Escaping Rock Bottom

Anthony Williams
Jun 4, 2015 · 5 min read

How one weekend changed my life.

The most important question we reflect upon ourselves everyday is so simple, yet so complicated; why? Why do we do the things we do? Why are we here? Is there a reason? Is there a bigger picture, or is this it?

Many of us walk through life without knowing our purpose, without reaching beyond ourselves to contribute to the world. Everyday we have the chance to not only change our own life for the better, but also those around us, our friends, family, community and society.

For the past 6 months, I’ve dealt with rejection after rejection, eventually it started to shape the way I think. I’ve only been programming since August 2014, it’s been less than a year, maybe I’m not good enough? Maybe I’m not experienced enough? Maybe I’m not smart enough? Maybe I should go back to mechanical engineering, or I should try economics or business. The way I had to look at rejection is that the glass is half full, there is a reason I’ve have been rejected and it’s up to me to improve myself personally and professionally. After a ton of hard work put in, multiple failed interviews and a collection of ignored applications I’ve hit rock bottom (so I thought).

I found the light as soon summer had began, I had been offered an internship through my network and I finally had the opportunity to move to my dream city, San Francisco. One week before the start of my internship I was leaving to San Francisco for the Code2040 TAP Retreat. With packed bags, goodbyes to friends and family completed I was ready to leave and excel in the tech capital of the world. After flying in to San Francisco, I found myself touring the company that had so kindly offered me the chance to prove my worth, to pick me up off my feet and let me know that I am worth something. This led to the discovery that I wouldn’t be doing any programming or anything tech related as a matter of fact, I would be in support making phone calls. My network had been completely wrong. Don’t get me wrong, this was a great opportunity to network in San Francisco and to get paid for it! But this isn’t me, this isn’t my purpose and I couldn’t accept the opportunity.

Now this… This… This is what rock bottom felt like. I’m embarrassed, what will my friends back home think of me? What will my family think of me? What do I think of me? I couldn’t find it in me to piece myself back together and keep moving, I was over it, I was done. I had thrown myself into the world and allowed it to swallow my dreams up. I didn’t want to continue the day and have to go deal with the Code2040 TAP retreat where I knew I’d be alone.

I arrived in Oakland and checked into a fully paid for hotel by Code2040, as I sat in my room I contemplated on not even showing up and say I just “fell asleep.” I realized that Code2040 was giving me my opportunity right here, right now, why wouldn’t I take advantage of this? I got out of bed and headed down to the Oakland Impact Hub. Upon arrival at TAP, I sat in the back and was completely ready to get this weekend over with. What was the point? Why was I here? I’m not good enough. I stopped feeling sorry for myself just in time to pick my head up and notice the eager students around me ready to learn, ready to face any obstacle that came their way. At that moment I had a choice to make, I was either going to let myself take the beating or I was going to fight back.

With the amazing weekend Code2040 had put on allowing us to network, practice behavioral and technical interviews, meet with professionals in the industry, learn about branding and creating our image I couldn’t help but feel inspired, I felt whole again. They didn’t just build a better professional, they built a better me. I found myself to be a completely new person by the end of the retreat, with some personal determination, Code2040 cultivated a better human being within me. I became more confident in my technical abilities as well as with who I am as a person. I was the type of person who could describe every detail of your shoes by the end of a conversation because I was too afraid to make eye contact. I would’ve never been able to openly share my thoughts and experiences in front of a crowd, I wouldn’t have been able to walk up to a group of staff members, ask to sit down and have a fun and genuine conversation.

Sharing my experiences

I found that I valued myself more than ever, I found worth, I found purpose, I found me. I value my background, culture, friends, family and all those who I have ever crossed paths throughout my life because it has made me the driven person I am today.

“You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.”

— Will Smith

I may be inexperienced and young, but I remain hopeful and ready for whatever comes next. My last wall has crumbled, but today I am a new me. I’m starting with a brand new wall, and I’m laying my bricks as perfectly as a brick can be laid.

Thank you to Code2040, the industry professionals, the students and everyone I have met this past weekend.

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Twitter: @AnthonyPrograms