Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

Life is a Winding Road

When I started this blog series on June 11, 2016, I had intended to just chronicle my journey through a coding bootcamp. I specifically said that I was not going to get “into a long story of how I got to where I am,” but this blog has evolved since then. It’s time to go back to the beginning.

Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash

I’ll start with my marriage. I married a Korean man I had met while on an internship in Japan. He moved here to Chicago and we started out ok, but it did not work out well. We were young, and we had such enormous differences in culture, that our ideas of marriage and parenting were not compatible. I don’t want to go into details, but it was bad and I was miserable. To his credit, he left his home country, his family and friends, and moved to a place where all he had was me, and he didn’t even speak English initially. So it was hard on him, too. So we divorced and I took full custody of our daughters and he moved far away.

It was difficult for me to be a single mom, not just because it is really difficult, but because for many years, I was only “Mom” and Andrea was lost in that responsibility. I know other moms can identify with this feeling. It is much stronger if the weight of all responsibility is on you. In addition to this, I have always suffered from depression. This makes life significantly more difficult because you’re fighting with your own mind. During times where I felt like nothing more than a slave to my job and kids, it was really tough to keep moving forward. Hopelessness would tug at me incessantly. Yes, I did consider suicide innumerable times, but I could never hurt my daughters like that. So it was never an option, regardless of how I felt. Those thoughts remained in my head and were tolerated until they passed. For the record, I did get help and medication. However, there is no “cure”.

My solution was always change. I needed change to keep moving forward. I pivoted from a first career as a mid-level supervisor in the world of consumer credit to a small business owner of a pet care business. I was sick of the bureaucracy and daily monotony of working for a huge company, the “babysitting” of having employees, and being in a field where I felt unfulfilled. I also wanted to be able to spend more time with my daughters, and a flexible schedule. So after a corporate restructuring, I took my layoff as a gift, and I started my own business.

For about 11 years I took care of people’s pets when they were at work or out of town. These pets and some of the owners became a second family to me. I absolutely loved it. I also got deeply involved in rescue in Chicago. This gave me purpose — I was saving lives. It became very important to me and a huge part of how I identified as a person. I was no longer just a mom. I was also more in control of my own schedule and could do a better job of being there for my daughters. I had the respect of many people and became a resource to the community.

Over the years, I used too much of my time, energy and income on rescuing animals. It became apparent that I was never going to be able to be debt-free or have any savings for vacations or retirement. I lived day to day, and sometimes my kids and I had to do without everything but the bare essentials. They grew up to be frugal, empathetic and caring young ladies, though — and do not feel they were “cheated” of anything. They have even told me that they appreciate the way they had to learn how to be grateful for everything they had and not take things for granted. They also learned how to be strong and independent, and to persevere through tough times.

Now that they are older (currently 17 and 23), and my first is out of college and on her own, I need to pivot again. I was starting to forget things and wanted to refresh my brain. “Use it or Lose it!”, they say. So I decided to do something that would exercise my brain and make a much better, steady income with benefits. I needed to learn again. So that is when I decided to enroll in a coding bootcamp. So now I have explained how I got here — to being who I am today.

I am still learning. Becoming an Android Developer is not easy, and I still have a lot to learn to be where I need to be. I hope that this blog will evolve again and I will be able to help others down the path of becoming a developer. For now, I have to keep studying.