Last year on New Year’s Eve, I was in Bangalore, sitting on my computer and talking to some people over the Internet about the best way to build a simple API server in vanilla Node. This year, I was in Devonport, watching the fireworks over Auckland, the city I now call home.
It’s been a year to remember - probably the biggest yet - and I’d like to take some time to reflect and thank a whole bunch of people.
In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.
One of the best articles I’ve read all year points to an important distinction between verb and noun, and how the verb (doing, making, building, creating) is considerably more valuable than the noun (a thing, a piece of code, a painting, a vase), even though that isn’t readily apparent when you first start doing something. I was a shy, introverted kid and young adult, and putting myself or something I made out there was emotionally akin to cutting my soul out and selling it at a market on Tatooine.
This last year saw me putting myself and my work out there, thanks to a lot of gruelling practice at doing a thing. It helped that the thing I am doing was something that I am deeply passionate about. It also helped that I had amazing guidance in both the technical aspects of the thing, as well as the soft auxiliary skills surrounding the doing of the thing, both of which I received during my time at Hack Reactor. A big shout out to the entire HR community, and the HRR3 gang. You guys are awesome, and I’m proud to call a lot of you friends.
Landing my first job as a real software engineer was a big deal for me. Finally everything that I had worked for was now legitimised. To the two amazing founders that not only took a chance on me, but gave me carte blanche to build a (very large) part of the product, I will forever be grateful for the opportunity. I learnt so much from them, about the world, technology, statistics, and what running a business is like. They gave me the confidence to push further, in everything I do.
I forced myself to write more code that was publicly visible, ask questions when I didn’t understand something, attend conferences & actively engage, teach people how to code, and I even gave a talk. All of it was terrifying, but the more I did it, the less shameful and small I felt. The more I did the thing, the less I worried about the thing itself and instead enjoyed the doing.
Don’t screw people and don’t burn bridges. Pick your battles carefully.
Nothing is all good, and this last year was no exception. Switching careers midway through your 20s and after asking your parents to invest a small fortune in your now redundant education is not a peaceful process. I knew there was a lot on the line, and I devoted almost all my time and effort into my personal growth and career. Naturally, this left me almost no time to put into relationships and friendships.
I burnt more bridges than I would’ve liked, and didn’t give my friends and partners the time and effort they deserve. If you’re reading this and you can relate, I’m sorry. A lot of you stood by me through it all, and I know I wasn’t the best company through a lot of it, so thank you.
Oddly, the few people I did actually get closer to this year were all in other parts of the world and/or country. Go figure.
I think sometimes parents and teachers fail to stretch kids. My mother had a very good sense of how to stretch me just slightly outside my comfort zone.
Anyone who’s reading this and knows my mother knows how accurate the quote above is. A few months ago, I had a fight with my parents which had been coming for a while (the fight is now a marker in time, called The Line). I realised the only way for me to fully roll with the momentum that had built up over the year was to leave home, and the country. So I quit my job, ended a relationship, and searched for jobs all over the world. Two months later, I packed my bags, said my goodbyes, and left for New Zealand*.
My parents have fiercely stood by me, throughout everything that I’ve been through, but that has never stopped them from pushing me to be better everyday. They are polar opposites in almost everything, except in their sheer intensity of being. I owe them everything I have, and I don’t say it often enough, but thank you Mom & Dad.
Look, I made a thing.
As far as I’ve come in the last year, there’s a long way to go. It’s a start, and I’m excited to keep learning, doing, & making things in 2016.
*The full story of that experience is too long to recount here, but it will be in a blog post of its own soon.