Goodbye, Hackbright

To: Hackbright Staff

From: lizTheDeveloper

Subject: Thanks

Hey people-

So, I wanted to write one of those sappy emails where I say "thanks for the opportunity to work with all of you" but that sounds boring as hell and not super like me. Instead, I'll take this opportunity to give something our students get but you've never gotten. 

Preachy Liz Speech Time.

Ladies, Gentlemen, and other carbon-based life forms-

I'm leaving something I care about a great deal in your hands. I'm doing this for lots of reasons, most of which you know. Because of this, I have to ask you to do something I don't have a right to ask you to do, because I'm not here to help you do it. 

I have to ask you to care more than you already do. I have to ask you to replace the caring I'll be taking with me when I go. This is important - Hackbright's entire infrastructure is built on caring and taking responsibility for things that aren't anyone's responsibility. Doing things we aren't paid to do, things we don't advertise we do, things we should reasonably expect not to have to do. 
I don't feel like this is news to you, but I do feel like it bears repeating. This request is to be mindful that the exhaustion, emotional drain, physical symptoms and general life instability is actually worth it. 

That what you have is something that can't be taken for granted. 

The community, the quality of education, the trust new students place in us cannot ever be taken for granted. They should be treated as borrowed, and the time that we're given to create differences in peoples' lives should be treated as a gift. We do change lives here, hearts and minds both. We make material differences, but we make inner changes as well. 
We have inspired courage where there was only fear. 
We have brought hope where there was only frustration and sadness.
We have created community where there was loneliness, isolation.

We did these things robustly- these changes are lasting, permanent. 
People's lives are different now and we did that together and it is something worth all of the hardship we face to do it. We're doing noble work and it shines through.

These things are things I worry about - things all of you will have to own and fight to continue. It is hard work. This is again, not news, but be mindful.

Be mindful of your messaging - you must tend to the flame of curiosity, and never allow it to diminish, or extinguish. This is most important.

Be mindful of your empathy - these are all people who have placed their supreme trust in us. It is absolutely your responsibility to be more inspiring than you think you can, more empathetic, more forgiving, and to try harder even through the frustration and personality problems that you may encounter. 

Be mindful of their community - it is not your community, it is theirs. They have to make it great, but they'll look to you for direction and advice. Be aspirational, rather than accepting reality as is.

Be mindful of what you can give. This is advice from me to everyone, from experience. Understand what is and is not sustainable, and where you fall short, communicate and ask for help. Not letting things fall because you are overloaded, overwhelmed, and feel unappreciated requires vigilance. Learn from my example.

Just be mindful. Learn. Self-reflect. Teach them to be the best they can, carry them when they fall and celebrate when they rise to the occasion. 

I know you can handle this. Just make the choices you mean to. Be the person you will have wanted to be. 

I expect to hear difficulty, but ultimately, I expect to hear you rise above. 

Liz Howard
Freelance Badass