I have the habit of making new-year resolutions and setting goals for the year to come, so back in January 1st I published what I considered an ambitious list of professional goals:
- Speak at an international conference
- Join a new team
- Publish a remarkable article a month.
- Write my first book
I thought all the hard work I've done during 2019 (and the previous 15 years) may give me some sort of a head start, but never really expected to reach them so fast.
By March I was confirmed to speak at 3 conferences, in 2 languages, about 3 very different topics. Yes, I wrote 5 talks in a month and sent over 30 proposals to various CFPs, but still was surprised by how well they were being accepted.
I was invited to join amazing dev teams in top-tier companies, so it was really up to me to choose the best fit and join in as soon as I finished the running projects and commitments.
As for publication rate, I was clearly overreaching my goals, doing 2 or 3 posts a month at some of the most distinguished blogs and communities, while my book, "CSS the right way", was taking shape at a fast and steady pace.
I don't speak too much about my personal life on the internet, but I was proud to be in my best shape in more than a decade, got a healthy routine in place which skyrocketed my productivity, and finally dared to take those dancing lessons I had been deferring since forever. Furthermore, my brother had just told me they were expecting a new baby, and nothing could make me happier than that.
Then the pandemic struck. All conferences got cancelled. Companies struggled to shift their whole teams to 100% remote, which meant they wouldn't be taking in new devs for some time. The dance studio closed, and so did the paddle court, the airsoft fields, and everything else I relied on to get off my comfy dev chair and keep my mental health in check. Lockdown meant I wouldn't even be able to keep my running routine, and I'm not much of an indoor workout guy.
All the letdown hit me really hard, and got me quite anxious, failing to deliver on secondary commitments such as blogging.
Yet I knew I was part of a very small privileged group. Everyone else was going through the same struggles as me, while adapting to remote working, something I had extensive experience with. I had a job that allowed me to stay at home, safe from harm's way, pretty much indefinitely. And I did. For months on end I only got outside for groceries and such. I wasn't in any of the risk groups, but I took as my responsibility to keep those around me safe too.
Then the pandemic struck... me. I went to my brother's to help him with renovations to better setup the house for the upcoming newborn, with such a bad luck that his wife had been exposed to the virus two days before. She wasn't showing symptoms yet, but she passed the virus to me, my brother, and my parents.
A weird thing about COVID is that, while there are clear risk factors, you can't really predict how it'll hit you. We were worried about my father, but all he got was an irritated throat and a single night of fever.
The rest of us got through a more complicated process. Fever for weeks on, loss of smell and taste, a stomach flu, skin rash, shivers, a never-ending cough, a ridiculous fatigue and shortness of breath, and strong pains that came and went as the fever developed.
But the worst part was yet to come. I developed difficulty to breathe, which got me admitted to the hospital. I'll save you the details, but suffice to say it took me a long, long time to recover, and only this week I'm getting back to my normal lung capacity.
COVID took a toll on my body, but also on my mental health. I wasn't able to code, write... hell, I even failed to communicate the situation properly to some of my publishers, something I'm really ashamed for. Yet I'm strangely happy that it was me and not my father, or my sister-in-law (and my nephew) that got the worst part.
But I'm back, and that's what this post is really about. It's been a really hard year for all of us, and we're not in the clear yet. My resolutions and goals for 2021 are the very same as they were for 2020, but I came to accept that there's no shame in that. Maybe you feel that you didn't do much progress either, and I'm here to tell you: that's OK. It's been hard times, and now that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel at last, it's time to regroup and get back to building awesome things together.
Just yesterday I was talking to a dev friend. Unbelievably talented guy, head of front end at a great company, that has been playing around with the idea of speaking at conferences but never dared. So I encouraged him, helped him "sell" the talk, and got him to send his first CFP.
At the same time I got back to my social media and was surprised to see people thanking me for things I wrote a long time ago, claiming it helped them better understand a concept and even inspired them to build awesome things that I wouldn't even believe to be possible. And that's what's all about. Help each other, specially through tough times.
So I'll end this year just like it started: writing articles, finishing my book, sending proposals to all the CFPs I can find, building the bridges to join a great team, mentoring newcomers. If I can help you in any way, you can find me at my twitter. Let's build a better web together!