2016 – Career Change and Near Disaster

This year was without a doubt the toughest year of my life so far. I began another post over a month ago which was supposed to be this one, but I couldn’t bring myself to finishing it, and I don’t think I ever will.

If you haven’t already figured it out, my 2016 consisted of 2 big events.

Career Change

The year started off busy as I am involved in a massive transformation project at work which I’ve now been working on for over 2 years. Up until the end of March, I was a developer gearing up one of the systems for the change. I knew for a long time that I did not want to be a developer forever, but that it would be a solid foundation for growing my career in IT, a place I have no intention of leaving any time soon. I could not see myself writing code at 50 years old. Long story short, I became a Business Analyst, for the same company, so I could bridge that ridiculous communication gap between them and developers. Plus, it’s an excellent foundation for becoming a Business Architect, and maybe even an Enterprise Architect later on.

In general, developers have a terrible opinion of BAs: that all they do is write documents and that they don’t ask the right questions to get those documents right. Consequently, BAs think that developers are stubborn robots, and truth be told, most of them are. (Don’t stab me if you’re a developer, or know one that isn’t a stubborn robot, I’m talking general terms here).

In April, my title changed from Senior Developer to Senior Consultant, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. This phase of the project had to be divided into separate streams so that each could be tracked individually. Because of my experience on one particular system as a developer, I was immediately made the lead of that stream. I did find it a little awkward adjusting to the new responsibility because my previous boss and junior colleague were now answerable to me, even though I was technically not their boss. Being the lead basically opened up multiple roles for me because of the daily tasks I had to perform, such as that of Project Manager, BA, and even Developer on some occasions. Funny enough, because we are working with an offshore company, I even served as a translator for the local developers. I’m also the bullshit-smeller for some of the cocky developers who forget that I have several years of past experience as one. It can be both frustrating and amusing, but I guess it is the universal attitude of developers to think they are more intelligent than everyone else!

But you know what, BAs and Developers can get along. Just look at these pics:

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Not that this has anything to do with my career, but this post would also not be complete without another photo of what was the funniest thing to happen to me this year: being photo bombed by a complete stranger while posing with my best friend.

Photo bombed by a stranger at the SA On Tap craft beer festival

Near Disaster

My mother was taken into ICU in the early hours of the morning of the day that the above photo was taken. It was less than 2 weeks into my new job, and the event I had attended with one of my best friends (who is wearing a shirt that I have too) was something we had planned months before. In case you don’t know, I live in Johannesburg, but my parents are in Durban. I’m not going to go into detail about why and how my mother was put into ICU as that is the very reason why I couldn’t bring myself to even read through what I had written in my original draft post of this year. My bosses were gracious enough to allow me to fly down to Durban on the Monday in order to be with her for as long as we needed, but since I had literally just started the new position, I offered to work remotely. 3G was an absolute lifesaver, and since I didn’t have my own card for such a last minute trip, a generous friend and coworker offered me hers.

On Tuesday my dad and I went to see the neurosurgeon and he told us that my mother had had a brain aneurysm. Basically, she had a 1% chance of surviving the procedure that she had to have, and it was a lifesaving one. My dad and I were basically saying goodbye to her, moments before her procedure. I can’t put into words the depth of our fear. In those few visits prior to the procedure, I had to be strong for not only myself, but my dad as well (he isn’t strong at all) because I didn’t want her to know that I was scared and what had actually happened to her (she thought she had had a stroke), but in those moments where I thought I was saying goodbye, I couldn’t hold back my tears and all I said to her was “Just come home”.

She did.

I stayed in Durban for 2 weeks until she finally got out of ICU and into a general ward, and eventually home. It is literally a miracle that she survived, and it was the first time in my life where I realised how much she actually loves me. Her survival of something like this also made me realise that I don’t know anyone stronger than her in the world. It only made me even stronger, even though I had many sleepless nights and anxiety attacks after the ordeal once I got back to Johannesburg. Very few of my friends knew about it and I can’t thank them enough for their support.

As for my mother, all I can say is thank you for coming home.

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With Christmas less than a month away, I can’t wait to get back home to Durban to spend what could very well be my last festive season there, since after our ordeal with my mom, we realised how precious time is. My parents are therefore on the road to selling their house so that they can move up to Johannesburg with me. They worry that I will not meet someone and get married, but I say it’ll happen when it’s meant to. After all, I’ve got time, I just don’t know how much of it will be with them. They’re at a fragile age where anything could happen, and although my dad is built like a mule, there’s no telling what could happen at the blink of an eye.

Time is a valuable thing and the last thing we should take for granted is how much of it we have.

“One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember”.

As for 2016, you’ve been an absolute pain in the ass. “That’s nice!“.

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