No matter where you spent your 2020, you're going to remember it. Together we battled disease, racism, and murder hornets. As if life isn't difficult enough, the universe piled on a lot of difficulty this year. But, like every year before, it's finally coming to a close.
This is my first time doing a yearly review but it feels like the right thing to do moving into another year. Since I only have a finite number of them left, I might as well make sure I'm living them the way I want to.
Even though 2020 brought on so many challenges, it might've been the best single year for my personal growth. I live with more intention than ever before; it was a theme that kept showing up. I spend more time doing what I wanted to do, what was best for me, and doing it all with more awareness.
The Pursuit of Happiness
After releasing a few projects in 2019, I got pretty hooked on finishing over starting. Thanks to this feeling (and plenty of inspiration) I worked up the courage to quit my day job. Four years ago I proved to myself that I could make it as a software engineer. I went from self-taught to making $120k/year in that time. I became debt-free and was working at a company that many people would recognize.
But I didn't feel completely fulfilled.
Although I was proud of everything I accomplished in my career, my daily life wasn't rewarding. My daily work was draining me. When I built Wrabit I took a week off of work and put my head down. I was productive. But not only that, I felt alive. Most of Wrabit was built in that week and by the end of it, it was released. Once I released it, I couldn't look at my day job the same again.
It's a lot easier to complain about things you don't like than to act on them. My partner would likely tell you I complained about work a lot. Not because it was hard, or I wasn't making enough. I just didn't feel like I was being true to myself. So in March I decided to take the plunge. I quit my job to build another product, for my happiness, and my health.
It didn't go exactly as I planned but it made me feel fucking alive! Every moment of uncertainty was balanced with moments of pride, excitement, and coding flows. I learned about my weaknesses and some of my strengths. I finished something I started.
Quitting my job led to a journey of self-discovery that I'll forever be grateful for.
The Pursuit of Knowledge
After calling it quits on Bard, I needed to find the next stage in my life. The logical thing to do was start applying for jobs. I did apply for a few (Shopify, I'm looking at you) but never found a new home. With job opportunities looking uncertain, I decided to chase another dream of mine. One I never believed I could accomplish.
I decided to commit full time to school.
While working at Cisco, I was already taking computer science classes. There was progress but it was incredibly slow. Taking a degree one class at a time turns out to be pretty painful. My partner decided to go back to school so I convinced myself to make another huge leap this year.
When I tell other students why I'm working on my computer science degree, they often seem confused. I'm thirty years old. I've already worked as a software engineer for four years. Why am I in school?
Those questions are valid. As someone who never had the chance at university before, the reasons I'm getting a degree might be different than some of the younger computer science folks. I'm not here for a well-paying career.
I'm doing this to learn. You learn a lot working four years as a software engineer—you learn a lot about what you don't know.
I'm doing this to level-up. I've had a few great opportunities but I want to work at world-class companies. Companies that are moving humanity forward.
I'm doing this to prove I can. This year I've spent a lot of time trying to love myself. Part of that practice means believing in myself. I always told myself I wasn't smart enough to go to university. I couldn't overcome the fact that I dropped of out high school. Even though I always wanted to do this, I wouldn't let myself. Until 2020 nudged me in the right direction.
The Pursuit of Me
My year of self-discovery taught me a lot about myself. How to forgive myself for my past, how to embrace my true self, and be unapologetically me. Although I'm not an expert at it, I get better every day. Everyone is aware that we are given one life to live. Yet so many of us live our lives afraid to be who we are. In the end, money is renewable and time is finite. I've spent this year doing what I needed to do for myself and it's felt more rewarding than any year I can remember.
I plan to continue doing that into 2021 and beyond. I challenge you to do the same!
To close out, I'd like to list a few achievements I'm proud of this year.
- Quit my job to build a product
- Built my website (the one you're on right now!)
- Committed to going to school full time
- Gave a talk at React Vancouver
- Ran a half-marathon
- Completed Advent of Code 2020
- Exceeded my 2020 reading challenge
We should celebrate our victories more often, big and small. What're you proud of this year?