(So you know, this is a very long, very personal blogpost. But I needed to share. — Tee)
Back on March 13th, I posted this in a Facebook community dedicated to Destiny…
So…track with me, Guardians. I’m having a day.
I’ve been on the job hunt, a pretty aggressive one. My boss, because he likes me, gave me a heads up I was being outsourced. So I’m on borrowed time. In just over a month, I’ve sent out 170 resumes. No offers yet, but interviews are happening. Today, my wife almost broke me when she said “I know this is hard on you.”
I felt a little jolt like I was going to lose it…but I thought “No. Be a Titan. Dig deep and push forward.”
Destiny is not a perfect game, but its characters and its classes can be a source of inspiration. Yes, this has been really hard, but then I dig deep. When I don’t think I can dig any more, I play; and when I do, I think “It’s okay. I got this.” Maybe I don’t always, but I know I can rise up, and be brave.
Whatever life throws at you unexpectedly, be a Zavala. Be a Titan. Keep going. Keep at it. And if something gets in your way…go through it.
We’re going to be okay.
Be brave, Guardians.
We hear it in the game now and then: Be brave, Guardians. We’re told to stay the course whether facing off with Crota or Aksis in D1 or facing Leviathan challenges of D2. The Vex, the Hive, and the Fallen hit hard when they want to, but every time we return to our feet and push forward.
Then you have Real Life, and it can hit you much harder than any boss in the Solar System or in any video game out there.
Be a Titan
Within a week of posting my thoughts in that Destiny community about my unexpected job hunt, I had two of my websites — TeeMorris.com and this one — blacklisted for malware. I immediately took my sites to Dreamhost who proceeded to tell me their “support policies” had changed. It was now my responsibility to get these sites back online. They would figure out what I needed to do, and they would tell me, but they wouldn’t do it. This is, apparently, their new approach to tech support. While I know how to podcast, how to blog, and how to HTML and RSS, I know nothing about how to “clean” a site with malware. When I told them this, Dreamhost’s solution was simple: Turn it over to your IT department.
I’m a sole proprietor, but Dreamhost thinks I’ve got an IT department.
While you know this site is the host of our podcast, TeeMorris.com is the main destination I give people to know what I’m working on and what books are available. This website is key to my marketing as a writer, and now I had two sites down. I was reaching my fill of bad news.
Three days later, during a stream, I got a phone call from my mother. At six in the morning. If your mom is calling you at six in the morning, it can’t be good.
My father had suffered a stroke. A massive one.
At best, if he had opened his eyes, he would have been on a respirator, a feeding tube, and kept in a “facility” where he would be bedridden. If you knew my father, you would know that was not how he would want to live. Honoring his wishes, we said goodbye to him that weekend.
The closing week of March was hard. My dad was gone, my sites were down, and I had sent out my 200th resume. Adding to all of this, I had made it to the final interview for a job I really wanted. It would be an opportunity that could serve as a huge step forward for me on a lot of levels. Things looked good as the week of the final interview, I was contacted by the contractor involved and was assured “I would hear from them by Wednesday.” Wednesday came and went, and I was then emailed by the contractor “I would hear from them by Wednesday.” Again, Wednesday came and went. No acceptance letter. No rejection letter. Nothing.
It is now April…and I’m given my last day at my job: Friday the 13th. So on April 8, I say goodbye to my father at a memorial service, and then five days later, I lose my job. When I got home that night, I felt empty. I talked to a few friends, but not for long. I found myself second guessing my final interview for that job opportunity I wanted. I found it even harder to look at my family. I felt as if I had failed them, and I had nothing left.
The next morning, though, I was done. I had cried, I had beaten myself up, and I wanted so badly to talk to my dad again. I was empty. But I had said to my fellow Guardians back in March “Be a Titan. Keep going. Keep at it. And if something gets in your way…go through it.” That was exactly what I was going to do. I logged into Destiny for #TitanTuesday and worked through some anger, some bitterness, some sadness. I had to take control for my wife, for my daughter, and for myself. The more I played, the better I felt. Now that I’ve hit bottom, I could stand tall and find my footing.
It was time to push forward.
Be a Hunter
While I was playing, I was coming up with a plan to handle this job opportunity that kept me in the lurch. I wanted an answer. That’s it. I just wanted to know if I had landed this position or should move on to another opportunity. The Titan in me was ready to take the offensive and call the contractor. I had their number, and an open invitation to call in case I needed anything. Turns out I did need something: an answer.
