2019 -- A Year in Review


I've decided to write this before I've forgotten all that's happened this year, it really all seems a blur.

2019 started off at university, final semester of second year. I feel like I learned a lot over those four months, the courses felt challenging at times but everything ended up working out okay in the end. That semester was my first time commuting to school from a considerable distance. It was hard dealing with winter conditions. One of my best decisions was to start reading books while on the bus, it never really felt like I had a lot of free time that semester but being able to sit and read and forget about everything else in the world for 2 hours everyday was quite beneficial to me.

There were times at school where I felt I was facing problems that I couldn't find a solution for -- something I hadn't experienced before. I remember feeling quite anxious about falling behind, or simply not being good enough for what was asked of me in some courses. I've had to learn patience with exceedingly difficult problems as to not get too worried when the answers don't come immediately.

Throughout the winter semester I was yearning to go on Co-Op and escape school for the rest of the year. A combination of schoolwork and my terrible schedule had left me feeling as if I didn't have the time to pursue what truly interested me. I just wanted to work my 9-5 so that I could go home and work on what I really wanted to.

It was around this time that I had been working on developing my website and starting to write about the books I'd been reading. Building the website turned into a great project for me -- I'm happy that I was able to bring it to a fairly polished state without giving up on it.

Going into May I started my 8 month Co-Op term, working as a software dev in downtown Toronto. The months blur together at this point, probably because there was a lot going on and I was having lots of new experiences pretty much every day. This experience was a good one for me, though by the end I was ready for it to be over. I learned lots about what it means to work on a large team as a software dev, both in a technical and social sense. At the start I felt quite engaged with all the technical challenges but by the end I felt the monotony and corporate life starting to wear me down.

I was quite happy getting to know downtown Toronto; just walking around, seeing shops, and trying restaurants was a highlight of the summer for me. I also got to meet a lot of funny, interesting people while on Co-Op, all from different Universities and backgrounds. I tend to keep a fairly small social circle so it was good to branch out and get to know others who I wouldn't have otherwise.

A good chunk of my free time in the summer was spent drawing and writing. Doing this was very cathartic for me, and so I think I felt at my best during this time of the year. The art I made in the summer was highlighted by the purchase of an iPad pro, which was a big commitment for me that I'm happy I made.

The summer ended on a somewhat shitty note. I had my wisdom teeth removed at the end of August, which forced me to slow down for a week and really threw me out of the swing of things.

After I'd recovered, I decided to put art aside for a while and focus on finding an interesting job for summer 2020. This involved a lot of applications, interviews, and practicing. It was during this period that I started having internal battles between chasing money, opportunities, and what I truly want to do. Unfortunately the world of software is quite large and there's no clear cut path for everyone. I found that practicing and studying algorithms and computer science in general is quite enjoyable, but I want to make sure that I'm doing it for the right reasons. I found it quite fulfilling to self learn about more advanced topics in order to solve interesting problems -- without having to worry about getting a grade at the end, or taking an exam, or having to live up to some arbitrary standard, or move at someone else's pace.

The interview process dragged on through September, all the way to the end of October. At that point I was feeling stressed and burnt out, as I'd been putting a big effort in without finding *proper success and at the same time trying to juggle working an actual job 9-5. It was here that I started considering that even though the companies I was looking to work at may be cool and while there is money to be made, it might just not be the right time for me. I had the opportunity to travel to New York for an interview in early November, but ended up cancelling because I couldn't get myself excited enough to follow through. I decided that this summer I'd like to take some time to just work on some projects that I find interesting instead of working for someone else -- and really just take a breather and figure out what my next steps are going to be in life.

After making the decision to give the job thing a rest, I chose to give myself a break and get back into an old guilty pleasure -- competitive gaming. While at first it was fun, playing quickly became a large part of my day to day. I was trying to give myself a break, but I really ended up throwing my life out of balance. I'm really not good at balance. I think competitive gaming for me is so appealing because it feels like I'm always learning something new, it's challenging, and the games make it incredibly easy to track your progress and see improvement. I also like winning. So I played a lot, and ended up messing myself up more than helping myself out. That was a fun couple months but I feel like I'm going to give the games a rest for a bit, maybe in another couple years I'll give it a go again.

In-between the events I've described were great times spent with friends and family during holidays and the odd night out; those are the real highlights of the year. Going used book shopping, trying Five Guys, playing guitar around the bonfire, seeing the cherry blossoms at High Park, going to the cottage on Canada Day, trying rock climbing, biking in the summer and trying long-boarding, were all spent with laughter and good company and I'm thankful for that.

I've written this on a whim and thus, I've probably missed lots of important stuff, but at least I got something out. I haven't really thought about what I learned or how I'd like the next year to go yet, hopefully I can return to this in the future to introspect.

Cheers to the new year, lets hope it's a good one.