Whatta Development!

Admittedly, I made most of this post on Instagram, but here it is again with some added details.

For context, I’ve always been interested in the internet and anything that could be digitally created. I loved the feeling of making something and seeing people use it. I loved being able to help people using tech whether it was by using it or helping them understand it. So when I joined the content operations team at my org, I found a lot of opportunities to help through automation, tool, and process improvements. This led to visibility among my peers and being asked to help with certain tasks or projects. Then, just over a year ago, I was given what felt like the most amazing opportunity of my lifetime.

I was asked to help create a new contact feature on our web portal and this allowed me to work with and join the engineering team. I still held my title as Catalog Specialist, but I was able to learn about the web and front-end development process within Amazon. I learned AngularJS and Java for the first time. I learned what unit testing was. I learned so much, but what I found most astonishing was how much I learned about myself.

A couple weeks ago, my manager sat me down and handed me the letter that read:

Effective December 1st, my role would move to a Web Development Engineer I.

I am officially a web development engineer.

Back in 2017, when I first started writing scripts and finding ways to help my original team, the idea of this possibility presented itself. The problem was that I was afraid to go for it. I didn’t think it could actually happen, so I hesitated and said I didn’t think I was ready for it. It wasn’t until I was told that creating a new position for our org would be too difficult that I realized how badly I actually wanted it. It honestly broke my heart a little, but I proceeded and continued to do my job as normal. I took the lessons and opportunities to learn as much and as often as I could.

The truth is, I was too afraid for the same reasons I was in disbelief of my title change. For the same reasons I thought about giving up multiple times in this last year.

I was afraid to take risks, make mistakes, fail, and to really live and face all of the messiness of being human.

Even after I move team in the system and my new manager fought to find me a new desk with the rest of the team, I didn’t believe it was real. I thought this was just a huge HR mistake someone made or would regret later. Someone really liked me or they felt really bad for me. I thought I fooled someone — I fooled everyone. Or I was really, really, really lucky. In the right place at the right time.

My mind was so scared of this opportunity.

Deep down I was convinced that this possibility of something I absolutely dreamed about happening wasn’t something I deserved or could have genuinely earned.

Then I checked the system today and guess what? It’s real.

It’s. Fucking. Real.

It was real for the last year, but it took the whole last year of change and growth for me to finally accept that this was real. It took therapy and the amazing support of my team, friends, and family. I am so thankful for these people. It took learning genuine self-care, boundary setting, and other tools to better cope with my constant fear and anxiety. It took a lot of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, but a lot of self-compassion and forgiveness.

I still struggle and I accept that I will continue to do so. There will still be negative thoughts of fear and anxiety that creep in. I will continue to fight off imposter syndrome. There will still be moments where I am too hard on myself. BUT I also accept that I am still growing. I am still trying. And I am still only human.

So tonight, I am reflective. I am happy and I am deserving of it. 💛

The ever-growing, never-ending list of ideas…in part…

  • The Awkward Commuter
    • a blog
    • a book
    • a podcast
  • Publish a book about my family and life and things
  • Freelancing as a web developer/designer
    • Freelancing on the side – a new project every quarter
  • Working part-time in a library
  • Volunteering regularly
    • Northwest Harvest
    • Park cleanup
    • Tree planting
  • Working for a film studio
  • Travel the world
    • Solo trip – New Zealand?
    • See all 7 wonders of the work…
      • Chichen Itza – Mexico
      • Machu Pichu – Peru
      • Christ the Redeemer – Brazil
      • Petra – Jordan
      • Coloseum – Italy
      • Taj Mahal – India
      • The Great Wall – China
    • Stone Henge
    • Pyramids of Giza
    • Paris, France
    • Philippines – family…
    • Italy – Venice, Rome, everywhere…
    • All 50 states
  • Climbing trips
    • Arizona
    • Utah
    • Colorado
    • Squamish
  • See the Aurora Borealis
  • A house by the water
    • A bay window/bench/reading nook and library
  • Meet my biological father…?

To be continued…updated…edited…forgotten…erased…hopeful.

Forgotten, but not abandoned…

Admittedly, I forgot my password for a while. I have had so many ideas or thoughts or random rambling or memories and reflections I’ve wanted to document. I just haven’t. Not because of the forgotten password. I knew I had it written down. I knew exactly where. I just haven’t made the time. I haven’t been committed to it. I’ve chosen and prioritized other things. I’ve lost touch with my self-care and boundaries and goals. Some days I’m very self-aware or in tune with the life I want.

But I forget to be ever present.

I forget that it’s ok to not have it all figured out. I don’t need to be living in the past or so far into the future. I don’t have to write a book or keep up with a blog. I don’t have to be a developer with a huge online presence. I just have to live my life and be in the moment.

