I've been having kind of a rough time fairly recently. Years of overworking myself have led to some mental health issues that last even when life has calmed down, and the road to recovery isn't usually a straight line of progress upward. Some good days, some bad days, overall upward though.
So I was tempted to cancel today's meeting. I didn't. It was with a young woman who had asked to come see my office. While she was telling me a little bit about herself, I found myself drifting into my thoughts, feeling the anxiety creeping in again.
"So I got inspired to be a programmer by a man who talked to me about apps at my gas station job." That snapped me out of my thoughts a bit.
"Kids where I live often have parents who can't take them out to do things. They can't afford to, or they're working nights and all the time. And there are too many shootings, and there's trouble caused. I want to use programming to help lift those kids in my neighborhood out of these bad situations."
"I didn't go to college, I don't have a programming background. But I believe I can do it. I know I can do it. I know I can build this app, and support myself, and help people."
We came up with a design for the app, I showed her the VR demos I've been working on and walked her through the code for them, I explained that my business partner grew up in a rough neighborhood and never went to college as well and now he's very successful. I explained that I didn't know much C++ before starting my first job and I was able to pick it up. I told her she could do it and I'll help.
Recently I helped another young woman who had not done much C++ put together a C++/VR demo. It didn't take that much effort.
In fact, it was a very similar situation. On days in which I was feeling bad and not myself, coming in and working on some C++/OpenGL and hearing her enthusiasm for it all lifted my spirits and reminded me of why I love this too.
We showed it off at a VR meetup. When a man asked what this demo was about, I told him, and before I could finish he takes a 180 degree turn and all he has to say is, "Got to go, I am hiring this woman."
I love thinking about simple actions we can take that lift others up, especially to lift people up out of poverty. There are so many. And it's not just about others, but so healing for me as well.