This is my, oh I don’t know, the fifth attempt, maybe. My brother read the previous version and hated it.
“Difficult to read,” he said.
“No flow,” he said. “You sound like a robot.”
“I would delete it and write again.”
It was 2012, spring probably, but I will check. I had a dreadfully boring job as a programmer, and it’s difficult to have even a moderately boring coding job because we programmers really enjoy, you know, programming. It’s fun, it’s like puzzles for us, we do it in our free time, we talk about our projects with anyone who wants to know, we read blogs by other programmers where they show how they solved a very obscure pathfinding problem that we don’t need to know about because none of our projects use any pathfinding whatsoever.
And even if some claim that it gets boring after a while — sure, but I was not 2 years out of school, and you are not supposed to be tired of something you barely started. We worked on library systems — as in, systems to manage books in libraries. Those systems were mostly complete, written in Visual Basic some 20 years before, and we worked on a few low-priority features, I think, but I don’t remember much. I had wanted to move out of my parents’ house, so I took the first job offer I got, didn’t even negotiate the salary. Anyway, that spring in 2012 I was walking home, and I was so, so sad, hated the job and didn’t know a way out, there was nothing else I could do, and I was convinced that I hated programming in general not just that particular job, so I didn’t even try to find something new.
So, I was walking home, sad and depressed, and I did something that I am ashamed of to this day. I’ve never told anyone that till now.
I bought a lottery ticket.
If you think it’s nothing bad, and maybe you even buy lottery tickets some days, then that’s fine, but you probably don’t know the odds of winning, and you didn’t study math or computer science or statistics, right? But I did, I had extra math classes in high school, and then I studied computer science and there were a lot of math classes too and in my free time I did math puzzles for fun. My point is: I knew what the odds were. Or maybe I didn’t know the exact probability, but I could calculate it anytime. If someone woke me up in the middle of the night and asked me to calculate the odds of winning a lottery, I could do it. It happened, actually, my dietician asked me this once. Not in the middle of the night, but still, I didn’t expect a math quiz when discussing my low levels of vitamin E. She said something about coincidence and then added: “But if you buy a lottery ticket every day, you are bound to win once in your life, right?”. There wasn’t really a question mark at the end, she said it as if that was common knowledge. It sounded very unlikely, and I took a piece of paper and checked.
In case you wonder, even if you bought lottery tickets every day for 50 years, the probability of winning would be about 0,001. I don’t know about the lottery in your country, but I bet winning is just as unlikely.
Anyway, back to the story: sad, awful job, walking home, lottery ticket. The thing is, someone who knows statistics must be feeling lower than low to buy a lottery ticket. There’s no logic there, no excuse. Feel free to laugh. Don’t laugh at people who don’t know, though, tell them the odds.
After that, the days at work were even worse, and then something amazing happened. No, I didn’t win the lottery, I hope you didn’t think that.
What happened was that a colleague at work had a unique t-shirt, something with a drawing of a bus, and he told me that it’s from Design By Humans and anyone can submit designs there, and they select some for print and pay you. That was new. I have never heard about anything like it, never even heard about any business that paid for a singular piece of work instead of just hiring people and paying them a salary. I took a closer look at his t-shirt and I knew immediately that I couldn’t draw anything like that. But I checked that website and other similar ones and some designs were way better than what I could do, but a few were only somewhat better. I wanted to try to make a design for a t-shirt, it seemed doable.
So, the next few days I analyzed lots of t-shirt websites, read what people wrote about them on Reddit and such, and I made a plan:
- Eat cereal and save up half my income.
- Draw every day.
- After half a year have enough savings to quit my job.
- And then I would have another half a year to make designs and try to sell them before running out of money.
Seems solid? I thought so.
Just then, my boss sent me a humiliating email, so I quit.
By the way, I’ve kept that email just in case I ever start blogging, so that’s something for a future post.
The bad thing was that I had hardly any savings. But the most awesome thing was that after those awful months when I hated my life, I finally felt so alive, as maybe never before. I knew I had to draw, and I drew a lot. It was an amazing time, even though none of the designs that I made for the first few weeks got accepted anywhere.
But then one got selected and everything changed.