A little over a decade ago my life looked very different. I was making just a few dollars above minimum wage. My wife and I had purchased a small, older home in a struggling neighborhood which we could scarcely afford. Our family was growing and along with it our financial struggles loomed large.
However, I was young, ambitious, and willing to work my ass off to improve my station in life. I was good with computers and eager to develop skills that would open doors. It was in this context that I started spending hours virtually every night developing the skillset that would eventually open the doors that lead to where I am today.
The photo at the top of this post was taken earlier this week as I started my work day from my back porch – sipping coffee, catching up on Slack and email, enjoying a cool morning, and listening to the birds greet the day. This picture is a good encapsulation of the ways my life has changed over the last 12+ years. The internet has been a tool that has provided me and my family with options, financial stability, and improved our quality of life.
My life has changed in myriad ways since I first started to learn about HTML, CSS, WordPress, SEO, and internet marketing back in 2008. The internet did not change my life all by itself. No person is an island unto themselves and no story is that simple. However, the internet and the access it can provide to education and opportunity has been a critical part of my story.
This picture makes me feel grateful.
I’m grateful that I had internet access, a natural ability to pick up technical skills, and that my interests and access came together at a time when I also had the time and energy to make use of them.
I’m grateful for a wife who watched me spend hours night after night, year after year, developing skills that must have seemed pointless at the time, yet supported me nonetheless.
I’m grateful for parents who raised me to be disciplined, dedicated, and self-reliant – skills that gave me the confidence to strike out as a freelancer for a few years when permanent roles were hard to find early on.
I’m grateful that things went the way they did.