This may be the first time that I am writing a year review before the year actually ends so it is a good sign. Also, It’s really hard to create blog post titles so I decided to go dramatic. I had a couple of goals for this year. I wanted to work on my wellbeing, do a talk at a meet up, go to the gym and declutter. I’m happy to share that I did more than that.
This was a long year and lots happened during it. I started 2018 by joining Hactar.is and I am so happy to say that this was the first Christmas that I wasn’t thinking about searching for a new job. I finally had a Christmas break where I was relaxing and not thinking about work.
It’s been a year of unexpected learnings. For example, I learned that when I’m happy in my job, my mind starts looking for other things to be worried about. Surprisingly, this led me to do therapy for my anxiety and my confidence.
I’m very lucky and privileged to have been able to do weekly sessions and it was, without any doubt, the most well-invested money I spent this year. I was able to talk about and rationalise emotions and traumas I’ve had that I never dealt with and I feel like I got to know a side of me that has always been quiet. Doing these sessions led to different consequences especially around relationships and confidence. Had it not been for those sessions, the majority of the things I’ve done this year wouldn’t have happened.
Global Diversity CFP Day
In February I signed up for the Global Diversity CFP day workshop in London. I had set my mind to do a talk at a meet up and I wanted to learn how to propose myself for it. To my embarrassment I ended up crying in it. I felt overwhelmed and ashamed of myself. My mind was telling myself that my bio wasn’t great and that I don’t have anything interesting to tell people. I was bottling up these feelings and when it came to the last exercises I couldn’t stop the tears falling from my face. I didn’t have anything technical. I wasn’t coming up with anything revolutionary or brand-new. I felt as if I was wasting everyone’s time. Inside my head I can’t thank Sareh enough for being incredibly supportive on that moment that I broke down. Despite everything, when I arrived home I had a bio and a shy idea.
Sometime in June I saw a tweet saying that Codebar Monthlies were asking for volunteers and I decided to apply. It felt adequate because I was grieving with emotions related to things that happened to me in the beginning of my career and, to me, I see the Codebar project as a community that I wish I had found when I was a junior developer and I wanted to contribute to it. Little did I know I would actually gain so much from it.
Long story short, in the last 2 years, without me realising, I lost my confidence in communication tasks such as emails. I used to be full hands on but in the last two years I began to question and doubt everything I would write and it became an extremely anxious task. I couldn’t even reply to emails from my neighbours. I would re-read many times and then give up and ask my boyfriend to do it instead of me.
I only realised how bad it got when I had tasks at Codebar that involved approaching venues to host and I was in panic and feeling anxious. Although the team had prepared a couple of email templates that did help out to start, I still would have to follow up on conversations and make decisions! After a couple of months, when I was approaching venues to the career panel that I was co-organising, I realised that I was replying without hesitation and booking venues for the following year. This is something that I wouldn’t have done just a few months before. The side of me “that gets things done” was coming out so quickly and had it not been for me volunteering it may have not come out!
In December I signed up as a coach in a Codebar Workshop for the very first time. I was so nervous… for nothing! It was as relaxing and as welcoming as people say it is. I learned a lot from it especially around my choice of words when explaining something to a code newbie. I’m looking forward to doing it again next year!
This was the year I attended the most conferences: All Day Hey!, CSSConfEU, State of the Browser, IndieWebCamp (I think it counts as a conference) and FFConf! When I was in the State of the Browser I looked around me and noticed that I was seeing many familiar faces but also became fully aware of the fact that I have been carefully picking conferences that I perceive as friendly, inspiring and welcoming and not necessarily attached to particular languages in the front end domain. There were particular types of talks that I really connected to. I started to grow confidence to admit that I know that I can look up technical stuff anytime via any search engine or a book. Technical talks are amazing, yes…but they were going straight to my brain… whilst some talks were going straight to my heart.
This year I saw one talk that makes me smile every time I think about it: Tim Holman’s at FFConf. It was exactly what I needed to see and it happened at the same time I was doing my talks at meet-ups. It really inspired me to embrace this dormant side of mine of things that I love that can be side projects. I’ve been telling myself “your side project doesn’t have to be an npm package or a future mini start up” but seeing Tim’s talk and laughing along side everyone really solidified this thought. We should be embracing our experiments and not do “CV driven development” (stole this one from Charlie’s awesome talk at State of the Browser and FFConf).
(PS.: All the conferences mentioned were 10/10. Do look up their videos).
In July I decided to try and apply to do a talk based on my shy idea from February, and with the help of Heather (for my usual proof reading and grammar suggestions), I crafted a talk proposal and submitted it to a local friendly meet-up called //TODO London and submitted to MirrorConf too. I was obviously rejected from MirrorConf. I knew I was going to be rejected but since the “no” was guaranteed anyway I wasn’t really going to loose anything.
After a couple of months, a date for November was arranged so that I could give my talk in //TODO London. But around the same time I was told that ViewSource was looking for lightening talk submissions so I decided to apply for it at the very last minute with the same topic. I was in bed about to sleep when, a week before, I received an email that my lightening talk had been accepted. I was shocked especially because I had written the talk title and description by myself. But I was very happy! It happened before my originally arranged talk so that was my first trial of it.
In both events the talk was well received. I talk about this in a couple of posts already but I was so afraid of making a fool of myself while putting my heart out. While I was at FFConf, I received a message from ReactJSGirls asking if I wanted to do a talk. I did, again with the same topic, and it has since all been written down on this blog in a previous blog post.
My goal was to do one talk this year but I ended doing two and a lightening talk all in the space of a month. It retrospective, I’m glad that I left this towards the end of the year when I accumulated a lot of inspiration from the conferences I attended, and when I had more coping mechanisms for my anxiety and more trust in myself from volunteering in Codebar Monthlies.
Around summer I attended a lot of meet ups and I began to feel the same I feel about conferences. I realise that I prefer to attend friendly and inclusive meet ups who focus on inspiration and personal side stories rather than just tech.
Gym and declutter
I sucked at both. I failed once again to get back into a gym routine. But don’t worry, between Christmas and new year I have already been to the gym two times! I also bought some clothes this year. My home office and cellar needs a proper declutter and organisation and I have been procrastinating. So hopefully next year.
Bonus cool things:
- I got a paddling pool.
- Got plants for the flat.
- Played in the snow in London.
- Got two haircuts and one hair dye.
- Visited Berlin x 3.
- Visited Sweden.
- Visited Edinburgh.
- Visited Salzburg.
- Flew my parents to see my flat for the first time.
- Only broke my phone once.
- Found a cheap wine that I like in the supermarket.
- Received my UK Resident card (not cool and booo to it but at least I didn’t get rejected).
- Saw The Rasmus live twice.
- Only cried a little bit when I flew on a propeller plane for the first time.
- A year of good memes.
- In February I discovered that my forehead breakouts were due to my shampoo and changing shampoos has done miracles for my skin.
- Met dogs that I follow in instagram in real life.
- Hosted Christmas Eve vegan dinner and made a nut roast from scratch.
- My nails are grown and I only relapsed into bitting once.
Next year: WEDDINGS! But also:
- Get in the gym routine.
- Work a lot on my blog and “side projects”.
- Reduce alcohol consumption by a lot.
- Read 10 books.
- Continue to work on my mental wellbeing. There is still a lot to do.
I admit that I would like to talk in a conference but… I’ve done a tour of my shy idea already and I don’t have anything else… which sucks. So maybe it is best I don’t put pressure on myself on this one.