2021 Review: What I Learnt And Experienced
Whilst 2021 didn't quite go back to the way it was pre-pandemic, I developed new habits and coping strategies to deal with what seems to be the new normal. However, I also feel like I dropped certain key habits that on reflection, has affected me subconsciously. There are certain things that I wish were like before, but there are also other things that I'm grateful the pandemic has shaken up and put on a new trajectory. As I'm writing this now, we're experiencing rapid growth in the Omicron variant, so who knows what 2022 will bring. Whatever happens, I'm just grateful that my family and friends are safe and healthy at this current point in time. 😌
Software Engineering career - This is what I've spent most of my time focused on this year. Being a relatively new entrant to software engineering from an uncommon career path, I'm in a hurry to learn and absorb as much as I can, as quickly as possible. I'm really loving what I do at the moment, and have been lucky enough to have been able to try out different aspects of development work. I started the year doing web dev with React, Python and Fast API, but am ending the year doing mobile app dev with React Native and Django. In my free time, I've been filling the gaps in my computer science knowledge, in addition to learning more about Web 3 and blockchain technology. I feel extremely excited about my current career path and what next year will bring.
Personal branding - One of the things I'm extremely poor at is marketing myself. I took more of an active effort this year to improve this, starting with a revamp of my personal website which is newly rewritten with NextJS, React and Tailwind CSS (I'm using this website as my playground to try new technologies I'm interested in 😁). Starting in February 2021, I made the decision to publish one technical blog post a week, which I've stuck to without fail. The other big thing was starting an Instagram account to document my journey as a software engineer, connect with other devs in the industry and inspire others (especially those from minority backgrounds to pursue a career in tech).
Sleep - Unfortunately, my sleep is still not amazing. My ability to fall asleep goes in cycles, where there might be say, 1 week every 6 weeks or so, when I find it hard to fall asleep. I don't think caffeine is the cause, but I now only drink decaf cofee after 1pm, just in case. I'm also taking these cycles more in my stride, where instead of stressing about not sleeping, I just use the time to catch up on reading. 🤷♀️ The main downside is that I tend to then wake up later in the morning, which has meant falling out of my daily meditation habit.
Journalling - I had been keeping a daily journalling habit for the last 3 years, but it started feeling more and more like a chore this year. It just didn't feel as meaningful anymore, and I therefore consciously decided to stop the practice around September of this year. I tried digital journalling for a couple of months, but that didn't really feel right either. The issue might just have been that my days have felt rather samey, which perhaps made the daily writing feel a little monotonous. I do miss doing some kind of daily log though, and will restart again in the new year, by giving the digital journalling a second go.
Exercise - Routine exercise is hugely important to me, and being able to work out properly was something I really missed in 2020 when gyms were shut. On day 1 of gyms reopening again in April 2021, I signed up for a new gym in the neighbourhood and have been getting back into my HIIT cardio and strength workouts. I used to do A LOT of HIIT classes pre-pandemic, but I'm still not entirely comfortable with busy classes, and so have mostly been working to my own plans. I've also restarted regular sauna sessions in earnest, to improve my mood, heat tolerance, and also as a form of mindfulness (it's pretty much the only time when I'm left to my own thoughts without anything around to distract me). I've been working up my tolerance and currently end my strength days with 30 minutes in the sauna at 80-85C.
Fasting - I was the most lenient on my diet this year, than I have been in years. With all the external restrictions on us all, I did want my diet to be another tightly controlled aspect of my life. I'm still sticking to time-restricted eating though, choosing to fast for about 15+ hours a days, with an eating window of 9 hours. This year, I managed two 5 day fasting-mimicking diet stints, which I really needed and felt so much better for.
Drums - I still love playing the drums, but am not progressing as quickly as I'd like, because I'm no longer putting in as many practice hours (see above comment on my main focus this year being software engineering skills!). I definitely need to up my practice time, and be more structured and discplined in my practice. I'm thinking of getting an in-person coach to keep me on the straight and narrow next year, so let's see!
Travel - I was lucky enough to be able to escape London for 10 days in summer, when I snuck in a trip to Cyprus. It wasn't exactly my ideal holiday destination, but the weather was good and I got some time to relax and unwind, so I'm not going to complain! As I'm writing this, I'm also about to depart on my Christmas trip to France, for skiing and Disneyland Paris! Nothing makes me happier than escaping into nature and having a physically active holiday. Coupling that with childish fun and a goofy (pun intended) time will make this the perfect final trip for the year. 🏔️
Wishing you all Happy Holidays and an amazing 2022! If 2021 wasn't your year, here's to a much better 2022. Stay safe.