I recently accepted a new position at Bocoup, changed all of my doctors, threw out most of my clothes and drastically went into a cleaning frenzy in my apartment. I've actually tried to write this entry several times. Ultimately, the topic of change makes me feel vulnerable and anxious. I ask myself - did I make the right decision? and what would my life be like if I didn't make changes?
I'm not one of those people who just marches forward, throws caution to the wind and never looks back. Why? Cause that's bullshit. We are all living in a networked world. I am specifically working in the open source community where I am seeing people carrying out the projects that I started very publicly on twitter, on instagram, on facebook, on blogs etc. It's a) impossible to escape and b) I probably will be working again with colleagues and organizations that I "left".
Okay, so I'm not leaving the people, or the orgs, or even the projects - so why bother changing? It's super personal. I had a series of horrible, life changing events happen to me and in my opinion, it impacted my work.
If you know me, or read my blog, you probably already know that in 2012, Superstorm Hurricane Sandy touched down in New York and devastated the community where I grew up and where my parents live, Rockaway Beach. At the time, I took a leave from work so that I could locate my parents (I lost contact with them during the early days of the storm) and then help with the relief work that is associated with rebuilding a community after a natural disaster.
When I returned to work, it was very difficult. The project that I was working on changed, the person who would be my manager changed, my entire team had changed and I was emotionally struggling with going from shoveling sewage out of people's houses and locating missing relatives to drawing wireframes and dealing with the political bs that happens inside organizations with reorgs. Something didn't gel. For me, I needed something to remain the same. When you are getting married, people constantly tell you "only make one life change at a time." So, as you can imagine - this was nuts. I started to evaluate the work that I was doing and saw a better fit for me emotionally and creatively at Mozilla in the Open Badges Project. I made the change. Open Badges allowed for me to think about people who weren't getting recognized for their skills outside of the classroom - to me, this was an opportunity to pay forward military vets who volunteered their skills to rebuild Rockaway but then couldn't get "civilian" jobs.
I was satisfied and creative. The small context switch helped me to emotionally rebuild. The collaborative "we're on the same team" spirit of my colleagues, also helped me to get over the hump of returning to work after a trauma.
Work and life happened. At work, the Open Badges project developed and then the core team took the project outside of Mozilla (although I stayed). On the homefront, I got married. So tl;dr: I once again went through several life changes simultaneously - I became a wife and changed my job.
hello shit! meet fan
So if I stopped my entry here, it probably would have been enough. Enough for me to leave my job and to get some new context - hell, to do anything to feel like I was on a less bumpy road. But then, I got pregnant. I was so overfilled with joy that I was pregnant. I had waited over 4.5 months to tell work - just to feel safe. I was clearly showing at the time. I felt compelled to tell work because I had to go on a plane to another country for a work event and I wanted support. A sad truth here is that one reason that I felt that I had to tell work that I was pregnant was that there is such a bar and drinking culture at these tech events, that I wanted people to understand why I was opting out. During the 4.5 months that I was pregnant I had already been in a bar and had a senior exec at my company pour a drink into a cup and put it in my hand after I had stated that I was not drinking.
I'm still not ready to talk about all of the details about what happened, but I lost the baby. I lost the baby, and while I was in the hospital birthing the child, I had serious complications that forced me to stay off my feet for about six weeks. It's hard to communicate this in writing, but I was a mess. I was the kind of mess that would catch myself staring at a wall for long periods of time. The kind of mess that could not control my hysterical crying.
Once again, I returned to work. Once again, my company had a reorg. I found myself on a new team working on a new project. I immediately had to have conversations about my job upon returning to work. This was at the same time that I was holding a sharpie marker in my hand and looking at a piece of white paper as I just prayed that the creative juices would flow out. Not that I expected it, but very few people actually talked to me about why I was gone. I had to contact HR to talk to me - to get help reconnecting with the organization and work. There were fights that I just wasn't able to fight in - like the discussion about career growth for a creative in a tech organization. I just couldn't rebound, again. I still love the mission and the org, but I needed to make a change so that I could move forward with my life.
I left and it was the best decision that I've made in a long time. But it wasn't just a work change, it was a life change:
If you were a friend of mine - who didn't call me when I was awol for several months, you were demoted in my book
If you acted as a true friend or human to me - we got closer
If there were clothes that I didn't fit because of the physical changes that a woman goes through during pregnancies - I got rid of them. It's going to be a while until I can fit them and I am probably not going to return to this same state as the old me.
I went to therapy and started yoga - and it helped me to heal.
I returned to old passions - drawing, running and community based design.
I started a new type of challenge by working as a designer in an open source studio.
Things have not been smooth sailing, but I am still keeping afloat. And you know, I have faith that I will continue to be creative and contribute to the world in some small way. I just need to do it more on my own terms. I guess all these things have helped me to realize the importance of authenticity.