Looking back at 2022

TL;DR: Super tiny review of the past year and some learnings for the future

Three things from 2022

Do scary things

What is scary? Fear is very personal, and something that I perceive as challenging might be easy for someone else.

Usually, I go on vacation to places where I speak the language. I'm physically uncomfortable and absolutely cannot relax otherwise. So I got to know some cities very well, but it's also very limiting if I want to discover something new. This year I've been to several countries, the language of which I don't speak. It's been incredibly stressful, but I've discovered incredible places and have made unforgettable memories.

I wonder if this fear will fix itself with time or if I'll always be uncomfortable. However, I've tackled it once, and it will be less scary in the future.

Ultimately, it's about leaving the boundaries I'm comfortable with and trying new things. This year I did several scary things, which made me grow.

Read the room

A lot of factors go into a conversation. Does the person like or respect me? Will they accept my opinions, or do I have to prove myself first? Is our knowledge of the topic the same, or should one of us dumb the conversation down? Is the person in a good mood today or not?

How and when I say something matters almost as much as what I say. For example, if I speak to my boss who doesn't understand my work deeply, I should first think about the delivery. How much technical context do they need? How much time do they have? What is the information they need to make meaningful decisions?

Often this problem is solved by opening the conversation with: How can I help you and listening to the response. Every person wants to do their job well, and the least I can do is help them.

Work smart, not hard

Work was hard the past two years since working in a startup environment is always tricky. How do we deliver work quickly and simultaneously adhere to high-quality standards? How do we maintain an ever-growing codebase in such a way that new contributors can promptly get the context? How do we keep refactoring cheap and unobtrusive?

Solving these sorts of issues has cost me a lot of overtime. Was the overtime worth it? Yes. Would I do it again? It depends. Even though I learned a great deal, I could've learned these things with less stress.

For example, I will continually assess whether haste is productive for me. If the frontend isn't the bottleneck, my overtime won't solve anyone's problems. In stressful situations, it's easy to go into the headless chicken mode, but it's not always helpful.

Three things for 2023

Be nice to people

Unfortunately, I'm incredibly awkward with people. You know this one person who panics and starts blabbering weird or rude gibberish? That's me. Luckily, this isn't something that can't be solved. The effort of the past years showed me that with enough awareness, I could tackle this issue. It's a challenging and daily effort, but it's gratifying.

Usually, people have a lot on their plates, and there were enough situations in the past when I added to the stack of problems. So from now on, I want to commit always to being friendly and understanding to people. Everyone has their battles and demons, and I don't want to be one of those.

What if there's no next year?

This one sounds fatalistic, but it's worth reminding myself of my mortality. What would I do differently today if I were not around in a year?

Would I work the same amount of time?

Would I spend my time with different people?

Would I do all the things I want, but of which I'm scared?

Would I buy that insanely expensive bag I've been looking at for years?

Find new areas of interest

In the past years, I've been interested in a limited set of technical topics. For example, I know a lot about testing, the types, and how to write and run them. I can assess what kind of test to write in various situations. I can judge code quality and determine if it can be written better simply by looking at how it's tested. I can provide feedback on people's tests and help them test better.

It's time to find some topic to focus my attention on. Now I need to see which one. Perhaps UI?