A Year in Review
2020 has probably been one of the most eventful years of my life. Not only have we had an insane election and a pandemic to live through, but I've also had a lot of changes in my life as well. As we head towards the close of 2020, I wanted to go through the different things that have happened this year and reflect on them.
January and February
The first two months of this year were mostly dedicated to me finding a new place to live. I was lucky enough to find a wonderful room to rent with some of the best roommates I've ever had. We are all artsy, eco-friendly nerds who much prefer to stay in instead of going out. We all also are musical in some way and I've really enjoyed our bonfire jam sessions that we've had throughout this year. They have really been a great way to just ignore the rest of the world and to have fun during these crazy times.
At the end of February, I was getting ready to take the Admin 201 exam and I was making sure that everyone knew about it in my company. A tip I learned a long time ago is if you want to do something, make sure everyone knows. It helps you get opportunities because other people already know that you are open to them.
One of the admins at my job who had been helping me with my studies came to me and let me know she was about to leave. She asked if I wanted her position and I told her I would be open to it but I hadn't passed my test yet. She assured me that it didn't really matter and she said she would speak to our VP about it. The next thing I knew, my VP and mentor at the time and my current boss started talking about my transition. Three weeks later, everything would change.
My first week of being an admin was very surreal. I was in the same building as before, but the environment in the Dev room (or the Hive as we call it) is completely different than customer service. There are way fewer people and it is a lot quieter. I was in a weird place of knowing how to do things technically, but also not sure of where my place was and what I was supposed to do. The good thing about my new team is that I have two people who have been in the ecosystem for over ten years to help guide me in the right direction.
At the same time, my car had broken down, so my partner was driving me to and from work each day and this definitely added to my first-week jitters. Thanks to some help, I was able to get a car within two weeks. This was on my list of goals for the year since I knew my old car was in its last days, but I thought I still had a few months' worths of saving that I could do. If I didn't have the help that I did, I have no idea how I would've gotten that car.
After just one week, we were all sent home to work. I thought we would be at home for maybe a couple of months and if you would've told me that I'd still be at home for over a year before we would go back, I wouldn't have believed you. Being new in a job and working remotely can be very difficult and there was a lot of trial and error before our team really figured it out.
##April and May
April and May were focused on getting my certification. I studied during any free time I had and took a few practice tests to figure out where my weaknesses were. I used that information to go back and retake some of the trailhead modules and I feel like this is how I passed the first time.
In May, I finally took the test and passed on the first try. It was late at night and I bust out of my bedroom, dancing around like a crazy person 'I passed, I passed, I passed' I kept yelling at the top of my lungs all around the house. My roommates thought I was crazy, but they were really happy for me. My family was extremely supportive and they were proud of me for completing my goal. My partner dedicated an entire weekend to celebrating in the ways that we could at the time. It was a wonderful time and I'm so grateful to everyone that helped me get there.
At the very tail end of May, I was walking to my partner's place and when I got there I had to sit down because I was really out of breath and tired. My partner works in medicine and he took my vitals and my heart rate was 144 (normal is between 70-100). I went to the urgent care who sent me in an ambulance to the ER. After a lot of testing, no one could figure out what was wrong and I was sent home with instructions to see a cardiologist. It was very scary for all of us because we didn't have any answers.
##June, July, and August
Georgia was going between being partially locked down to being open and BLM was in full swing here in Atlanta. I tried to reach out to all of my friends who are directly affected by everything going on and we had a lot of heart-to-heart conversations and I learned a lot. I wanted to make sure that they understood that I was by their side and that I supported them in every way. The way our city handled everything still weighs hard on my heart and I have forever been changed by these late-night conversations with my friends.
In June, I finally saw a cardiologist and I had an echocardiogram done and had to wear a Holter monitor for two days to watch my heart rate. Both tests showed that my heart was perfectly healthy, but it was still going into tachycardia (when your heart beats too fast) during inappropriate times. I was exhausted all the time and I basically felt like I was constantly running a marathon. I had a hard time doing anything that required me to be out of bed and upright. Walking for just five minutes wiped me out. I could barely stay awake for more than five hours at a time (thank goodness for my hour lunch break) and I was afraid of doing anything too physical because I didn't know what was wrong. My doctors start suspecting POTS, but with only one specialist in our state, it would take time to actually know. I just started changing my lifestyle as If I had it and it helped with my symptoms.
