A Year of Showing my Work: Day 21

Daily word count: 2,297

Total word count: 7,286

I didn’t write a post yesterday and I only wrote 945 words on my novel. It’s all right, sometimes there are other things that you have to get done. I’d kind of like to talk about that other thing a bit, though.

About a year and a half ago, I decided to make a career change. I had been a community planner, doing demographic research and writing reports on land use trends and policies, for almost ten years and I hadn’t enjoyed it. Then I had stayed home to pursue a career as a writer, but that wasn’t going anywhere quickly. I needed work, but I wasn’t sure what kind of work I wanted to do. So I took some time (I was fortunate to be able to do that, thanks to my amazing husband) and figured out eventually that what I really like to do — the kind of work that feeds my soul — is to make things. I enjoy writing because I enjoy creating stories. I enjoy cooking because I enjoy making meals. The entertwined acts of creation and problem solving are a acts in which I lose myself.

So I decided to learn how to code. Er, rather, I decided to try it out for a bit, to see if I enjoyed it. My husband has worked as a software engineer for close to 15 years, so it was a natural choice. It had the added advantages of being a skill I could use to get a decently paying job and being something I could learn on my own without having to go back to college. So I gave it a try. And fortunately, I found that I loved it. I used Free Code Camp to learn front end development and eight months later I had a job working as a software engineer at Lexis Nexis.

But all that is just backstory. What I really want to write about is what I was doing last night. See, a few months after I started learning to code, my husband found a group called Girl Develop It that had a local chapter that was just getting started and he talked me into going to one of their meetups. I’m normally not all that social, but I showed up that Saturday morning and what I found changed everything for me. What I found was my people.

You know how sometimes you meet a person or a group of people and you just instantly click? It doesn’t happen often, but it happened that morning.

Girl Develop It is a national nonprofit organization devoted to encouraging and empowering women to learn to code. They offer social meetups called Code & Coffee, like the one I attended that morning, and affordable classes, which I attended later.

Anyway, earlier this year, the leader of our local chapter was looking for people to sign up as co-leaders and help her out and I decided to go for it. And that’s what I was doing last night. I went and met up with a few of our members at a Code & Coffee and then afterwards met with our chapter’s other leaders to talk about what we wanted to offer next year.

It’s funny to think about everything that has happened for me in the last year or two, and how much my life has changed. And I have to say, one of the best ways it has changed is my involvement with GDI. I went to the Chapter Leader Summit in Austin, Texas, last month and in one of the exercises we were asked to write a six-word story about what our involvement with GDI meant to us. I wrote “Found my people, found my purpose” and I meant it.

I love being involved with these women and hearing their stories about how they got involved with tech and coding. I love going to meet with them and feeling like I can be the complete nerd that I am because everyone there is a complete nerd and it’s fantastic. And I love feeling like maybe I can help even one of them find a hobby or career that fulfills them in some way.