It's been almost 365 days since I made a similar reflection on 2017. This time is the turn for 2018, a year with significant changes in my life, new countries that I visited for the first time, and some ups and downs that made me stronger and helped me grow as a person. In this blog post, I'd like to reflect on some remarkable things that happened to me this year.
I started the year by joining the mobile tooling team at Shopify. Having done iOS development for the last 4 years, this was a shift in my career, where developers became my users, and I'd write Rails and Ruby instead of Swift. During this year, I was part of the design and development of internal tools that are used across the mobile teams at the company. Moreover, my Ruby code, which initially looked pretty much like Swift, improved a lot. Also, I got to learn more about Rails, which we use to build an internal website that I'm looking forward to telling you more about soon.
I've also learned a lot about how to work with a remote team. Working remotely was an exciting thing that I had read a lot. However, I was not fully aware of all the challenges that it comes with. I feel I'm better at communicating and coordinating work with the rest of my team.
In retrospective, this was a great step in my career, and I can't wait to continue to learn and grow.
As I already wrote about on my "What a psychologist helped me realize" blog post, I went through some issues related to stress and anxiety. I was not balancing my time well, and I was putting too much time and energy onto work-related stuff. Besides my full-time job, I was doing open source, side projects, writing blog posts. I ended up losing motivation for things that I used to like a lot, like doing sport. Everything that I did outside work had to do with work in some way or another. I read books related to software engineering, I talked to my friends about stuff that I did at work...
I wasn't until I got some professional help when I realized how poorly I was managing my time. Moreover, I learned about the importance of being assertive, setting expectations, defining short-term goals and celebrating often.
Although I struggle a bit nowadays, it got much better. I'm more aware and present about my feelings and take more time to make more accurate decisions. Getting professional help is something that I'd recommend to anyone feeling mentally or emotionally unstable. Our brains are a mystery, and we'd better be taught about how they work.
I had the opportunity to visit 3 countries for the first time:
- Canada 🇨🇦: I flew there for the first time for the Shopify interviews. Since then, I've been in Canada several times along the year and visited cities like Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto.
- Latvia 🇱🇻: Despite being not that far from Berlin, I had never been in Latvia before. I visited it to attend the DevTernity conference with some friends.
- Macedonia 🇲🇰: I went on a 4-day trip with Maria José to celebrate my birthday. We rented a car and drove from Skopje to the beautiful Ohrid, and from there to Thessaloniki, northern Greece.
It had been in my list for a long time and I finally set out to do it this year. I'm glad that I made this decision. El Camino is an unique experience that is hard to describe. You pause your life for a few days, weeks or months to connect with the nature, with people you have never met before. You have time to think about yourself, about your concerns, your motivations, your life. You come across a lot hearted people willing to share stories and happiness with you.
I definitively plan to do it again in the near future. I took the photo below when I was around 40 Km from Santiago.
In 2017, I took a break from attending and speaking at conferences. Moreover, with the other organizers of ADDC, we made the decision for me to step down as an organizer. It was a great experience during the two years that I was involved, and I'm glad the event ran successfully. I'm sure the event will continue to grow and be ahead of innovation.
After this year-long break, I feel with more energy and motivated to prepare a talk for a conference. We've built some internal tools at Shopify to overcome some scalability challenges so I might prepare the talk around that topic.
I set learning German as a goal for 2018, and I think I miserably failed at it. First of all, I think it was a mistake to define "learn German" as a goal. What's learning German? Being proficient? Being able to have a casual conversation or make a phone call? Since learning languages is not something that I particularly like, I kept procrastinating and leaving my lessons for later. As a consequence, I kept running into awkward situations where I needed to talk to someone in German, and I didn't know how to say a word. One side of me things that I should speak the language because I don't know for how long I will be in the country, the other side of me says that I should instead put my energy into something that really motivates me.
I feel terrible because I think that as a person living in Germany, I should speak the language of the country. Living in a globalized world is excellent, but I shouldn't disregard the beauty of having different cultures and languages, and thus, I should strive to keep them.
I'm not very proud of how I've been exercising this year. The first half of the year I got a personal trainer to help me prepare the marathon in Berlin which, unfortunately, I had to abandon after some pain in my muscles. After that, I haven't trained regularly, barely one or twice a week. Moreover, I got some extra kilos which I'm struggling get off my body. I'd like to get back the motivation that I had two years ago when I was exercising 4 times a week, but I don't know how.
I've been thinking about this a lot, and I think that I just need to find a running buddy that can workout with. Two years ago I was mostly working out with my flat-mate. When I was not feeling motivated, he was the source of motivation. When he wasn't, I was the source. Moreover, I wasn't putting too much energy into work, so it was easier for me to stop thinking about work and enjoy the moment of going for a run.
- Nurture other areas of my life: I started doing it this year, and I'd like to continue doing it more next year. It's been 5 years with too much focus into software development while disregarding other areas that are equally important.
- Completely abandon social networks: In my experience, they bring more negativism than positivism into my life. In particular, Twitter, the one that I use the most, I experience it as a bloated stream of information and a race to see who gets the most attention. I ended up doing the same, which caused some anxiety and valuable time of my life being spent scrolling on their infinite timeline. Moreover, I don't want to be part of a platform where users are used as a means or where the voice of assholes gets echoed.
- Get the running routine back: I'd like to exercise around 3/4 times a week regularly, even when I'm traveling. Exercise makes me feel more energized and confident, so I should have no excuses to make an effort to bring the routine back.
- Have a routine for learning German: I replace the ambitious "I want to learn German" with just I want to be constant at learning it regardless of how much it takes to be proficient. I've been procrastinating it too much, and I think it's time to settle down.
- Devote more time to María José and grow the relationship: I feel I disregarded the relationship a bit by unbalancing my life's priorities. I think a relationship is like a flower if you don't put enough water and love into it gets down. While María José has been very supportive and hearted along the year, I think it's time for me to contribute.
Can't wait to see what 2019 holds my life. I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas time 🎄.
Give and share some love with your loved ones and never stop doing it. This world needs more love and more humanity than ever.