What a plot twist!
Then at a tech meetup, I was part of the way through a Ruby lesson, and I just couldn’t get it. I asked a tutor for help, and they tried to explain, but the words didn’t make sense. My brain started to buzz and I felt like I was fourteen again trying to learn Geometry. I wanted to learn, and knew I could if I practiced a lot and put my mind to it – I was a straight A student! – but it was a completely different way of thinking.
I realized that even though I was interested in coding, it was not what I wanted to make my living from. I had not been tricked by the patriarchy, I genuinely loved reading, writing, and communication. I was going to have to find a way to make a living from my passion.
I am still trying to learn how to code as I think it is vital to understanding the changes happening in our society, but I’m not going to rely on it to feed myself.
My brother is encouraging me. He says it’s just like writing in another language. But first, I am going to figure out how to make a living from the English Language.
Read the next post in the series “Self-Validation”
Read the first post in the series “Hi Again”.
Check out the full list of blog posts “How to Value Your Own Thoughts”