Without a Net

I’ve worked at the same place for seven years now. That’s more than twice as long as any other place I’ve worked previously. I got my start there as a help desk technician. After more than a year of that, I transitioned into a Junior Oracle DBA role. And I’ve been there ever since. The amount of years I’ve occupied that role allowed me to drop the “Junior” from my title and add “SQL Server” and “MySQL” as well. It was a good move to get me beyond phone-in help desk support, which I had been in for about 6 years at various places before that.

I went into a lot more detail about that in my Pre-beginning blog post. Three years ago, I tried to find another DBA job elsewhere. I worked at that for a year or so before deciding that I probably didn’t want another DBA job. This time last year, the winds of change blew me into the possibility of being a Ruby programmer. I was excited about it and felt good about it. I liked the people in the community and it seemed it would be a much better fit for me than DBA work. But I kept my DBA job, because I valued the lifestyle it afforded me. It seemed like the sensible thing to do. Keep the steady paycheck coming, the 21 days of paid time off, the health, dental and vision insurance… After all, I work from home 100% of the time and have for a couple of years now. I had enough flexibility to be able to co-work somewhere else and still meet my expectations at the DBA job.

So I worked hard to make room for Ruby. I delegated off a lot of my DBA responsibilities to capable help desk technicians and often I had very little DBA work to do. It seemed like that should’ve been enough. And it probably could’ve been. The opportunity I had there didn’t pan out very well for me. But I ultimately feel that was for the best. I think that if it had worked out, I probably would’ve done it for a year or two, but I feel I still would’ve arrived at the conclusion that my calling is in User Experience Design (UX).

In keeping my DBA job, I played it very safe. And what I was really saying with that decision was “I really hope this Ruby thing works out, but if it doesn’t, I still have my day job.” And more pointedly, “I’m afraid I might not be able to do this, and I’m not willing to put my security on the line to give it all I’ve got. I don’t believe in myself enough to make a leap of faith here.”

A year later, I have learned from that. I DO believe in myself. I don’t know where I’ll land yet, but I know that I’ll hit the ground running wherever that may be. I submitted my letter of resignation at 11:00am this morning. My boss responded a short time later that he was sad to hear that I was leaving, but that he’d work with me to make my transition out as smooth as possible. He also made sure I knew he’d give me a good reference if need be. He’s a good guy. If it hadn’t been for him, I would’ve left there long ago.

Neale Donald Walsch said, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” And I do believe that to be true. I feel better having made my decison to leave official. I’ve only told a few people at this point, so it’s quite possible that you are one of my close friends and this is the first you’re hearing about it (please don’t be offended if that’s the case). I figured that writing a blog post was the easiest way for me to handle letting people know about this. Good friends included. I only really decided to do it about 24 hours ago.

So what comes next for me? I don’t know yet, but I’m excited to find out! I don’t have any savings or a nest egg. I don’t even have a credit card. So I’m well-motivated to find something soon. If I’m really lucky, it will be a start somewhere in UX. A place where I can start, learn and grow. If not, I’ll figure something else out. I believe in myself. For me, life isn’t about being comfortable and settling. It’s about learning, growing, expanding, and pushing boundaries. I have an exciting new journey I’m taking. And I’m getting started right… NOW!