Because when I get lost in the plans, the throes of social media, or the cruelty of comparison, I can become wildly distraught.

I get stuck in my head. And I’ve spent my whole life feeling stuck or trapped in my head and in my fears. My anxiety. I am aware. I am learning where these demons come from. And I am actively trying. Some days I have to try harder than others. Some days I just give in. I succumb to the darkness. But I have bounced back a lot quicker than I have in the past. I hope to continue growing and learning. Because I do have big ideas. I don’t have a well organized plan to execute these ideas. But the big picture idea…the plan is to take full advantage of this adventure called life.

Is that too cheesy?


But it’s honest.

The last couple weeks have been a lot of up and down. Not super stable feeling – but is it ever truly?

I didn’t even realize it until I got home the other day and said “man I’ve been feeling so off and clouded the last couple days”. Then my roommate pointed out that I’d been saying that for weeks. I’ve vented to my close friends and made comments that maybe I should start up therapy again. BetterHelp. Get more coping mechanisms for when I spiral into my personal void of despair.

Then the more I thought about it and gave myself time to be with myself, I came to a few major revelations. The biggest being that just over a year ago, around this time, was when I made some major changes in my life.

There was a shift in my soul.

Actually, the shift probably happened much earlier, but the changes from that shift I think started to happen around this time last year.

I was going through a lot of healing. I started a great form of therapy through BetterHelp. Although I identified a lot of my personal demons over the years, my childhood traumas, I didn’t actively start facing them and embracing them until that time. I started trying new things. I started focusing on what I liked. Who I liked. Who I was and am.

Boundaries. Something I didn’t realize I was lacking. Something I didn’t really understand until discussed in a way that referenced protecting your own energy. Respecting and understanding the energy of others. I’m not quite sure why that’s how it clicked for me, but I loved this revelation.

I am clearly still working through a lot of this. And this might even feel like a relapse in the last few weeks. Or maybe, just maybe, this is another sign of healing. Of progress. Having a sense of self-awareness and being able to bring yourself back is huge.

I believe that maybe my mind, body, and soul is just reacting from past trauma. Remembering how difficult and off-balance I was this time last year. This wasn’t something I realized could happen until I started thinking about grief — about the 1st anniversary of my grandfather’s passing. That’s when I realized just how powerful grief was. The impact trauma has on us.

When my Tatay passed away is when a huge part of me was completely crushed. A small part of me died along with him. My mind, body, and soul remembered that. I was at work when this massive wave of emotions hit me. I didn’t understand why I was in such distress. Until I realized the next day was the 1st anniversary of when everything changed.

The evening he passed was one of those pivotal moments in time that truly change you. December 2017 was my shift. Then that August was when things started to change and I was done hiding from the world in the comfort of my fears.

Life has been good. I have been making so much progress and I am constantly trying to keep with it. I am proud and in awe of myself.

I got a little lost and confused when this time of the year came around. I went back to old habits and fears. My mind, body, and soul were trying to use old mechanisms to protect me. Or do what it thought was protecting. It was what I needed at the time. But not anymore.

I am ok. I am happy. I am scared, but I’m not going to stop living my life because of it.

I am here and I am very much alive.

Thanks for sticking through to the end of my rant. I didn’t really have a plan for this post, but I enjoyed the process. I did want to make a list, another brain dump, of all these ideas and goals and plans I keep alluding to. Maybe organize them Marie Kondo style. Pile everything and only keep what sparks joy in my life or whatever it is she says. I’ll make that in the next post probably some time soon.

Until next time – Mara

15 days of being 25

I turned 25 on the June 10th. I’ve reflected and learned a great deal about myself in the last year alone. I am grateful. I have grown. I am supported. I am doing OK for myself even though there are moments when I might forget or disagree.

Honestly, it is OK to not be OK.

But, overall, I am happy. Content with life.

June and becoming 25 has already been full of firsts like…

  • seeing the Fremont Troll & Gasworks Park,
  • attending a concert alone – Parachute (for the 4th time),
  • launching my first project as part of the engineering team,
  • going on a (small) night hike,
  • learning to shoot a gun,
  • visiting a new state – Salt Lake City, Utah,
  • and, later this week, I signed myself up to go bungee jumping after years of talking about it!

I hope as the year continues that this list grows as I continue to. I know it will. There are so many things to look forward to, but most importantly I’m going to continue to work on myself. Continue to grow and develop and focus on my overall happiness.

I’ve spent so much of my life letting my fears and anxiety control my life. I haven’t taken the time to slow down and really listen to myself. Figure out what I really need. But I’m listening now.

It will be difficult, but every day I will keep trying my best because that’s the best I can do.

At 25, this is my year. I can feel it.

Me vs. Anxiety, vol. 249

249? Random number?

What about the other volumes?

Well, starting now, this will be how I document my severe bouts of anxiety and depression.