In August, I turned 29. My partner took me out to eat but there was no big fanfare this year. I realized though that I didn't really miss the parties and all of the different social events that I usually go to. Small talk has never been my strong suit and without a diagnosis, I didn't feel comfortable standing in a room for an entire night.
I also begin my personal training journey. I was very very out of shape, but I had read that exercising on a regular basis could help POTS patients gain more mobility and decrease their symptoms. I really didn't have the money to afford personal training and I had to change a lot of things in my budget to be able to afford it. POTS patients have to work out in a certain way through and I wanted someone who knew what they were doing to guide me. On our first session, I couldn't do a plank for more than ten seconds and could barely walk.
##September and October
In September, I started thinking about starting my own blog. I had started becoming more active on Twitter and I really loved reading everyone else's content. I knew that I needed more certifications, so I was doing all of the research I could to figure out which ones needed to be on my list. The hard part about this is that everyone has a different path in Salesforce so there isn't really a right answer.
I was also interested in learning how to code after a conversation with our Senior Dev. I never thought that coding would be something that I would be interested in, but after he described problem-solving and the way it is actually very close to creating art, it seemed like something that I could do. I started learning on free code camp and I found it really fun.
In October, Courtney Cloud was born. I bought my first ever domain and signed up for Hashnode and well you're reading it now. I really enjoy writing and I enjoy being able to connect with different people all over the world with different interests. In the early days of my learning how to code, I really needed this support and the advice that I received (I still do). Coding is fun, but it is a lot of work and it's a completely different way of thinking, so it's very useful to have people that have done it before to talk to.
After the blog only being up for three weeks, Mike Gernholdt reached out to me to see if I wanted to be on the Admins podcast. I was extremely excited and nervous. I had always wanted to be on the podcast, but I thought it would happen much later in my career. Mike made the entire process super easy and I had a really great time recording. I really caught the podcast bug and now I want to be on as many as possible.
In November, we had the crazy election which is sadly still causing a lot of craziness in our lives. I was so happy for it to finally be over, but I think we all know how it's turning out. The week of the election, the podcast dropped and everything changed. My blog received hundreds of more views from people all over the work and I gained over 200 more Twitter followers.
I started receiving LinkedIn and Twitter messages from people everyone wanting advice on how to make the career switch into Salesforce. I've had so many wonderful conversations and made a lot of new friends. I'm extremely grateful to Salesforce for changing my life in so many ways this year and this was one of them.
My family decided to go to Florida last minute for Thanksgiving (just a few of us) and it was much needed after being in the same four walls all year. It was a challenge because it was my first time working outside of my home, but being able to put my toes in the beach water on my lunch break made me realize that this type of lifestyle could be for me. You hear about digital nomads all the time, but it always seems so unattainable, and here I was in a different state, doing the same thing. I'm not sure if this is the direction I want to go in, but I know that I want the option to do so. This trip was really good for my family and me.
We are currently still in December, so I'm not sure yet what my key takeaways are yet. In the first week of the month, I finally had my tilt table test and I was diagnosed with POTS. POTS is a disability that causes your heart rate to go up high when you are upright. After months of not knowing what was wrong, it feels really nice to have it on paper.
Thanks to my amazing trainer, I am doing much better. I can now run for 60 seconds, do a plank for over a minute and I can lift 95 lbs. I've gotten so much better in a short period of time and it wouldn't have happened without her.
This year has been challenging but it has also been extremely rewarding. I have been out of my comfort zone for the majority of this year and I feel like I have grown so much as a person because of it. I am now more confident in myself and I truly feel that there isn't a goal that I can't reach if I work hard enough for it.
I'm so incredibly grateful to the Salesforce Ohana, the wonderful mentors at my workplace, and my family for their support and kindness during this trying year. If anything, Covid has shown me that we need each other more than ever.
I hope that you and your family are doing well this year and I hope that you all have wonderful holidays and a happy new year.