On 19 June 2018, I wrote on Twitter that I was available for hire.
So … uh … I’m available for hire
— 🧑🏻💻 Randolph West 🏳️⚧️ (they / them) ⊕ (@_randolph_west) June 20, 2018
The economy in Calgary, where we live, was going through a slump. My regular customers in the energy sector weren’t doing the consultant thing, and I was not busy. I even considered going back to full-time employment, as long as I could work from home.
While it is not that evident from the stats on that tweet, I heard from a lot of people. I don’t remember how many, but it was a lot. I also coincidentally noticed that a lot of the people in the SQL Server community were getting blue badges.
This is not a post about how I’m going to be moving to Redmond. I am not. I like Calgary and my husband is doing amazing work for the community here. Work that I don’t understand half the time. It’s like how I can watch a database instance for a few seconds and figure out what’s wrong, but with human beings.
So no, I am not moving to the US and becoming a Microsoft employee. What the following months after that tweet demonstrated, however, is that there’s some truth to the adage that luck is a combination of timing and opportunity.
Many opportunities came my way. Not one actual job offer. I spoke to a few people in different cities (and countries), even travelling on someone else’s dime for an intensive series of interviews which I realize I tanked at the end in the home stretch by being vague enough to give them an uneasy feeling. But things hadn’t felt right about it and that made me feel uneasy.
It’s been 15 months since that tweet. What happened is that I opened up my mind to new opportunities. So I didn’t get a job offer as such. Instead, someone who knew that I used to be a software developer referred me to their customer. The project was a one-off, and I’d be working in VB.NET. So for that one project I got back into software development properly, using the skills I’d been sharpening since the 1980s. And I realized how much I missed it.
I still love SQL Server, believe me. I still write a new blog post every week on my company site, and I was selected for the first time to speak at the PASS Summit in 2019, after speaking twice at the SQLBits conference. I have contributed to three different books (the third is currently undergoing technical edits), two of which are about SQL Server and printed by Microsoft Press. I was reawarded my data platform MVP by Microsoft for the third time in a row, which still staggers me to say, because I’m in the same company as people I have looked up to for so many years.
But it made me realize I was a victim of my own success. I had drawn myself so deep into a relational database world that I had forgotten there was a lot of other stuff out there, which was especially ironic given my interests in filmmaking and theatre.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have been called arrogant for mentioning these achievements recently. I think that perspective helps because it’s easy to get a big head about stuff. It may not have been my intention to brag, but that’s how I was perceived. It reminded me that when I got my chance at a small part in a network television show, I thought I was going places, and then I wasn’t.
So this post is to say thank you to everyone. First off, thank you to my husband for putting up with my foibles and flights of fancy. Secondly, thank you to the people who tried to get me work. Thirdly, thank you to the people who actually did find me work. Fourthly, thank you to the people who realized I wouldn’t be a good fit as a full-time employee, even if they did agree to let me work from home. And fifthly, thank you to the universe for being so interesting, and reminding me that there’s so much out there to do, see, and eat.
I wouldn’t have predicted my life as it is today, even if you’d asked me 15 months ago. I definitely didn’t think I’d be living in Canada, when I was talking about my future at high school in South Africa.
My friend Karen wrote recently that the only person you should measure yourself against is the you from yesterday. It’s pointless comparing against other people, and it’s pointless comparing against yourself from months or years ago. Just be better than you were yesterday.
Be brave enough to be kind. Be brave enough to own up when you make a mistake. Be brave enough to apologize. Be brave enough to ask for help. Be brave enough to help others.
And on a personal note, I need to be brave enough to do the household chores.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.