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Daniel Afonso
Daniel Afonso

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An unplanned recap of 2023

I didn’t plan this post! I just felt I had to take everything that happened in 2023 to me, reflect on it for a while, and put it all into words.
Also, this is my first post in what feels like forever so I am also sorry for the mess.

2023 was a year of a lot of ups and downs. I've grown, I struggled, I shipped, I made new friends, I helped others grow, and many other things we will see in this post.

My plan for this post is to figure it out as I write. As I do a retrospective on my year I will pick some of the topics. For each topic, I will structure it as the short and the long. That way you can get a TLDR always upfront.

The events

The short

  • I visited 11 countries and did 20+ presentations with 7 different talks and 1 workshop.
  • I got rejected for around 74% of my CFP submissions.
  • Helped organize React Summit.
  • Met with many of my friends and made new ones.

The long

2023 was the year I experienced the most growth as a public speaker. I wish I could say this was easy but it involved a lot of work, hours without sleeping, and rejections.

About rejections

I did not track everything this year. But from what I did, I can share that submitted a CFP to 80 different events around the world. Of these 80, I got to speak at around 24 of them. I am sharing this because I want you to know that the reason you are not getting picked is that it is hard to plan an event. It is not because you suck.

I plan on writing more about this soon, but one of the things I learned thanks to joining the React Summit program committee is:

Sometimes we need to make trade-offs to have an engaging and interesting line-up.

Sometimes this means having to reject an amazing submission because we already had a similar one picked for the event and we want to avoid overwhelming the audience with the same subject.
So please, do not let rejections discourage you. Keep submitting! Soon you will find an event that will choose your submission.
Hopefully, they will choose mine as well and we will meet there 😅

The knowledge sharing and friendships

Traveling to events is tiring. This year, I spent more time in airports, bus stops, and train stations than I ever thought I would.
Some of these times without sleeping the night before.
I also learned the hard way that doing 7 conferences in 5 different countries in one month is something to avoid if you want to keep your mental health intact. But this is also something for another time.
Focusing on the travel is tiring part, you might ask something along the lines of: Was it worth it?

It was!

Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a talk and knowing that you were able to share a bit of the small knowledge that you have with others. Hopefully, you also helped them grow in the process. This is a feeling I cannot describe.

The other thing that motivated me as well was the friendships.
This year, I met more people than I can count. I made some amazing new friendships. I strengthened others. I learned something from everyone I met and this helped me grow as a professional as well as a person.
My heart is full of love and I am genuinely happy for everyone that I got to spend some time with. I would love to thank everyone individually but at this point, I would spend the rest of the day here and I would risk forgetting someone so I won't do that. Instead, I want you to know that I appreciate you all and I can't wait to see you again soon

The workshop challenge

Public speaking is hard. This will probably be something that I will invest some time this year writing more about.
There is always something that you can grow on, and it is important to identify your struggles and pains.

This year, I figured out that I was struggling with the Q&A portion after my talks. Something in Q&As triggered my fight-or-flight response. I could have handled this in many ways, many of them way better approaches than the one I picked. For me, the answer for getting rid of this response was the following:

I am going to put myself in a room with a bunch of people for at least 4 hours and have a fully interactive workshop where people can stop me at any time to ask questions.

I know, I know. I could have done this differently but it worked. My fight-or-flight response is tamed, my anxiety levels are lower, and the best part of it? I ended up doing a workshop that hopefully helped a bunch of people grow their skills in the React Testing Library.

The Imposter

The short

  • The more knowledgable people I know the worse my imposter syndrome gets.

The long

2023 was also the year I questioned my knowledge and growth the most.

I've always had a ton of imposter syndrome about all things. Heck, I even turned it into a talk.

This year it was no exception. You see, attending conferences is amazing. Hanging out with way more knowledgeable people than you is fantastic. But, when the "I don't know if I know enough to be in this discussion" kicks in... That is when the doubt and fear show up. My mind goes over a lot of phases when this happens. From "I don't deserve to be here" to "Is everyone judging what I am saying?" to many other stuff.

I wish I could say I have figured this out already. I haven't. I still struggle sometimes and question my place there. But it is getting better. Hopefully, in 2024 I will figure this out.

The releases

The short

The long

In 2022, I accepted the challenge of writing a book. I didn't know what to expect of it. What I knew was it was going to be about a topic I loved and that it would pretty much take all my free time to do so.

Well, in 2023 my book State Management with React Query was finally released.

I have learned a lot from this experience. It is also something that I plan to talk more about this year. But as a teaser, I will share this:

It drained my writing and creative energy. Having to focus everything I had on the book took a hit on my desire to regularly write a new blog post.

On another note, I finally took the time to record my course on Egghead. I say finally because this course has been in the making for a long time. There were many variables in play as to why it took me so long to put this out, but 2023 was the year. An Introduction to the React Testing Library is out!!!!

Screencasting is hard and this is one of the reasons why it took me so long. But now that I am hearing all the feedback from this course it was worth it. So as another tease, expect something new to pop up soon.

What is next?

I left so many things out of this post. Some of them to write more about in the future. Others because either I forgot or this is not the time to talk about yet.

I know that for me, 2024 is going to be a solid year 😎

Because I know that if I share this with y'all I will be more committed to it, here is part of my bucket list/wish list for 2024:

  • Start producing video content.
  • MC a conference in person. (Carry on goal from last year's bucket list)
  • Speak at a conference in the US. (Carry on goal from last year's bucket list)
  • Keep sharing knowledge in events around the world.
  • Code more.
  • Get back the habit of writing blog posts. One per month.
  • Release a new course.
  • Figure out how to grow to the next step in my career as a DevRel.
  • Read at least 2 books per month.
  • More to be announced soon!

I know. Not everything up there is measurable. Also, some stuff is missing but with time it will show up.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I've always wanted to do a year recap post and I am happy with this one. Hopefully, a good first step to picking back the writing habit 😁

Thank you for the amazing year that 2023 was. Wish you all the best for 2024 and looking forward to seeing what happens!

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