My Worst Moment, The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me

Change is inevitable.  More often than not, it happens so gradually that we don’t notice it all. Other times, it has a nasty habit of showing up without permission or notice. It rains on us before we even realize there’s going to be a storm. The only say we get in the matter is in the choices we make in the face of these changes. It is in those choices that we shape ourselves.

[bctt tweet="My Worst Moment, the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me, by @eliz_holzman" username="StartupInst"]

Not so very long ago, I was $40,000 in debt and facing personal bankruptcy. That was a storm I was not ready for.

Two short months prior I discovered that my fiancé was cheating on me. It took less than a half hour for me to lose my fiancé, my home, my dog, everything we’d built and everything we’d planned for our future. To say I was devastated would be putting it lightly. I was overwhelmed, scared, off-balance. I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. All our money had been going into setting up a new business for him, and he was supposed to be there while we paid it all off. He was supposed to be the one I turned to when I felt like this. You know that rug that people always mention being stolen when you least expect it? That was long gone. When I walked away, all I owned were my clothes, our debts, and his flat screen TV.

Would you believe me if I told you this was the best thing that could have happened to me?

Somehow it’s when we’re in our worst moments that we’re able to see things clearly.  When we feel that we can sink no lower, when there is nothing left to really lose, that we recognize the things that matter. When energy levels are at their lowest, that we get a glimpse of where we are willing to expend our precious reserves.

[bctt tweet="It’s when we’re in our worst moments that we’re able to see things clearly, says @eliz_holzman" username="StartupInst"]

I hated my job.

It wasn’t until I had nothing to distract me that I realized how I felt about it. Until this point, it was a means to an end. I worked so I could pay the bills, buy food, pay rent. But those things aside, there wasn’t a whole lot else keeping me there. I enjoyed the people. I enjoyed the responsibility of my position. But other than that, I was bored. I needed a challenge. I needed a change. And what better time to take a leap of faith and pursue a new career than when you have nothing to lose?

[bctt tweet="What better time to take a leap of faith than when you have nothing to lose? —@eliz_holzman" username="StartupInst"]

Mahatma Ghandi said,

As human beings our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world . . . as in being able to remake ourselves.

If I wasn’t happy in life, it was up to me to set that right, wasn’t it? No one is responsible for me or my feelings but me. I knew I never wanted to feel that lost and broken again and that gave me the drive I needed to do something about it. I made the decision to invest in myself.

People are resilient by nature, and boy was I ready to bounce back. I wanted something better for myself. I refused to settle for a job that just "paid the bills." Where it felt like my life didn’t start until 5pm. I didn’t want my job and my life to be two separate things. I wanted to feel like work was a part of my life–a part I enjoyed. A place that would challenge me to keep learning, keep thinking, and keep growing.  Did I have any idea how to go about finding such a wonderful place to work?

[bctt tweet="I refused to settle for a job that just paid the bills, for a life that started at 5pm—@eliz_holzman" username="StartupInst"]

Not a clue.

All my life I’ve been a tinkerer. A puzzler. A builder. Someone who enjoys the process of putting things together. Didn’t matter what it was. If there was a process to be learned, I wanted to figure it out. It led me to a BFA in 3D Art. It brought me back to school for psychology where I could learn what makes people tick. It helped me excel in math classes, where arithmetic and geometry just made sense. I pass the time with puzzles and logic games. Making sense out of chaos. Finding solutions to problems that others might not even notice. If only someone would pay for these things!

[bctt tweet="All my life I’ve been a tinkerer. A puzzler. A builder. Making sense out of chaos —@eliz_holzman" username="StartupInst"]

By some form of luck, or chance, or fate, I stumbled upon a career that would do just that.

Software engineering. Now here was a career that spoke to me on a fundamental level. One that was certain to challenge me. One where creative thinking would be an asset. Each new project would require abstracting larger problems into concrete pieces and puzzling those pieces together to find solutions. It’s an art form in itself. A new medium for me to learn. One that seemed like a never-ending, ever-changing logic puzzle. This was going to be fun.

[bctt tweet="#Softwareengineering is an art form, an ever-changing logic puzzle, says @eliz_holzman" username="StartupInst"]

Did I have the technical skills to be a software engineer?

No. But the tinkerer in me knew that I’d enjoy learning. Could I make that transition on my own? Probably. But some folks at the Startup Institute saw things in me that I was only just starting to see in myself and I was suddenly immersed in the tech scene. The network of amazing people I’ve met has been astounding. Do I still get scared that I’ll fail? Absolutely. But was I willing to stay in at job I hated, simply because it was familiar and paid the bills? Not a chance.

[bctt tweet="The network of amazing people in the #tech scene helped my #careerchange—@eliz_holzman" username="StartupInst"]

I’m proud to say that I am now a software engineer —debt-free and happier than I’ve been in a long time.

My change came about by way of a storm. I was faced with a sudden and life-altering event. I didn’t get to choose whether things would change, simply which direction the change might take me in. Not everyone gets such a clear sign saying “now is the time.” For those people, I think choosing a new direction might be trickier. It’s not easy to step out of the flow and recognize the slow changes that happen day to day. It’s not easy to break routine, step back, and realize that behind all the rest, you really aren’t happy. But everyone is capable of choosing to fight for something better and I urge everyone to take a moment and really look at where you are in life.

It may end up being the best decision you ever make.

[bctt tweet="Each one of us is capable of choosing to fight for something better —@eliz_holzman" username="StartupInst"]