2020 Year Review

This year has been both the longest and shortest year of my life. I think that's one thing most people can agree on, 2020 has been wild. Now if you're about to embark on my journey of reminiscing I would just like to point out one thing. It's absolutely fine if you haven't made the accomplishments you wanted to this year. Posts like this might make you feel like you haven't done enough but getting through a pandemic is something that's exhausting and a totally valid thing to have accomplished.

This is more about my tech accomplishments and the awesome stuff I’ve done in my side projects. The thing I’m really most proud of however is that I became a father to a beautiful little girl named Aaisha. I’m writing this blog post in between changing diapers and feeding her. I operate on her schedule now, not my own.

Last year I put my goals into the form of a tweet. I decided to start by looking at those and seeing where I met the expectations I set for myself.

Starting from the bottom up I wanted to submit to more CFP’s. That means “Call for Papers/Proposals” and is just a posh techie way of saying I submitted talks to conferences and meetups. I did do this and I’m super glad I did. In 2020 I delivered seven talks. Last year I was a little disappointed because I had submitted several talks to a lot of different events but now I feel a lot more energized in terms of doing speaking events and I’m looking forward to more. Check out one of my favorite talks here on Egghead.

https://egghead.io/talks/egghead-hip-hop-code-and-mental-health

I’ve done a lot of work this year for my own mental health as well as advocating for mental health in general. We need to take care of it now more than ever. I’ll get back to those wins in just a little bit there are a couple of goals I didn’t quite meet.

I wanted to record and release a course on web development and I also wanted to release a side project I was working on at the time of that tweet. I am happy to say that I did live stream a couple of small tutorials and have been on and off doing 30-second code tutorials on Fleets (the new Twiter stories). I’m also working on an ebook that will feature some small tutorials. So while I didn’t completely meet the goal I wanted it has evolved into something different and will be part of my upcoming 2021 goals.

My side project at the time was a community for developers to collaborate on different projects. That has evolved partially into the ebook I mentioned earlier but overall that was a goal I couldn’t meet because I didn’t plan properly and didn’t have a proper vision for what I wanted to build. I was also still partially stuck in tutorial hell and couldn’t get started without watching a video guide on where to begin. I’ve finally gotten out of that and pushed myself out of that comfort zone.

There are two big accomplishments however that I did not expect to make. One actually happened last week. I started and released an open-source project for a hackathon that has now evolved into something more. I created The Sylar Project, which is an aggregated database of different mental health resources available by region. It’s tough to make the decision to get help and I wanted to make it as easy as possible to find the resources and tools people need in order to get the proper help they need. From a technical standpoint while building this I’m trying to learn and use best practices for clean code and giving myself experience in architecting an app that could potentially help and be used by many people. From a non-technical standpoint, it feels really good to help bring this resource to life. Even in its unfinished imperfect form, I’ve already had more than one person reach out to me about how useful it is. One person even contacted one of the organizations I listed in their region to get more information on mental health resources in their state.

My other accomplishment has been putting together the founding team for my mental health startup, Whimser. We are very close to making an official announcement, I’m actually working on a landing page for it right now, and we’re hoping to have a beta release in Q1.

All this work on mental health this year was made possible by me working on my own and getting the help that I needed. I continued therapy which I began over a year ago and started taking medication for my depression and anxiety. My wife has told me several times how much better I seem and I’ve felt it too. For the first time in a while, I’m very content and I’m able to just feel happy. I’m glad I got to this point in time for the birth of my daughter.

I’ve been able to look at the positives of a lot of things that also didn’t work out for me this year. My initial goals like I mentioned above while not 100% complete led me to some great pivots. I’m also much more ok with some of my failures. I recently got the final round interview at a FAANG(Big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, Apple, etc). While I didn’t ultimately get the job getting to the final round and actively being considered was still cool. I learned that I’m not completely horrible at Data Structure and Algorithm questions though I don’t have any desire to do that type of interview again for quite a while.

So what’s up for next year? I want to build off on things I accomplished this year. I want to get through to a point where a vaccine is widely available and maybe we don’t have to go hardcore social distancing anymore. Other than that here is what I hope to accomplish:

Be the best father I can be for my daughter
Finish my book and work on more video-based tutorials
Get Whimser released and work with my team on getting investors

While 2021 won’t automatically erase everything that happened in 2020, I’m hopeful that things might slowly start getting better. We can all affect some small change and I’m building my change on advocating for my own mental health as well as for others.

🙏🙏🙏

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