Something Bittersweet

In 2014 I decided to switch careers as a person who was below the poverty line and in their mid 30s. I met some incredible people, most of whom have gone on to have great careers; lots are senior software engineers, some have had success in multiple software roles. Some even got to party with top engineers from Netflix in San Francisco on a rooftop and get keynote speaker slots at well known conferences. Others have worked at Big Tech and have made a difference while doing so.

All of the engineers I speak of are Black in Tech and I love it. I am, too. But as I watch my friends go on about their business, I celebrate with sincerity; I could not be happier or prouder of the folks I made this journey with, I am also cognizant of my eternal struggle of just living daily while actually wanting to be on this earth willingly.

The hands we’re dealt

No one asks to be born. We just were. And no child asks to be born in the circumstances I found myself to be born in.

To be in those circumstances and to even be alive at the age I am is almost unheard of. For me to not be in jail or dead is to be celebrated. For me to have rented my own home while making 6 figures, even though it was only for a year, is to be lauded and given as a testament to human resilience. At the same time, I watch my friends soar and I realize that, as much as I have fought my entire life against the thought that some of the barriers I have had to overcome are not ones they have had to overcome. We all have our shit, all of us. We overcome that shit the best way we can. But for some of us, our brains just don’t give a fuck and will try to end us from the moment we take our first breath until the moment we breathe our last. And it isn’t anyone’s fault. There isn’t anyone to blame.

Vague I know

My friend who also suffers from similar things and I were at a restaurant a couple years ago. He had his arms crossed, staring out the window.

I am sipping on my coke when he blurts out: it’s not fair. This just isn’t fair. You know?

Yes. I do.

And the callousness of saying to someone who’s brain chemistry makes it hard for them to not want to suck on a pistol regularly that life is unfair, while true, isn’t helpful. Shit, we know this. It doesn’t make this shit hurt less.

You want to live like a productive member of society. Despite popular right wing rhetoric, no one wants to be given a handout, a handout that keeps you buried below the poverty line, lining up at food pantries, and hopping from project to project. No one wants that. If folks like me who don’t have the advantages I’ve had in life, in spite of the fact my life has been like an episode of 48 Hours and Dateline, would be given the choice of working and being able to actually live a decent life and not working and lining up at the food bank, I assure you that 95% of those folks would pick working every fucking time, no matter the bullshit Fox News keeps telling your parents and grandparents.

I guess what I am saying is it hurts to see people thrive, knowing that if you had a better, no, healthier fucking brain you could thrive in the same way and you just can’t, through no fault of your own. It feels like you’re dying on Groundhog’s Day and there’s not a fucking thing you can do about it…