I guess this post has to start by addressing the elephant in the room - why did I skip writing a year in review last year at the end of 2020. There’s no super simple answer but at the same time it’s also not immensely complicated, and yes, it does have to do with the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown. Additionally, looking at my 2019 year in review, honestly, it would be pretty hard to top that. Like, you have so many special elements in that year - from a trip to my hometown of Plovdiv in Bulgaria, to a job switch and career progression, to delivering talks at events, writing my book and participating in Nanowrimo, producing a ton of content for my FPVtips YouTube channel and drone review articles for my blog, having an amazing vacation time also in Finland, after the Bulgaria trip.
Just, all of that together set the bar really high. And I’m not someone looking for an excuse or afraid of high bars, but all of this definitely made things more intimidating when it came down to writing an year in review post at the end of 2020, when we had been on lockdown since March 2020, I had barely done anything, besides work, and the whole thing was a huge mind shift if anything, because it was not only me impacted, it was everyone. So looking at the list of goals I had set for myself in 2019 for 2020 most probably failed. Let’s see.
- 🎈 Have a fun time with the family. Quality vacations whether in Finland or away.
- 💻 Build and work on cool projects. Learn new and get better at current software development skills.
- 👨🎓 Learn, teach and play around with new things with Anton (Legos, robots, game dev with Unity, RC boats, ??)
- 🎥 Release 3 videos per month for FPVTIPS on YouTube
- 📝 Produce at least as much content for the blog in 2020 as in 2019 (~ 33k words, ~ 17 posts ballpark)
- 📚 Diversify blog content further - articles on CrossFire radios and transmitters, long-range drone setups, Jumper radio, DJI digital FPV system
- 🌿 Health. Work out, eating better. More focus on this, please!
- 🚁 Fly FPV drones as much as possible 💙
- 🏡 Buy a house
- 🚤 Do at least 2 fun projects - RC snow glider / RC boat / RC FPV car
- 🍿 Watch Avatar 2
- 📈 Reach 500 subscribers on the FPVTIPS YouTube channel
- 🤞 Watch Space X crewed launches
- 📼 Get better and more efficient at video production
- 🎤 Improve audio and video capture quality
- 🎮 Play some nice new games if any come out
- 👨🏫 Finish at least 5 courses from leveluptuts.com
- 💻 Build our first computer with Anton
As you can tell, it’s far from optimal. Now, I’d also like to mention that 2020 was not a complete disaster either. There were parts of it that genuinely went well still, despite the failures in other areas. One positive thing that should 100% be mentioned is about my professional life and my job. When the lockdown hit on March 13th 2020, we were sent home to work 100% remotely from that Friday onwards and the next time we popped by the office briefly was perhaps in the summer one time, and probably a total of 2 or 3 times for the whole of 2020. Remote work was definitely a bit of an adjustment at first but I quickly got used to it and it really worked out well for me. I should mention that my daily commute to work was about 45-55 minutes each way, so by definition this change saved me almost 2 hours per day in commute time alone. On top of that, the first 6 months of the lockdown my son was full time at home with me, which was absolutely amazing and reminded me of the time when Sofia started going back to work in 2017 and I had 1 month at home with Anton before he started going to daycare. Was so much fun. Work wise things not only worked out well, but I was able to work efficiently (in fact I was doing too many hours at first so had to learn to tone it down and do a normal amount of hours). I was working on exciting projects and was learning a lot, mainly React, Redux, TypeScript and Electron at the time.
Most other bigger goals did not see any big improvements. And for some goals, like for example thank god I didn’t buy a house, and you’ll understand why a bit later. I have to say the thing that makes me the most sad is that I kind of dropped the ball on my growing FPVtips YouTube channel. I’m not going to excuse myself, if I wanted to I would have found a way to keep it going. Was I really a bit more busy? Yes, especially the first 6 months of lockdown as mentioned, yes I was. Could I have still made videos? Most probably yes. We were in lockdown, but I was still able to go out to a field and fly if I wanted to. However, no flying with my buddy was on the horizon for example. Again, not an excuse, but just facts. The thing about the pandemic and the lockout was that it was pretty much unprecedented, at least from the perspective of a 35 year old. So there were and are a lot of subtle things about it.
