When we plan for the future, we always prepare and hope for the best scenario. We never think about what could go wrong, so we never prepare for that.
At the end of each year, we spend our time and energy setting grandiose objectives for the new year. We believe that in the next year, we'll be somehow different and achieve all our goals.
And in December 2022, I did precisely that. I set objectives for 2023 and planned to do lots of big things. "2023 will be my year" - I told myself. And that's what you probably told yourself as well.
But that's not how life works, and 2023 drove that point home. This year was a damn roller coaster!
So, in this post, I'll talk about my turbulent 2023 and:
- the main events from the year
- how things turned around
- what I learned
Read it through to the end because I guarantee that it will entertain you, at the very least. At best, it motivates you to face life's difficulties and pursue your goals.
Starting the year with a bang
2023 didn't take long to show me the first glimpse of what it would bring.
It only took one month. In February, I received the dreaded message from my then-manager - "we need to talk," and a meeting was scheduled in my calendar. For some reason, I knew what was coming. Seeing the news in tech and some things that happened in the company, I felt it.
And I was right about it. I was laid off right then and there. After that meeting, all my access and permissions were revoked. I was jobless.
I felt a mix of emotions - relief and anxiety.
I was relieved because I wanted to transition from DevRel to an engineering role anyway. But I didn't have the courage to take the leap.
Anxiety because that means no income with a dependent family and 6 months' worth of savings. It was also my first time being laid off, and this situation made me super anxious with the uncertainty that came with it.
However, looking back at the situation, I'm glad it happened the way it happened. I learned many things, which also resulted in me getting back into software development. But more on that later.
Anyway, the year continued to go from bad to worse. My health anxiety came back in full force, among other things that happened. But I'll keep those private.
By the start of the spring, I had no job, and my health had deteriorated. That is no good combo.
Up to this point, you saw the "shitastic" part of my 2023. But, thankfully, there is also the "shitastic" part because things turned around wonderfully.
As I mentioned, I wanted to make a change and transition back to an engineering role. After 2 years and a bit in DevRel, it was super tricky. I only received DevRel offers because companies were not keen on taking chances on someone who was out for such a long time.
So, I knew I had to do something different and get out of my comfort zone. That's when I decided to volunteer as a developer. Thankfully, there was an opportunity that doesn't come often.
Since it was a new company, I knew they would need all the help possible. But I also knew there was no way they could pay me. First because of my salary expectations and second because they weren't making money at that point.
Then I thought - what if I ask them to allow me to contribute to the platform? It's a win-win situation. They get free work, and I get to practice and gain experience in a real-world company environment.
Thankfully, Florin and the rest of the team accepted, and I started the "job". Even though I wasn't employed, I treated it like my full-time job. I knew it was an opportunity I couldn't miss or screw. My future depended on it, more or less (no exaggeration).
On 15 March, I opened my first pull request for iCodeThis. I continued volunteering until the beginning of September when I started my job as a full-stack developer at Documenso.
If it weren't for iCodeThis, I wouldn't be here or have the job at Documenso. I improved my technical skills in 8 months, more than in the past 2 and a half years. That experience allowed me to revive my passion for coding and get my developer career back on track.
In the end, getting laid off led here, so I'm glad everything happened the way it happened.
What about the other problems?
Besides getting a developer job, I managed to solve most of my problems. Most notably, I learned a lot about managing my anxiety and got it under control.
We could say that I managed to turn things around 180 degrees.
Not Only Doom and Gloom
Although unpleasant events happened in my life, this period was also great. It allowed me to spend more time with my family, relax, and try different things and ventures.
One such example is content creation.
Ever since I started creating content on the internet, I wanted to become a full-time creator. I imagined it would allow me to have the perfect life - make good money, work on my own terms, and so on.
However, I quickly learned during this period that being a full-time creator is not for me. At least, not at this stage in my life. For one, relying on income from sponsored content didn't feel right. I'm no hypocrite and do sponsorships, especially for companies and products I like. However, depending on these sponsorships for my livelihood and potentially being forced to do them so I could put food on the table wasn't very appealing to me.
Besides that, I still need to get more experience as a developer and content creator before I can do it full-time. Although, I don't want to do it anymore in the foreseeable future.
These 8 months without a job allowed me to take a much-needed break from full-time commitments. I welcomed it with open hands because my past years were all about grinding after work to build my YouTube channel, my blog, and my social media profile.
Even better, I was able to spend a lot of time with my wife and travel to different places. We could never do that since I always worked full-time and was grinding to build side things.
In hindsight, this period of 8 months without full-time commitments really did me well. As I said, it allowed me to relax, spend time with my wife, and try different venues.
What I Learnt
The most important thing I learned during this period is that both good and bad periods eventually pass. Knowing that, it helps me to stay grounded when going through either period - don't get cocky when things go well, and don't despair when going through a rough period.
I also learned that your dreams don't always translate well to reality. I always wanted to be a full-time content creator. But after I tried it this year, I decided it was not what I wanted to do. At least for the time being. I still have a lot of skills to improve and learn before jumping to full-time content creation again.
Losing my job also opened my eyes to the privilege and blessings I had. I always appreciated what I had, but I was also a bit superficial at the same time. Maybe you could even say I was feeling a bit entitled. However, getting laid off woke me up to the reality. And I'm forever grateful for that. I'm now 100% thankful for everything I have - my job, opportunities, and so on - and I'm making the most of every opportunity.
Having all this free time also allowed me to work on myself as a person as well. I had the opportunity to work on my health anxiety and learn ways to manage it and keep it under control.
Lastly, this experience taught me that events might feel disastrous initially, but they can be a blessing in disguise. Losing a job while having a family depending on you surely doesn't feel like a blessing. But looking back, it was one big blessing because it allowed me to jump back to the field I love - engineering. If I hadn't lost my job, I don't know if I would have had the guts to transition back.
I would say that I learned important lessons the hard way this year. What looked like a disastrous year in the beginning turned out to be a great year.
I've said anything that needs to be said in the post. But if there are 2 things that I'd like you to remember from this post, are these:
- All periods pass eventually - both the good and bad ones.
- Things can look ugly at first, but they can turn out to be good for you.
Keep them in mind!