Welp, there we have it, I am undeniably in my late twenties.
Twenty-six was apparently destined to be a year of flux, the shortlist of things that happened include:
- Float moved into our first "proper office" in TechCube.
- We lost Tilly to cancer :(.
- We found a new (grumpy) friend in Hogs Boson.
- I took over the role as organiser for TechMeetup Edinburgh.
- First wedding anniversary!
- I spoke at RealtimeConf EU, my first international conference.
- I was diagnosed with depression, started (and finished) a 6-month course of antidepressants, and started attending therapy.
- I spoke at the Scottish Ruby Conference, and Scotland JS.
- I flew to Richland, WA to meet the &yet crew, and gave a closing keynote at TriConf.
- Hilary and I had an awesome family trip to Alaska and Washington State.
- I flew back to the states (again) to help run RealtimeConf.
- I became a Silver Medallion flyer on Delta, for spending so much time in the air. (Clearly an important achievement).
- Float closed a £110k round of funding, and made it's first hires.
- I resigned from Float to join my heroes at &yet.
Fear still drives a lot of my life, and decisions. Fear of failure. Fear of rejection. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what people will think of me. Fear of what I will think of me.
With therapy, and practice, I am getting better at handling that fear. I suspect I will never get rid of it, but I can get better at managing it, and not letting it control my life. Looking back on it now, this year has involved some huge decisions, many of which almost went the other way for fear of what would happen if I made the "hard" choice. But despite the fear I had at the time, I am pleased and proud of every decision I have made, and they have all worked out far better than I expected them to at the time.
Just keep swimming
I have lost count of the number of times I had an overwhelming desire to quit everything this year. Partly due to the fear, partly due to depression, partly due to the shit that life throws at us every day.
Looking back over the last year, and where I am now, I am so grateful that I didn't, and I just kept going. Being able to keep going was helped immensely by the people around me who have supported me and kept dragging me along, even when all I've wanted to do is give up. To those people, I have so much thanks, as I know I haven't always been an easy person to drag along!
The world is equal parts awful and awesome.
I am patently not the first person to realise this, but it's a relatively new revelation to me.
There is so much horror in this world. Natural disasters, human created horrors, awful acts of government, prejudice, racism, sexism, slavery, the list goes on.
At times, those feelings are cripplingly depressing. How can one person even make a dent on any of those things? And if I can't, how am I supposed to be happy with all of those things happening in the world.
Fortunately, earlier this year, I had a hugely enlightening conversation with Adam Brault in a completely deserted (seriously, the staff even left) Figaro's pizza, Pasco. The gist being that realistically there is so little that one person can do on the global scale to fix all these horrors. But if we focus more locally in the communities where we do have influence, we can make a real difference in people's lives.
This is something I took to heart this year. Sharing the stories of my depression openly, speaking at conferences, teaching as much as I can to new developers. All these little acts have reopened my eyes to some of the joy and beauty that can be found in individual people, as well as the true impact one person can make, even if the world, on the whole, is a disaster.
I've never considered myself a "people person". I am introverted. I am a technologist. I like being on my own, and solving problems.
Through therapy I have come to terms with the fact that a lot of my preference for being alone stems from assuming people don't really like me, and have no good reason to. My therapist has challenged this assumption, and help me realize that I both have value in this world, and that there are many reasons for people to enjoy my company.
This is still the start of a long road of recovery, but it's a shift that feels so great. It's a relief to be able to think "hey, I like people". And in being open to that, I have realized how much joy and friendship there is in the people around me that I have been too blinded by fear to see for so many years.
A lot of people have made this year a real journey of growth. I won't name names as if I do I'll miss somebody's name out, but in short, if I have had more than a brief conversation with you in some form in the last 12 months, thank you.