I can clearly remember the day I knew I had made a terrible mistake in entering the IT field...
I was one of those people who hopped on the IT bandwagon back in 1997. Back then the pitch was, "Get your MCSE and you are guaranteed to make at least $40/hour!" I gulped as I charged $8000 on my credit card for MCSE night classes and went all-in. I pretty much spent almost every waking hour the next few years either working or studying. I got my MCSE and a job doing support for Microsoft [IIS 4.0, Proxy Server 2.0 (Remember that?)]. I kept studying, and took a few more MS exams for the MCSE+Internet. I didn't know much about PC Hardware so I built my first computer and got my A+. Back in 1998 a couple of Cisco reps gave a speech at our training facility. They made it seem like if you got your CCNA the next question you had to answer was, "What color would you like your Porsche to be?" I bought a used Cisco 2501 router for $600 [I'd like to have that one back], studied, and passed my CCNA back in 1999. I kept going and passed the CCDA. I started studying for the Routing exam when I had this Moment of Clarity:
"What the hell am I doing?"
The past couple of years were a blur. I felt like crap. I was out of shape - I didn't have time for exercise. My love life had diminished to hooking up with this fat girl I knew from time to time - and that's when I had the energy. I had bounced around a couple of phone support jobs and disliked all of them. My co-workers were 99% beta males and 1% unattractive females. I had spent all this time and money and I hadn't gone anywhere.
By this time I was back at Microsoft doing Exchange 5.5 support as an "Orange Badge". Having an Orange Badge meant you were a temp and you were treated as if you had incurable leprosy by the "Blue Badge" salaried techs.
There was this one "Uber-Geek" who was hired in the same wave as a bunch of us. He wasn't just fat - he was Jabba the Hut fat. He had this condition that years later would have its own acronym.
FUPA = Fat Upper Pubic Area
I was mesmerized by the way the area from his waist to his crotch bowed out in a rounded, convex, shape. Back in 2001, I didn't think such a thing was possible [Was he shoving something down his pants?]. Sadly, this is no longer such an oddity.
Jabba was a pretty nice guy, but it seemed inconceivable he would ever enjoy sexual contact with a woman - unless cash was involved. If he ever did, he would have to be on his back because if he was ever on top there might be a manslaughter charge in his future.
Jabba didn't have any experience with Microsoft server products, and I don't think he ever did support. But he took to everything like an alcoholic takes to malt liquor. His enthusiasm for computers was boundless. He was happy to be at his desk all day. He didn't seem to feel any pressure even though our calls were always stressed users with major e-mail disasters. He thrived while I withered.
One day we had this early morning meeting. Jabba came in and said this which forever shook my world:
"Man, I was up all night long studying Exchange. I realized that if I went to sleep I wouldn't be able to wake up so I started watching old episodes of Babylon 5 until it was time to go to work."
It was then I knew I could never win. The jig was up. Checkmated. The IT illusion shattered.
It didn't matter how much time and effort I spent studying. I could never beat the Jabbas of this world. While I liked computers, Jabbas of the world LOVED computers and they would forever be the love of their lives. I then realized that the treadmill of studying and certification was endless - that in order to be good in this field you have to spend as much time studying as a doctor does.
That to be really good in IT...
You have to not care about exercise and let your body go – that early onset Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Morbid Obesity aren’t health concerns – they are badges of honor in the IT world.
You have to give up dreams of a satisfying love life.
You have to spend all your time studying, reading, and thinking about IT.
You have to be prepared that you will have a pony tail someday.
You have to have no hobbies or other interests.
You have to realize that time spent not looking at a glowing rectangle is time wasted.
You have to avoid eye contact with others and that social etiquette is for "civilians".
You have to start wearing polo shirts with some random tech company logo on the front - and a white T-shirt underneath to complete the "asexual geek" look.
You have to slump your shoulders in order to get the telltale "mighty humpback" and look like the life has been beaten out of you.
You have to have a cell phone attached to your belt buckle and a bluetooth ear piece in case anyone has to know what TCP Port 563 does at a moment's notice.
You have to realize that telling a woman, "I work in IT" kills sexual attraction faster than saying, "I have herpes".
You have to worship at the altar of IT by putting your genitals in a jar, much like a eunuch, monk, or priest - and instead of chasing girls, dedicate your life to more useful pursuits like "The 3 Phases of PPP Session Establishment".
I was lucky to escape the "Geek Matrix" by going down a wormhole and doing IT work for the Military overseas, but that is another story...