Once again, we’re in the liminal space “between the years”. Christmas is over, and the new year hasn’t begun.
My issue with times like these that are outside the routine, and that means most holidays, is that they can only ever fulfill some of the expectations we have for them. They can be a time to do nothing and not feel you’re supposed to do anything. They can be a time to sit and reflect on your life. Alternatively, you can spend time with friends and family, especially those you rarely see. Or you can get a head-start on work. Or you catch up on all the tasks you haven’t been able to complete, both at work and in your household. I’m talking about the drawer you wanted to sort for years. All these are perfect uses for time off, but if you expect to do all of them, you realize how short a few days are once your schedule fills up. Add procrastination due to indecisiveness to the list, something I unfortunately do pretty often, and your holidays are almost over as soon as they begin.
For me, the Christmas break was mainly about spending time with friends and family. In other words, I have yet to do the other things on the list. So, let’s start with reflection.
When writing on this blog, I always look for older posts to link and refresh my memory with my earlier thoughts on similar subjects. In the first post for this year, I sounded negative and described 2022 as a year of stagnancy, even wondering if I’m getting too old to make progress. I linked a post from December 2021 in which I wrote down a few questions I wanted to explore in 2022, but I wasn’t happy with my headway. While I can’t say I have the perfect answers to these questions, I made significant progress in 2023.
In terms of work, I’ve been serving the same clients for a long time. One project ended in early 2023 as the company didn’t renew my contract, but the other existing projects quickly replaced it and filled my workday. I kept telling people that, technically, I’m a freelancer, but it feels more like having three part-time jobs. And that isn’t what I want. While this continued in 2023, I’ve been working on my business and figuring out where I want my professional journey to continue. I had a lot of conversations about it as well. And, very recently, I have figured it out. I have a plan and people who support me in implementing it. So, while I still need to implement it, I feel prepared and excited for the next steps. I will write about the details separately, so watch out for that.
Regarding life outside work, two highlights of this year have been my trip to India and the UAE and attending Jesscamp in the summer. Both exposed me to new people and ideas, expanded my comfort zone, opened my mind, and let me reconnect with people from the past. I also went on a few short trips to Berlin and once to London for community meetups. I finally met Anna and Anne-Laure, the founders of the communities that guided me through the pandemic.
It doesn’t mean that all great things only happen while traveling. In May, I picked up a new hobby locally: I joined a Salsa dancing class. I’m still struggling with my dance moves and still count myself as an absolute beginner even though I’m now doing the follow-up advanced class. However, I enjoy dancing. I finally found something that allows me to connect more with my body than my head (despite the cognitive effort to remember the steps) and an excellent opportunity to meet people who aren’t all nerds. I’m grateful for my friend who joined the classes with me; otherwise, I might have yet to do it. I’m motivated to improve at dancing, which will also encourage me to care for my health and appearance more broadly.
Earlier this year, I wrote about being a lifelong single in my thirties. The post was for me to have a basis to talk about it with friends and close followers, but someone put it on Hacker News, and I woke up to 10000 views and 400 comments. It was an unusual experience, but having shared something so intimate with a large crowd (and, mind you, connected to my name, which I’m also trying to establish as a professional brand) without having anything bad happen felt like an inoculation against the fear of revealing my self.
Besides the professional next steps, one thing that has always been on my mind is the desire to host events and connect people. I’ve done it through community meetups or virtual salons and my regular public board game nights, but I wanted to experiment with other forms of hosting, like dinner parties. Those felt intimidating, though. Then, I found Nick Gray and his book “The 2 Hour Cocktail Party”. I bought the book and made my way through it in one sitting. That confirmed my desire to host and gave me a less intimidating playbook. I have yet to host one of these parties, but I’m already preparing one for early 2024.
Altogether, 2023 feels like a year of a few great things and preparation for even greater things to come next year. I’m looking into the future with excitement, anticipation, and optimism. And I hope all of you do the same! Happy holidays!