One of my friends and gaming companions from the UK, Munch as he is known by in Twitch circles, recommended that the approach of a Titan might not be the best approach. I needed to adopt a Hunter’s strategy. Something more cunning, more clever. WWC6D — what would Cayde-6 do? Munch suggested I tell the people offering the job that the follow-up was “…also as a courtesy to them. I really did enjoy the interviews and wanted very much to sign with them, but now other offers were on the table. I was calling to see if I should wait a bit longer, or move on with my sincerest thanks for your time.”
“But Munch,” I said, “there are no other offers on the table.”
“They don’t know that.”
No, Munch. They certainly do not.
So, at the start of the day (after my morning stream) I called the opportunity, and told them I was still interested in the position but now other offers were coming in. If they wanted me, I would need a decision from them. The wait during the day was a long one, and still no reply came. I figured “Well, that’s that…” and then a text message arrived. “Out of the office all day on account of being sick. I’ll be in touch tomorrow.” Not “yes” but not “no” either. The following day, I waited as I had for the days before, only this time resolved that if I heard nothing by End of Business—5:00pm—that this opportunity would be done.
The call came at 3:00pm promptly. At 3:05pm, an offer was made.
Cayde would have been proud. So would have my dad.
Be a Warlock
The week of my father’s service was still a hard one, but now instead of leaving with uncertainty ahead, I had a more-than-concrete destination. I would be assuming the role of Communications Chief of Code.gov. This was a position much higher up the chain of command that I’ve ever held in previous jobs. This was “the chance” I had been waiting for, at least on the Day Job level.
The Titan had given me the strength to push forward. The Hunter, cunning to make decisions happen a little faster. Now, I needed the Warlock to prepare.
Warlocks are often given a lot of grief for their passion for study; but I would argue that from study, Warlocks learn from the great of the past, not only their victories but their failures as well. (Feel free to insert jokes about “getting carried” here.) Failures are anything but if lessons are learned, and I would learn from my own here. I knew plenty about writing blogposts, working social media, and handling communications of varying media (print, audio, video, digital) but when it came to Open Source Software I knew WordPress and Audacity…and that was it.
Time to hit the books.
The last time I purchased books like this, I was in college. Over twenty-five years later, and I was back into books on theory, philosophy, and opinions. I wanted to make sure I understood this particular battlefield. An impromptu visit to the office earned me another suggestion for reading material, which I jumped on. This was the time for my Warlock to study, to dive deep into the culture behind Open Source. It was my intent to be ready for my first week in the office.
Titans and Hunters can scoff at the Warlock’s scholarly discipline all they like. This is me, on Day Four as Communications Chief of Code.gov…
Yes, this is me, presenting at an event, on behalf of Code.gov, my Warlock’s discipline preparing me for what was to come that afternoon. I’m nearing the end of my second week with this initiative, and I am continuing to learn. I come home drained, I won’t exaggerate. I’ve slept better in the past two weeks than I have in all of February and March. The preparation was worth it. I am stronger. I am faster. And I am still learning.
That’s what Warlocks do.
Be Brave, Guardians
I’ve taken you there, and back again as it were; and maybe I got you wondering why. I’m here to tell you that no matter how dark, no matter how rough, no matter how hopeless your situation may appear, things will get better. I not only have Zavala, Cayde, and Ikora to thank for that, but I’ve also got the friends I’ve made in playing this game to thank as well. Call it the Lesson of the Vanguard, but I drew strength from my time playing this game. Sure, it is easy to just say “Tee, this is just a video game…” but I think of the people this video game introduced me, too. Some of them I knew before ever creating that first character, others I have met after giving Twitch a try. Each and every one of them, both consciously and unconsciously, played a part in getting me through what has been the roughest of patches in my life. For that, I am eternally grateful, and I want to pay it forward in appreciation of that. Life doesn’t really take a break. We all have good stretches and bad, and it is easier to take the downward spiral when the bad gets particularly powerful. I’m just here to remind you, Guardian, you’re not alone in this fight.
For my birthday last year, I got the Bungie bike jersey which I use to run in. On the back, just under the collar, it says “Be Brave.” It is a sentiment repeated often in Destiny and Destiny 2, but it should also serve as a mantra for us all. No, it is not always easy to be brave, but standing in the face of challenges and obstacles? The rewards are worth it. Things will get better, and you’ll be stronger on account of your efforts.
Eyes up, Guardian. Be brave.