The whole first year I’d say the world was kind of adjusting. To some, it was a gift from heaven - the idea to stay at home and not go anywhere and work from there and wow, so cool. To others it was probably horrific - to stay home all the time and not be able to go out, yikes. I’d say I was perhaps more into the first camp than the second. Besides the nearly 2 hours of saved daily commute time, I was also saving up probably 400-500e per month on gas and lunches. So that got reflected in my savings too, definitely not an insignificant amount of money. Add to that the fact that I was able to be at home with my son, even if he’s playing with toys, iPad or on his computer and I’m working, but still, hanging out together, was definitely my favorite. But all in all, diversifying blog content, flying more FPV drones, focus on health and working out just did not happen. To some degree I understand why, as mentioned maybe I could have somehow made it work, but honestly, in the end, I don’t push myself too hard over it; it is what it is. Most of the goals on the minor goal list still got ticked off, since they were mostly fun little things to do here and there.
And since there was no year in review last year, then what about the goals for 2021 and what did happen in 2021? Nothing much more special or different really. Most of the stuff carried over as it had been going on from 2020. Working 100% remotely, still decently interesting stuff to work on and learn, a bit more heavy on the managerial focus - managing backlogs more, tasks, product releases, notes, communicating, all on top of the actual app development and taking and acting on feedback. This has been something that I’ve been and am thankful for and one of the things to keep me sane - my job. There have been some very difficult things to work on every so often that feel like banging your head against a wall for a while, until you eventually make it work somehow. And so many learnings of different things. Besides that, in 2021 we’ve been going between lockdown and not being in one, between going to the office once a month for lunch with colleagues and signing new work agreements - going from full remote to 1 day in the office per week. And then back into full remote, because of pandemic restrictions tightening again.
Besides that, I’ve been socializing in the only possible way - online - mainly by playing World of Warcraft Classic with a bunch of folks I’d be happy to call friends. Many wholesome people we’ve been playing together with since late 2019 and being a part of that community makes me so, so happy. One of the reasons why I’ve ended up logging in nearly every evening to play with those folks. To understand why this is important we would need to go back a bit, but long story short, playing games with people has been one of the ways for me to unwind and relax. After moving to Finland and starting school and work at the same time back then, however, I was only playing some MOBAs every so often, and ended up basically only playing Heroes of the Storm matches while watching YouTube educational videos and tutorials. I did that for about 3-4 years, because one of the things I wanted to accomplish at the time was to immerse myself completely in software development stuff and there was just so much to learn in the beginning and I wanted to move quickly. So even when I was “playing” games it really wasn’t the main activity. There are PROs and CONs for each one, but in the end, after constantly pushing yourself to learn more and more and become as good of a developer as you can be by constantly watching, learning, and building things, finally, it was a nice change of pace to play a few games to just relax and be immersed in the game and truly let your brain unwind. Games like The Outer Worlds and Cyberpunk 2077 definitely helped in that regard and provided a relaxing experience while enjoying the story and playthrough of the game…
I’ve never been an overly materialistic person. In fact, in the past few years I’ve been progressively getting more and more into minimalist living. Like, there’s so much garbage around us we don’t even need. Super unnecessary, leading to waste, pointless spending and clutter. Reason why I’m mentioning this is because I’ve been wondering and thinking a lot about “what does really matter then?” I think everyone has to answer that question for themselves, but for me, it’s relationships with people. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how you live your life - what kind of relationships you form with people, how they see you, how you see yourself, how you connect, how you spend time together. It turns out this one is actually pretty big for me. I’ve also been thinking about why spamming memes in Forsen’s Twitch chat felt so much fun all these years ago. Or doing other “group” activities, being a part of a “community”, doing something together with other people. Turns out this sense of belonging somewhere, to a group, hanging out with other people, is also big for me. So it absolutely comes as no surprise why I did go back and log in to play the game, show up for weekly and seasonal events with our guild, as well as other mini communities I’ve become a part of within the game. It was the main and only way to socialize during the pandemic. Mind you, over the years, with a focus on being a parent, and just becoming more introverted by living in Finland for 10 years, I’m not the most outgoing of a person at the moment (subject to change in the near future), so it fits well, and indeed, this online socializing worked out pretty well in my opinion. It has been fun to play with these folks and I appreciate them a lot. We even had some online parties, where we literally laughed our asses off.
In the summer of 2021 we still could not go anywhere however, so even in vacation time, we pretty much chilled around the town where we live. It was quite a warm part of the summer and the sea water was very swimmable so we did a lot of that, including going to a new nice spot with some cool rocks and pretty chill for swimming overall. Besides that, there’s not been much more to add really. We’ve been having a lot of fun with Anton to build different things and have different adventures in Minecraft, went to some rope climbing activities (looking into signing up for Tennis practice, but more on that in a bit).
I did apply, got accepted into and started studying for my Master’s degree with Metropolia. And it has felt really nice to be back in school, albeit with these different conditions with masks and pandemic. We’ve been having 1 in-person and 1 remote day of school each week and that has worked out well in my opinion. For the most part, the school has been going along nicely and I’m confident with completing my Master’s thesis swiftly next year.
