Why I’m thankful my website was hacked

Downtown Merida (Yucatán, Mexico)

About six months ago our Culicurious site was hacked via a faulty plug-in and taken over by internet misfits. In the end, we were lucky–we reclaimed the site within a week, and it only cost us about $400 to scrub the malicious code from our sites (the malware spread to all four of our sites because our directory site was hacked). This incident also cost us about a week’s worth of time to resolve the matter and much hair pulling and frustration on top of that. Truly, it’s something we hope to never experience again.

But wait, didn’t you read that title right? Wasn’t this supposed to be about how the hacking was a good thing? Yes, you read that right, and yes, I’m thankful that it happened. This is why…

Over the course of the many hours I spent on the phone, waiting on tech support–feeling helpless and frustrated–I got to job searching. Mind you, this was back in mid-October when Jeremy had been out of his engineering job for six months, and we still didn’t have a reliable income source to replace it–my super awesome sounding part-time job with my former ad agency never materialized as it was supposed to so we spent much of the second half of 2016 living off of our savings account. Good times!

In that moment, job searching felt like the one thing I could do to empower myself, amidst so many other ways that my hands were tied. In the late summer, after something thinking, researching, and soul searching, I’d decided that being a virtual assistant (VA) would be my next career move. It seemed like an effective way to make money and utilize my professional skillset, but before this hacking period, I hadn’t yet acted on it–there was no impetus yet. However, in the course of my seemingly never ending hold time with our web host, amidst my mounting frustration, I finally googled “virtual assistant jobs.” Much of it was low paying work, but I struck gold: a fresh listing on LinkedIn for the CEO of a small tech start-up who needed an executive VA. Of course, I jumped on the opportunity and applied.

Long story short, because I was one of the first 10 people to apply for that job, my submission was noticed, and I was granted an interview. I aced the take home portion and ultimately was offered the job. Today I’m six months into working for my first client, and in that time he’s referred me to one of his colleagues so now both of my clients can be traced back to the website hacking debacle. To top it off, I jumped right into executive VA work, which is some of the highest paying and best quality VA work out there.

It’s fascinating to me how these things seem to always work out. In the last few years, I’ve noticed and made it a habit to look for the good in the bad things that happen. Almost universally for me, when something goes wrong, there’s at least a kernel of something bigger and better included in there. Jeremy and I have seen it play out many times in our lives so we’ve started keeping our eyes open for it: where’s the silver lining going to be? What good will come out of this crappy situation?

Granted, when I’m down in the shit and things are going wrong, it can be difficult to be so high-minded about looking for opportunity, but given enough time, I’ve seen something positive come out of most of the negative happenings in my life. It’s the whole “door closing, window opening” type of thing. Sometimes a straight line can be drawn, as in this case. Other times, it’s a more zigzagging path, such as how both Jeremy and I separately going through Hurricane Katrina ultimately lead to the circumstances of us meeting. Pre-K, neither of us intended to be on the path that allowed us to meet. But four years after the fact, we did end up meeting, and we can each draw that line back to our lives diverging from that fateful period.

Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m not a Pollyanna and I’m not saying that every bad thing happening leads to something good. I know that I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had it happen so often in my life. What I am saying here is that when something less than ideal happens, there may be a sliver lining that’s not yet evident. Most people don’t take the time (or have the wherewithal) to connect the dots, but I’ve noticed that when I’ve taken the time to do it, I find some of the greatest blessings of my life. It’s an interesting way to practice gratitude, too!

So yeah, my website getting hacked ended up being a positive thing for me. I now have a career I enjoy, working for two great clients, making excellent money. In fact, I’m making most of the money we need to live quite comfortably–Jeremy’s making the rest with his editing work. We even switched to more secure hosting for a fraction of the price we paid before. Looking back, I’ll call this a total win. All it cost was a week of time, some inconvenience, and $400. In hindsight, all of that seems a small price to pay for what we have now. The hacking incident was the catalyst for great changes in my life. It made me stop and look for something else, and when I did, I found it. Pretty amazing.