work work work work

I was 25 1/2 years old. I'd had a good run at my first true shot of a career out of college, working at my dream company from childhood of Nortel. When we'd come to Dallas during my teenage years, we'd pass the Nortel campus on 75 and I'd admire the very large Christmas wreaths they put out at the time. 10 years later, I worked in that same building along 75. Hello, manifestation!

I left that good position to follow something my naivety thought might miraculously turn out well. It didn't. And I wouldn't change it for the world. Sometimes, you need to get beat down so you can build back up. On November 8, 2010, I started my first day at what is now known as the CPSD division of Dell EMC. These letters, aside from the word Dell, probably mean nothing to you. Back then, it was a project known as Acadia, then a few months later, VCE. VCE is where I grew up, where I discovered and built who I am now.

When I started, I was about 40 lbs lighter than I am now, and was literally starting fresh, after a very educational and character building pseudo-relationship ended and I was back safely, happily and gratefully in Texas. I had work experience, very little money thanks to a loan from my cousin, and eagerness to make my path in this new company. I was awkward, quiet and playing by the unknown rules. There was free beer in the fridge, a single coffee pot my boss had brought from his house and we had to pay for sodas. The office didn't yet have desk phones or wifi, and the iPhone was still very young. 

Life was easy, in comparison to what it had been for months prior. I only had to work 40 hours a week? Totally doable. I'd spent the first half of the summer renovating a row home in Baltimore, quickly dwindling what savings I had to nothing. At one point, I had a single dollar to my name. About midway through that summer, I hit the street and physically applied for jobs. I landed one at Target in the Annapolis store, and a second as a mall cop at the Annapolis Mall. For the next two months, I'd work 80 hours a week and sleep an average of 3 hours each night. I developed a love and appreciation of coffee that summer. I also made some very good friends, in a group of guys that are some of the best humans I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I went to Annapolis beaten down and discouraged, in a controlling situation and came out of it with the confidence of my truer self and friendships that were a saving grace. 

When I started at VCE, I had no idea what it was or what it would become. I just knew I needed a fucking job and it was an offer extended to me. Once I left Maryland, I moved back in with my parents for about 6 weeks. I'm forever appreciative of their generosity and hospitality, and enjoyed the time with my friends and family in my hometown, but it's definitely not where I feel at home. 

I was the older of the younger crowd that were hired during that time period, and have enjoyed watching others blossom into their professional selves in a vibrant and crazy startup culture. 2010-2011 was a blinding fast period of figuring out processes, people and my new self. In 2012, I was off and running. I was on a plane much of that year to London, Boston and Ireland with the very real possibility of relocating to Cork, Ireland. Everything was set, less one final approval that never came. 2012 was a year I will always remember fondly, spending time working in another city and country is a profound experience I wish everyone could have in their lifetime. I worked during the day and was a tourist on the weekends. It was amazing. London is a special place in my heart ... the people, the food, the energy, the beauty, the old with the new ... gosh. It's such a magnificent place in the world and in my soul. 

The next couple of years were filled with more travel, to Ireland, Singapore, Boston, Atlanta, Orlando, Aruba ... while Aruba was a work trip, it was a working vacation. I don't know how, or why, but I was invited on the annual club trip with the top sales people and executives. I was a nobody, a lowly peon on the corporate totem pole that had started the blip of an upward trajectory in the corporate world. It was a trip I will never, ever forget. Getting to experience something like that, to someone like me, it made me feel validated and appreciated and seen and heard. I took my mom on that trip. While I can literally never repay her or make up for producing me, raising me, going through all the shit I've put her through, I wanted to some how thank her for being a good Momma, and to show her that I was doing okay in life, despite her worries of my tattoos and short hair.

I can't imagine raising a little tomboy lesbian child was easy in a very small southern town of 1000 people, and letting that little naive child out into the world was probably scary as hell. Part of my drive to do well, to set a good example for others, to be successful is based in wanting to show my parents that they did an okay job. Other parts of it come with wanting to prove the mainstream status quo wrong. Be true to yourself, do the right thing, be a kind person and always choose love ... and most of the time, MOST of the time, you will be quite alright. 

Buyouts and changes in executive management in the last couple of years have led me down the path of exploring passions externally of the corporate world, as this is no longer a source of my happiness, joy, excitement and enthusiasm. For a very long while, work was my identity. It was my core, it was what I looked forward to the most. I was jazzed to go in each morning and work late each night. Leaving early felt awkward and strange. Work gave me a sense of purpose, belonging and meaning. It was where I made friends and fulfilled my need for social connection. It was where I learned and fine-tuned how to talk with people, how to listen, how to speak publicly, how to stand up for myself and speak my mind, how to manage time and multi-task. I can say I've successfully participated on 3 conference calls at one time. Check, check and check. 

My dad has always had side hustles in addition to his day job, and I am no different. I have my day job here at Dell EMC, and 3 side hustles. One, two or all three will pay off in exponential sums in the future, and for that, I am excited and extremely honored to be able to even be in the same realm of the people that are involved. I often ask myself, would 13 year old me be proud of adult me? The answer varies, day by day, but overall is a solid yes.


Live Good, Live Well