And finally, a 10 year relationship was kissed goodbye in September of 2021. I could write tens of pages on this topic alone, but this is “year in review” and I’ll keep it short here. In the end what difference do the details make when 1 person does not want to be with the other anymore? Regardless of overthinking or over analysing, if that’s the case, you’re better off finding out about it now, rather than later, and “convincing” or fighting for something like this is pointless. If a person wants to go all the way to not being together anymore, trying to convince them otherwise is a waste of time. One of the things that helps me cope with this is the fact that I’m ok with what I’ve done for the past 10 years and if I could go back in time, I’d do it all again. I wouldn’t change anything and I’m happy for my actions. I grew a lot from a boy who used to be so much more into arguing back in the day to being the one TO ALWAYS try to calm down the setting and try to get us to talk constructively about things. However, it does take 2 to tango, and communication is a 2 way street and when that’s not on point from both parties, it just doesn’t go anywhere. And our communication wasn’t on point. I’m sure I could have learnt something more and be even better, but honestly, I’m happy with what I’ve learnt and how I’ve been communicating, and for the most part this has felt as a one sided thing where only 1 person is interested in improving and that just doesn’t work out. It still hurts to lose a person, who in the end, despite her shortcomings, was someone very, very special to me, but I am forced to move on and dwelling on past stuff is just pointless.
I had a saying / proverb I created myself in my early 20s, which actually and surprisingly, lives up pretty fine after all the years: “Feeling nostalgic about the past means you’re not creating good enough memories in the present”. And it’s true. Focus on your present moment. You have no control over the past and no control over the future, but you can decide how to spend your present, so go for it. Of course, I wanna make sure I don’t sound like some wise-ass because in the end, I’ll admit, this transition has been very hard for me. Loving someone unconditionally despite her shortcomings and having to move on is not an easy task and takes a toll on you. Back in the day, I’d just drink for 2-3 weeks and go out and move on. Now, it’s different; A number of things make this transition extra hard, from where I live, to never having been single in Finland, to having a kid together, meaning you gotta keep seeing the other parent, so this is definitely interesting and something I’ve had no experience with before. In a way regardless of moving on, we’ll also be a family for the rest of our lives, and it’s weird to think about it that way, but in the end our focus is on our kid and making sure he’s as unimpacted as possible. Time will tell how this will all work out.
So that’s the main reason why I mentioned earlier, thank god I didn’t buy a house. Would have added more crap to deal with in the aftermath of this, and trust me there’s been plenty to deal with as it is. One “funny” thing that I just can’t wrap my mind around is the amount of crap we threw away from home. I mentioned already about being more and more into minimalist living. Honestly, I can’t believe the amount of stuff I’ve thrown out from our home. Since the break up was in September, giving a notice to move out from our apartment takes 3 months, and we moved out after 2 months already, so those 2 months have been preparing the move and during weekends we would clean and package and throw away stuff. I filled up 2 huge trash containers with crap. Plastics, vases, chandeliers, kitchen stuff, never used christmas gifts, it’s honestly crazy. Even now, looking at how much stuff I took with me in this apartment, knowing how much stuff she took to hers and how much stuff we tossed in the garbage, and the 3 trips to recycle metal, wood, and other stuff too. Genuinely insane amounts of crap. Sorry for the rant, I just still don’t get it how it is possible :D
So I’m writing this now in December 2021, when we’ve been living in the new apartment for 3-4 weeks, and it’s been fine. Time to set the goals for 2022 and set sights on the future, so here we go:
- 💹 Have a net positive situation with Anton and a minimum negative impact from family events on him
- 🎾 Sport hobby with Anton (tennis)
- 🏋️♂️ Do crossfit and lose the gut
- 📝 Finish my Master’s degree
- 🛂 Get Finnish citizenship
- 🤝 Meet genuine and emotionally mature people <3
- 👨💻 Professional development focus
- 😊 Personal development focus
- 💶 Diversify income streams
- 🎥 Back to YouTube
- 🕺 Have fun ;)
I’ve been already taking some solid steps towards some of those goals and many of them are actually not something you can accomplish overnight. So definitely slow and steady, baby steps, but consistency is key I guess and we can get it done. And while it’s nice to have super specific items on the list to try and check off, really in the end, things fall into about 2 main categories. One with a focus on Anton - wellbeing, education, spending time together, food, just making sure we do things right and have fun. And two - focus on myself. Improve some general level things with a deeper focus on the future, make sure I take time to relax and have fun as well, and continue learning and developing myself and hopefully, meet someone who appreciates and respects me, just as much as I do them. Here’s to an amazing 2022!