The biggest career risk I've taken and how I found the courage take it - Saron Yitbarek, Code NewbiesFeatured
What's the biggest risk you've ever taken in your career and how did you build up the courage to do it?The biggest risk I ever took in my career was deciding to take medication for my anxiety and bipolar disorder. I’d been diagnosed with general anxiety and bipolar disorder a while ago, and I decided I wanted to try treating it through lifestyle changes instead of medication. I ate better, exercised daily, slept more regularly. Months passed, and things seemed, not perfect, but under control. Then I started getting panic attacks. They came more frequently. Sometimes, they were triggered, but often times, they seemed to come out of nowhere. For about two months, I had a panic attack almost everyday. I couldn’t get work done. Every time I opened my laptop, I felt my chest tighten, and minutes later I couldn’t breathe. I tried to brute force my way through it. Brute force has been my go-to strategy for a long time, and I tried to be strong enough and just push past, but it wasn’t working.If felt like medication was my only choice. The very idea of taking drugs filled me with shame. Often times, you feel worse before you feel better, and I told myself I was afraid of the possible side effects. But the truth was, I was ashamed that I couldn’t figure this out on my own. I was angry that my feelings were running the show, keeping me from being the clear headed, entrepreneur badass I wanted to be. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t keep my emotions under control.This doesn’t make sense. I graduated with a degree in psychology, and I’ve always taken mental health seriously. I would never judge someone for being on medication. In fact, I’d be proud of them for tackling the problem head-on. But for some reason, that logic didn’t apply to me. I felt like I was giving up. And I don’t give up.I started taking medication. I swallowed my pills with shame, and braced myself for the side effects. I was worried they would make me even more unproductive, would keep me away from my business even more. And in the beginning, it did make things harder. But once my body got used to it, it saved me. I’m more productive and more healthy than I’ve been in a very long time. And I can see the effects of it in my business.The biggest takeaway for me isn’t that medication is great, and to be fair, lifestyle changes and therapy were huge components as well. The takeaway is that the tools you love don’t always work. My tool was always pushing through. No matter what the challenge was, you put your head down and push until you win. That was always what worked for me. But then it stopped working. Accepting that and ceding control to something else was terrifying for me, but it allowed me the opportunity to grow as a person and an entrepreneur. It gave me a chance to try a new tool that ultimately helped my business as much as it’s helped me.Saron Yitbarek is a developer and CEO of CodeNewbie, a supportive community of programmers and people learning to code. On the CodeNewbie podcast she interviews incredible people in tech. She’s also a prolific public speaker and publishes a weekly personal newsletter. Prior to that she worked at Microsoft managing a new tech training program called Tech Jobs Academy.