The Web Witch's Blog

Stephanie Stimac talks about the web platform, design, product management and life in tech.

Recomposed: Spring 1

A few weeks ago, I was sat in a conference room with two of my engineering managers talking about JWT tokens, session IDs and OAuth.

I am not an engineer and I don't pretend to be one. I have web development chops, but I loathe JavaScript and lean into my design background (CSS and the Cascade <3).

When I interviewed for my role at RapidAPI, I was asked if I'd ever worked with APIs or an API Client, I gave a resounding and honest "No...but I can learn." When I started at Microsoft, I didn't know what the web platform was and that it and browser engines were the reason I spent many nights of my experience design career trying to make things work across all different browsers with my design lead. I can learn and I did.

But I digress.

At some point during this meeting, I felt completely out of place. I am not this technical (I am technical in other respects), and I don't want to detract at all from the generosity of both my engineering leads. They would walk me through the technical architecture of things to help me understand. That sort of empathy in my career has been rare...genuinely taking the time to walk me through something after a meeting without me having to ask, or enthusiastically taking time to explain the details when I would ask.

I felt so out of place that I wanted to laugh, at myself, because for all my overthinking and attempts to plan things...sitting in an office in Berlin talking about authentication and backend architecture was not in my plan. Certainly not the plan of the web designer.

Because two years ago, I would not have had this anywhere remotely on my radar. Not even in my plan. Nor could the woman sitting there wondering how she wound up in Berlin discussing authentication options imagine she would find herself laid off a month later with 50% of the company.

I'm not unique. The amount of layoffs in the industry has been staggering. But after a week of processing, of ups and downs, I know something new and exciting is around the corner.

It's like when a relationship ends - you shouldn't think of it as time wasted, it's not. You grew in some way and while that pain can feel insurmountable, it will lessen with time.

In a very funny way, I went from feeling very alone in Berlin to having a support network. I now know many people who are no longer coworkers. We supported each other as coworkers exploring a new city because most of us are expats, and we'll support each other through this.

And so instead of a conference room, sat wondering how I ended up talking about authentication options, I'm sat in my apartment in Berlin's city center, with my windows open soaking in the spring warmth, listening to Vivaldi's Spring 1 Recomposed by Max Richter, wondering what comes next. Because something will. Many things will. The way my life has changed in just a year is unfathomable to the Steph six years ago, let alone the Steph two years ago.

"Everything ends, and it's always sad. But everything begins again too, and that's always happy."

Per usual, a Doctor Who quote to sum up my feelings.

Many things change, and some things never do. And that's life.

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