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!“.

Negativity: Throw it out

I’m going to be 30 years old this year. Its a little scary but I’ve heard that you have the most fun in your 30s, so I’m definitely looking forward to it. I’ve changed a lot in the last decade, and much of it is attributed to the travelling I’ve done, my friends, and my family.

Since I got back from Switzerland in September last year, so much has changed in my life. People who I thought were always there, left. Friends left the country, and ones that disappeared came back. There were many negatives but they were overshadowed by the positives.

I have always lived my life in a certain way and part of that way is to believe in people. I am a good judge of character and if I don’t click with you instantly, there’s a very good chance I don’t like something about your character. I will never pretend to be friends with you, and that doesn’t mean that I don’t like you, I just prefer to keep you away from my circle. If you’re mature enough, you wouldn’t be offended by that.

I’ve learned how fake people can be the hard way. I still fail to understand how people can act a certain way in front of you but have evil thoughts and intentions hidden behind it. I could never do that. As I said, I’d rather keep by distance from you – why should I pretend that you’re my friend if I don’t consider you one? Neither of us will benefit from it, so why do it? Some people are so full of hate that no matter what you do or say, they will always have a negative interpretation of it because they don’t believe those who are actually genuine. They expect everyone to be fake like they are, which is probably why they find it so difficult to trust others. They will also believe anything negative that is said about you and won’t even try to hear your side of the story.

Screw fake people

My point is, don’t waste your time trying to please people. Go with your gut feeling when it comes to judging character. Its easy to see when someone is genuine or not. Watch their mannerisms and behaviour around others, especially those less fortunate than themselves. If they’re always on their phone when they’re with you but take hours to respond to your message, don’t trust them. Also watch how they interact with people whose backs they talk behind. If you’re not very good at gauging someone’s character, these are good subtle ways in which to do it. If they’re genuine, their behaviour around the same people and things will be uniform no matter when it is.

Genuine people remain genuine, and as I look back now, those people who were nice from the start are still the same way because they have nothing to hide, neither do they have an image they have to maintain. Their eyes, faces, and smiles look the same as it did 20 years ago. Those are the people who truly know who they are.

There are genuine people left in the world, though they are few and far between. Learn to trust them when you find them, because they’re not out to get you. No, really! These are the people that want nothing from you but your company, and might just be that saving grace you needed.

Ditch the fake friends and associates who don’t have your best interests at heart. Life is short so its pointless keeping the negative with you. When something negative happens to me, I completely shut it out of my life. If its a person, I delete their phone number and any means of communication that we may have had, depending on how bad the problem was and whether or not they tried to rectify it. There is no need to continue harping on what happened. If they weren’t willing to rectify the problem, its certainly not worth your time since you obviously didn’t mean all that much to them in the first place. Remember that those people probably played no role in getting you where you are today – all it means is you actually don’t need them in your life.

“Never confuse people who are always around you with people who are always there for you.”

Different Ideas

So I have this friend that I studied with a few years ago. We were always pretty close but we lost touch for a few years when I changed degrees. We got back in touch recently and its as if nothing has changed. Actually, nothing has. He’s still the same sweet, caring guy I knew then. He still has the same girlfriend too (going on something like 8 years now) and there are still no marriage plans. I wonder sometimes what’s going on.

But anyway, this has made me think a bit. What if you’re in a relationship with someone for that long, and marriage is something you’ve thought about, but haven’t acted on yet? What are you waiting for? I think if that was me, the only reason I would have delayed was if I had a doubt in my mind about whether its something I really want forever. The thought could have been planted by, I think, any of the following:
1. Something your partner did
2. Something you want to do but haven’t because your partner is holding you back
3. Something your partner said or their behaviour towards something
4. Someone else’s views that made you think outside the box

I’m not saying that if your partner did or said something, that it is wrong. I’m saying that if it was something that you didn’t feel good about because of your own personal views, then yes, its good to accept it if you love the person, but at the same time, it may not be something you should ignore. Is it worth living forever with that feeling?

Something I heard from the movie Marley and Me: “Mend it, don’t end it”. Its difficult making decisions like this.

In my friend’s case, I hope he makes the right decision. Personally, I don’t think the girl is right for him. I just hope he doesn’t end up marrying her and ruining his life. Dear friend, think long term. Marriage is not a joke. You’re a good guy, don’t make a decision you know you’re going to regret, especially when there will be children involved.

As for me? Depends. If I was married, I’d try to mend it to the best of my ability. If I wasn’t married, I’d reevaluate everything and if its not worth it, I’d end it. Its better to end it sooner than later, right?