2019: Lessons Learned

December 13, 2019 · Filed under Personal

It’s the end of the year — and the decade… as endless listicles remind me every day. I wrote an end of year blog post last year so I figured I’d do one this year. When writing, I struggle to really express my thoughts and sometimes view it as a perfunctory task to be performed. Just another thing to check off my to-do list. This year I wanted to try something a little different and experiment with the format.

Every year I sit down and write a list of lessons learned for the year. This list is generally for my eyes only, and it’s my own Type A way of accepting that life is always going to have problems and I should at least try to grow from those experiences.

This year, I am going to share an abridged version of this list here, for you! It’s way too long (and personal) to share entirely but I plucked some random ones ranging from really light to introspective.

Lesson: Budget airlines are the best

People are always ragging on airlines like Spirit or Frontier, but I personally learned to love them this year. You can usually fly in the equivalent of a first class sized seat on them for the same price as Delta’s rock bottom fare where you get randomly assigned a middle seat and can’t cancel or change anything.

Also, because it’s a budget airline less people opt to purchase the more expensive seats so your chances of getting someone sitting next to you are even lower. With Delta and others, expect any nice seat to be filled with rewards people.

I also love how they don’t add anything extra. You pay a base fare and then for exactly what you need. Flying sucks, and some of the stuff regular airlines do make it even worse. It’s so much more efficient to just pay for your drink or food than to have a stewardess spend half the flight coming up and down blocking the aisle handing out peanuts to everybody.

Want carry-ons? Pay for it separate, and you don’t have to deal with every single overhead bin being full. And all told, it’s still cheaper or about the same price as a Delta flight. Easy choice for me.

I took Frontier to Denver this year to do some hiking and check the city out and snapped the beautiful shot that is the hero image for this post!

Lesson: Don’t send dramatic emails

My original draft of this was “don’t send emails after 7pm” because most of the emails I have sent that fall into this category were sent after that time. Usually when I am lying in bed worrying about the outcome of a situation and feeling powerless to change it.

But that didn’t concisely capture my meaning. Basically if I’m spending a long time writing a draft and reading and rereading and trying to control something through that, there’s a really good chance I shouldn’t send that email. It has never ended well, not even once.

Instead, I’ve started to understand my anxiety a little better and see myself as separate from it. When I’m spinning out of control about something, I load a YouTube playlist and just embrace how I’m feeling. In those cases, the best thing to do is nothing but accept that I’m going to feel shitty for the next 3-4 hours and that feeling won’t last forever.

Lesson: Don’t install beta software on things you need to use

I’m sure most people reading this are like “duh” but I used to do this a lot. It’s fun to try new features. However, the stability of Apple’s beta software has gotten bad. Like really bad. I read this super interesting — and very plausible — blog post about why. It bums me out. The bugs do seem to get fixed before official release, but I was using the first public Catalina beta and it was going to be a huge effort to downgrade and it made things really tough for me.

Lesson: Slow down

I move every year. As of this writing, I am a couple days settled into my new apartment.

Moving is crazy stressful, and I’m really growing tired of it. I’m ready for things to be more stable and less in flux in my life. I’m going to try to focus on that in the coming year.

Conclusion

This year was a mixed bag for me. I spent a lot of it hunkered down coding. That paid off, I became a much stronger programmer this year. From building and releasing CDC Maps to creating my first iPhone app to Hacktoberfest and there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t even write about.

A couple months ago I came up with the idea for a Chrome extension that would make the lives of myself and my coworkers easier and I just…wrote it. Looked up the relevant docs and built it in an afternoon. I never would have had the confidence to even try something like that last year. And I use it every day, which is rad.

I’m also currently leading the front-end architecture for another CDC project and it’s going very well.

All of that progress came at a cost though. I kind of isolated myself and worked really hard. I did do some traveling but really didn’t live life as much this year. It’s led to some depression, if I am being honest. I am pausing my work on extra curricular coding stuff for a little bit while I try to develop healthier mental and physical habits. It’s feels super vulnerable to admit that on a blog post, but I’ve always hated the artifice of social media, even though I am swayed by it too.

It’s super tempting to just say “Yup this year was AMAZING look at all this cool stuff I did” while omitting the downsides, but it’s not honest.

That’s it for this post, I hope you got something out of it. See you in the new year!

Daniel Immke

I design and build things for the web from Atlanta, Georgia. I write about topics I encounter in my day to day work here.

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