Mental health is important to me because it’s something that is with you every day. It’s not something you can “leave at the door” and pick it up on your way out. It’s everywhere and informs all your conversations and interactions. I lost my father to suicide when I was almost 5. Witnessing that shaped my life and as such I’ve made mental wellness a priority. I try to check-in with myself each day and ask how/what I’m doing is serving either mine or someone else’s mental wellness. It’s not always easily apparent and requires critical analysis, but I find this helps guide me to being happier and helping others find happiness as well.
Where I Started
I started learning to program when I was in elementary school in the mid 90s. I went to the librarian and asked them for something and they showed me Netscape Navigator and the new library catalogue system on the computer. I had barely interacted with computers before that as they weren’t common place then as they are today. I was instantly mesmerized and asked her, “How does this function?” She didn’t know, but she was able to find me some books on programming that they had available. From there, I went to the public library almost every day to use their computer and read/practice programming. I started making websites for fun for video game guilds I was in, MySpace customization (#throwback), and when I was 16 I started bartering website development for services. I used to get free hair dye and hair cuts in exchange for making and maintaining the website for one of the local salons. Hot pink spiky hair isn’t cheap, especially when you’re 16! From there, it just sort of evolved into freelance and then into a formal business in 2013.
Where I Am Now
I’ve been running my business, Ellytronic Media, since 2013. I founded it as a way to formalize my engagement with other nonprofits and businesses while providing flexibility in schedule while attending classes. Ten years later I’ve built really strong relationships with a variety of organizations and every day I get to work on a different thing. Like this site, for example!
Where I'm Going
To me, one of the hardest parts about being self-employed in tech is that it can be lonely. I’m currently exploring ways to bring more human interaction into my daily life. That might be hiring more people and creating a formal office, or maybe it means volunteering on the weekends, or getting a part-time job doing something I enjoy. The great thing about working in tech is that every field needs it, so you can often work wherever you like and you’ll always be an expert in at least two things: your work and the work your organization is doing.