A Letter to My Past Self

15 Sep 2019

Dear Past Bekah,

You’re probably feeling excited, nervous, and frustrated right now. You might have gotten through those lessons and thought, “Wow, I’ve got the hang of this!” only to find out in the next lab that you don’t actually “have the hang of this.” And now you might be thinking that maybe this isn’t for you. Maybe this is a fun hobby, but not something that you could do for a living. (Spoiler alert: you’re wrong. You will do this for a living.)

You will eventually get the hang of Ruby and Rails and start to think, “Maybe there’s a place for me here. Maybe I’ll eventually be a woman in tech.” But it’ll be JavaScript and React and Redux that will tear you down again. And it will be life that makes you believe that maybe you weren’t made for this. Your kids will be sick. Your PTSD will be triggered. Your husband will be out of town when you’re working on your projects. And you’ll doubt yourself and whether or not it’s actually doable to be a mom and a developer, whether you can give your all to your family and your code. (Spoiler alert: it’s actually harder when you’re learning, and once you start working things will feel more seamless, and when the kids go to school, you’ll find that same groove you had way back in undergrad when you would sneak coffee into the library, spread your Lit Crit books, notes, and notebooks with Rachmaninoff playing on your portable cd player, and studied and highlighted and notecarded all you could for hours. It’ll feel that good.)

You’re longing for the days when you graduate and look for a job. You think, it’ll be easier then. Once you make it that far, you’ll be able to breathe. But then you’ll doubt you can ever pass a whiteboard challenge and maybe you will be stuck working for yourself or begging the English Department to take you back as an adjunct. (Spoiler alert: You won’t have to worry about either of those things.) But things won’t get easier when you start working. You’ll feel like you’re back at square one, diving into new things every single day, learning when to ask questions, when to keep searching. You’ll doubt yourself again, but by now you should learn your lesson.

You have been through so much already, and you made it. You’ll make it through this too. Stop telling your friend that you think you’re going to be fired. You’re in the training montage of this journey. Sometimes it’s going to look really sloppy and messy, and you’re not going to think you can try one more time, but you’re building. Getting stronger. You’ve forgotten that you had these same feelings of self-doubt when you started your first real job as a GED instructor and when you taught Composition 101 for the first time and when that grad school teacher asked you if you had any idea what you were doing. This is what it feels like to be new. These are your growing pains.

Remember how all of those previous experiences ended up? You learned, you grew, you became confident. You didn’t know the answers all of the time, but you knew how to find them. Some might take longer than others. That’s normal. So stop letting fear keep you from feeling like you belong. You are a woman in tech, and you didn’t get here by giving into challenges, by not making sacrifices, by letting fear dictate your decisions. You belong here.

You’ve got this.

Present Bekah