2020+ Part 2 - A retrospective on the whole decade
This is a two-part post. In Part 1, I gave a list of things I enjoyed the most throughout the decade. Feel free to skip it if you like, though.
Well, what a decade it has been. The first half of the decade felt pretty miserable. Coming into the decade, I don’t seem to have a grasp on where my life is going. It’s safe to say that I took a huge bet when I tried to go full-on into this whole “web development” thing, since I came from a less-ideal path when it comes to becoming a professional web developer.
Nevertheless, I had done it.
Crossing “The Gap”
Ira Glass talked about “the gap” that people come across whenever they do creative work, which I put into practice all the time. I really had no strategy to make me go this far, other than to throw everything I had out there and hope that something sticks. Doesn’t matter if it’s good or not, but once you’re done with it and published it, it’s out there. And who knew, people might come across it by happy accident, and people will start to notice your work.
That’s how I got into doing web development professionally in the first place.
I also tried to learn a lot from the people I look up to. And if they were also really keen on it, I asked them if we could do some neat little side projects. Like, I don’t know, just for fun? Over time, all of these people I used to look up to noticed me enough that I ended up becoming part of their “clique”. Those were really the moments that validated my life choices, and again, I felt very grateful.
Sharing passion, spreading knowledge
Web development is my passion, and one of the ways I could share my passion is to take what I learned and share it with others. I’ve always learned about the value of knowledge sharing, and decided to take everything I learned, and try to spread them around to others.
So, I started blogging.
I took the time occasionally to write down something that I learned, and put them together into blog articles. My general rule was to write down things that I knew I’ll need it again sometime in the future, and over time, I still look back into a lot of them for reference. And not to mention the look on my face when my friends told me that they tried to look up on how to do things, only to come across an article that I previously wrote.
This was also the moment when I started being active on local development communities, and do public speaking. Be it attending their meetups/events, doing talks, or taking in organisational roles (like in JakartaJS and ReactJS Indonesia). It helped me connect with people that I look up to, as well as helping me open up more in a public environment.
I knew that as an introvert, speaking to a bunch of strangers, let alone in front of an audience, felt very frightening. And I still feel that way to this day, even though I can control it better nowadays. The first time I ever gave a meetup talk was in front of an audience of almost 100. Yes, I decided to go big on my first ever meetup talk. So of course, the stage fright started kicking in, and oh boy, imagine how the look on my face would be like if I fucked it up.
Despite that, I successfully pulled it off.
Looking back, I know there were many things I could improve, like reducing the use of filler noises, regulating my breath better (though I guess that was a side effect of my stage fright!), but overall… it wasn’t a very bad first attempt, was it?
Another high moment of my decade was attending my first ever overseas conference, JSConf Asia 2019 in Singapore. I get to meet community leaders, and other developers, some of which I have met and interacted with online, and I never thought I would meet them in person. Now that’s an experience I can’t afford trading away for anything else, and I hope I’ll be able to attend JSConf again for 2020!
Being an independent content creator
Over time, I realised that the stuff I wrote and built over the past decade provided me a good platform to create web development-based content for people to learn from.
Aside from blog posts, I started to do live coding on Twitch. I got the inspiration to do so when I started watching art streams around early 2019. And over the course of watching them, I slowly learned the process behind drawing artworks. From the intial sketch, to lineart, to colouring and finishing touches.
Watching streams from artists like cottonwings, Mr_Randomnese, or Natsumen (aka. Capssimistic) sparked that inspiration to start doing live coding streams, because I wanted to bring those experiences to web development. I do stream video games occasionally, but I’d love to keep it on a 60/40 coding/gaming ratio.
I’ve also opened a tip jar, for people so interested in my work they wanted to throw money at me! First it was on Ko-fi, then on Saweria (built by my good friend Theo!), and finally on Karyakarsa. I do want to keep my own content as independently-produced as possible, so I want to make it sure that everything is funded by all of you reading this. I never run ads on my website. Nor do I take requests from people to “review” their stuff. This ain’t a review blog anyway.
The journey to make this viable might be a long one, but hey, one’s gotta start somewhere, right?
Reflecting back, this whole decade has seen me going through tremendous changes in my life, both professionally and personally. I am so grateful about everything that I couldn’t afford trading them away for anything else. I couldn’t be any more humbled at where I am now. The stuff I have shipped over the years. The people that I have met. The friendships that were built, broken, and - in rare cases - rebuilt. The fact that I’ve finally come into terms with my mental state, and being able to (mostly) control it.
Coming into the end of the decade, I started to realise that work-life balance is important. It’s okay to take a small break occasionally, because you do have a life outside of your professional life. Sometimes, small progresses triumphs over quick wins, and I’m going to make sure that if I feel like I’m going a little too fast, it’s okay to slow down a bit.
All of these might look like a bunch of rambly thoughts quickly cobbled together, which they honestly are. But if you managed to read them through to the end, thank you.
To all my friends, mutuals, everyone who I’d met/talked to over the past decade, thank you for the opportunity to share my experiences with you.
I’m finally ready to make peace with the 2010s, and to take on the 2020s.
Here’s to the next decade.