When I just can’t seem to turn it off. Or rather, I can’t find a light and turn it on. When I feel myself – mind, body, and soul – sinking into a dark hole. The more I try and struggle to climb out, the deeper I go. Increasingly clawing my way out. Reaching and grasping for anything and everything. Desperately wanting, needing, to find a reason for existence. When I just can’t seem to find it and it’s too hard to comprehend why I should keep trying to do anything. What is the point?! But then the anxiety makes it so that I’m too scared to consider the eject button or take action of any kind because that’s what the anxiety and depression do.

They are so terrifyingly dark and paralyzing.

I think I find myself in that place about 10 times a year. BUT I find my way out every time. Each time a little easier than the last.

So for each moment like that, I will document as a volume. Smaller random moments will be chapters within those volumes. Next month I’ll be 25, so will begin the new volume. Of course the numbers will be off, I would start at 251 instead of 250 and the timing will hopefully be more spread out as I learn to cope.

With that all said, I don’t mean to make anyone feel sad nor do I want or need anyone’s pity. This is meant as pure catharsis. Reflection and revelation. Even celebration as I’ve grown and learned and become stronger.

Some posts will probably be in the thick of it. No happy resolutions at the time. Just writing my thoughts and feelings down to help me process them. This is my brain dump afterall.

So, what prompted the first of ideally-not-very-many of these posts?

For context, I enjoy talking to people and interactions. However, I am highly anxious. After reading, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, I discovered perhaps I am not quite the introvert I thought I was. It’s very likely that I am living as a mis-labeled highly-anxious extrovert. I really depend on other people’s energies.

So imagine my difficulties with transitioning teams. Leaving the comforts of my old team that I’ve come to call family. I was able to truly feel myself around them. But now I’m just over half a year into this new team and I’m still struggling. Things have gotten a lot better. I have made massive strides and done well outside my comfort zone. It is a process. I have to accept that there will be these moments where I’ve taken a huge step forward only to be knocked back a few. This was one of those times.

A text from this morning as I vented to a dear friend from bed & already late to work:

“Yea. Idk what’s going on as of late. We had a team event last night and I’m having the hardest time relaxing and connecting with people. Replaying moments in my head. Feeling paranoid that nobody likes me. Etc.

I think I’m just trying too hard to be friends with everyone but idk how to talk to anyone and too scared to initiate or keep up a conversation.

I don’t really want to go to work today, but I left my stuff at the office.”

Last night, my anxiety got the better of me. Threw some gut punches and I swung back. Then this morning I was feeling the energy drain. I fell into that dark place. And I fell hard.

Then somehow I got myself out of bed. Into my car. Off to work. The whole time I didn’t necessarily want to die, but I didn’t necessarily want to exist anymore. But I was trying and that’s all that mattered. I am proud of myself.

Once I got to the office, I felt relief. I didn’t feel as much dread. Nothing was as bad or terrifying as my anxiety let on. I don’t know what I even expected.

But I faced it. Kind of.

I spent a lot of time with my old team to sort of recharge. I did force myself interact with some people on the new team though and I felt really good about it.

At some point, I even realized that it took me months before I could comfortably talk to or imagine myself being friends with anyone on my former team. This was the same, but with more things outside my comfort zone I was juggling. Not just with my social anxieties, but going through therapy, trying to exercise regularly, learning how to code better, and learning new systems, and new programming languages. I’ve been carrying a lot of shit and trying to hard to fit in. I forgot my own advice to just work hard, be kind, and do good things. The rest will come together if it’s meant to be. The key is to stay curious and keep learning. Each experience is a new opportunity to learn about yourself more than anything.

I’m especially proud because I feel like I’ve processed this one much faster and better than I have in the past. There is still a lot I need to work on. Things I still could’ve done better.

But I take note. I try my best.

And I move on as does life.


Where to start…

Two things.

Firstly, I genuinely have no idea how to start this thing. I have no real plan for once. No structure or outline.

I am just jumping in.

This is meant to be a fun, creative, messy attempt at documenting/processing my own life and random thoughts. The good and the bad. My anxiety is screaming at me like “what is the vision? what is the plan? how many posts a day? a week?! who is your audience? what is the theme?”

blah blah blah

Maybe this will be good for me though. Honestly I don’t know. I don’t have the answers to any of those questions.

I’m just wingin’ it

I’m sure I’ll start developing a plan at a later date, get overwhelmed, cry or at least tear up a little, and neglect this thing for a few weeks before coming back to it. All I really know is that I want to create things. I enjoy writing, or rather, I enjoy typing.

I have plenty of stories. I have a lot of thoughts that need to be written down so that I can process them better. And I tend to rant, but I don’t like to bother people with my rants, so there we have it.

Ta-da! A blog…

Secondly, I really like over-using ellipsis