Moving on from Alabama - Part 1
In December 2011, I moved to Alabama after my first semester in college.
One factor was that I didn’t think about when going to college 14 hours away from my little brother and little sister was a good idea at the time. I had every intention of completing college down in Alabama when I moved. I started going to a community college to get some generalized credits, and then I got sick.
My appendix ruptured, and then I spent a day or two in the hospital, had surgery, and then I went home. We thought everything was fine until I had to return shortly after, and I spent the better part of 2 weeks in the hospital recovering from complications. Then afterward, I never really returned to school after.
I started working in a family business, running a warehouse of equipment around to technicians around Alabama, and eventually Mississippi when the business expanded that way. When the business eventually because two different companies that did different things, I seemingly doubled my work. Sometimes I would running equipment around the state, then the next day I was helping install a home theater, setting up some networking equipment, or installing WiFi routers.
I got busy with work. I fell into a rather dark place with my mindset. Often, the hours I would spend gaming would drag me out if my dark place so I could go to work the next day.
Getting into Programming (2012 - 2016)
One of the things that I always talk about when I talk about how I learned to program is my Minecraft community. In 2011 I also joined a server ran by a well-known YouTuber in the Minecraft community. I met a LOT of cool people who many later became my friends. Some of which I still talk to this day, every day. When the first community of the YouTuber started collapsing, I picked up the stragglers and started my community. I had tried to help out the other community and had learned a lot about running Minecraft servers, so I knew I could do it.
I needed a website for my community, to put up information or rules on, and a friend from High School had introduced me to Ruby in December of 2012, so I naturally turned to Ruby on Rails for my Minecraft website. I knew how to do the Hello World, I could make the page look like I needed, and I had deployed one before.
In November 2013, I started the Rails app for my Minecraft server. It started as a very basic Rails app that was just some static pages. From then on, I became hooked. I found the power of writing strange characters that turned into VISIBLE changes on the screen. I felt like the powerful wizard behind the curtains.
I later expanded the app, to allow users to sign up and request to join my Minecraft servers. At the time, I needed to ease how hard it was for me to add a single person to up to 4 or 5 different Minecraft servers I had running at the time. It was after I completed that project that I felt I wanted to do it for work.
So the main point being, in 2011, when I moved to Alabama, I had no long term plans for my life. I didn’t know what I was going to do for my job, and I had gone through a phase of wanting to be a Police Office, an Ag Teacher, or maybe a Computer Detective. I was always good with computers, so all my family always tells me they knew I would end up doing something with them.
The Start of My Professional Career (2016 - 2018)
In early September 2016, I got a job offer in Birmingham, Alabama for a Software Engineering position, so I accepted and then moved from Tuscaloosa (only an hour away) the weekend before I started. I had an air mattress and my computer, that was all I took with me.
I ‘started over’ in Birmingham. I had found coworkers who LOVED doing what I loved and were amazing teachers and friends. Our team grew, our projects grew in size, and it taught me so much. I am so thankful for the experience I gained and the opportunities I had thanks to my bosses there.
In August 2017, I took my first vacation by myself ever. I went to Colorado to visit my Uncle, who lived there. When I was younger, we’d rarely visit my Uncle in Colorado, but I always remember loving my time there. The mountains are just so freaking cool.
From the time my plane’s wheels hit the ground, and I stepped out of that Airport, it felt perfect.
I remember talking to my friends in my community on August 30th, 2017, that “I want to move out there.” They jokingly said, “So when are you moving there? ;)”. I replied, “6 mos - 2 years.”
I wasn’t sure when I said that if that would happen. I just knew I liked it out in Colorado. I liked the access to the mountains; it felt like living out there could make me lead a more active lifestyle which I badly need.
Then I got on a plane back to Birmingham, Alabama. My life continued how it had for the past year until 11 months later. I got an email from a recruiter who wanted to put me in touch with a company out there in Denver.
The Exploding Offer
I took that call and a few others, and before I knew it, that company wanted me and gave me an offer. However, they gave me an exploding offer. An exploding offer is an offer that has a time cut-off on it that the person has to accept before. In my case it was 48 hours, I sent a few emails negotiating a bit more, and they went up to what their upper limit was, and that was all they’d be able to do. I had to decide with the information I had.
For over a year at that point, I had imagined that if I got a job out there, I’d move no matter the job. So after a few hours of thought, I accepted. “This was happening, I was moving to Denver,” I thought.
I quickly set about, putting the wheels in motion. The next day I turned in 3 weeks notice, we decided not to tell the team until it got to be closer. I was set to start in Denver a little under 5 weeks away at that point.
Things were moving fast; I set about finding an apartment with haste. I put a deposit down, got approved for one a few blocks from the new office. I bought moving boxes, priced a U-Haul Truck, had told all my family, including my Uncle in Colorado. I contacted some of the utility companies and was getting things set up for my new Apartment. I was excited to live in Colorado.
When the doubt came
I was so excited about the possibility to move to Colorado, and I had let my emotions cloud my judgment. I didn’t think the new offer or company through as much as I would have liked. I doubted my ability to move across the country by myself. I thought that once I got out there, they’d find out I’m a fraud who didn’t know how to code. The Denver housing market would swallow me whole, and I’d become homeless in Colorado once I lost the only job I thought I would ever get out there.
That sounds extreme, but it is the mindset I had worked myself into with all of the stress building up from the move. I was more terrified than I was excited about the move. That’s not exactly the best for your health when you’re no longer excited about moving.
Then a saving counter
One week passed between giving my notice (four-weeks) and receiving a counter-offer. Although during that week, I became terrified at the thought about leaving. After all, my coworkers, my team, were my friends. They were a second family for me. The counter to me was a rescue boat. The Captain of the rescue boat was my mentor, who gave me my first job in Software Engineering. A warm, welcome face for someone terrified of the Sea of Change.
There are so many statistics on the internet about how you should never accept a counter-offer. I had always said I wouldn’t accept one until I did. When I turned in my letter of resignation, I had stated my reasons, and the counter was straight on the head for handling all of my issues, it just wasn’t Colorado. However, I struck a deal with the Captain, and I would stay.
However, now, I had more lessons to learn. I had to tell the new company, who was excited about me joining that I wasn’t coming, that it wasn’t a good fit any longer. I had to give up my deposit on the Apartment I had put down. I had to tell the family I wasn’t leaving. It hurt to admit I wasn’t ready for Colorado. I lost almost $500 between the application fees + deposit on the Apartment — an expensive lesson on thinking before you jump. There’s no telling if I’ll run across people from the team at that company in the future. I hope they’ll be understanding that I had to do what I thought was best for me if so.
Back to normal, almost.
I went back to my old job, the changes that we had agreed to in the counter helped. Things were good again.
I’ll cut out the part of the story where I left my first job in Software. I now work fully remote for a startup, and I love the change of pace from my first job.
You’re working remotely: now what?
The short story is that I can do whatever I want. I’ve wanted to be in Colorado (seriously, for 2 years) but many years before that. I don’t have any timetable for moving other than a lease for my Apartment that’s up in September.
Therefore, I have decided to leave Alabama when my lease is up and moving to Colorado. I’m excited to take the next couple months to figure out and plan my move; then before long, I head out west.
Thanks for reading.
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