I started this draft over a month ago. It's been sitting empty ever since. I couldn't even really process what was happening in my life at that moment, let alone reflect on the entire year. But after taking the time to adjust to my new normal, I've got a lot of thoughts about where I'm at, what I'm doing, and where I'm headed.

I won't go into too much detail about the first half of 2021 since I actually have a couple blog posts from that time that go into good detail about what I was up to - like finishing Launch School's Core Curriculum, starting Capstone, and even finishing Capstone.

Where I'm At

My post-Capstone life has been rather busy (hence the lack of posts). I spent the majority of September and October job searching, and landed at a FinTech startup Ridgeline - by the way, we're hiring - working as a DevOps Engineer.

I spent the last few months of 2021 getting accustomed to life at Ridgeline and specifically ramping up my efforts on the Build Engineering team. We handle the build and release processes for the product along with miscellaneous tooling to make our product engineers' lives easier. I've always been a fan of developer experience and creating abstractions on top of complex systems, so I feel right at home.

In addition to that, I've also made quite the move: from Nashville, TN to Reno, NV. That's about a 2,100 mile difference (and 4,000 feet in elevation). I spent my entire life in southern Kentucky and middle Tennessee, so I was more than excited to experience a new region. It's been a little stressful, as moving always is, but so far I'm loving my new life in Reno.

What I'm Doing

As I mentioned, my team handles the build and release process for the product. That means a lot of AWS - CodeBuild, CodePipeline, Lambda, and more depending on the specific service. We also maintain our internal CLI that engineers can use to more easily interface with AWS and other internal systems.

But - surprise! - life is more than work. While my job can be very demanding at times, I've felt very respected by Ridgeline and have a great balance between what I'm doing for work and what I do outside of work.

Recently, I've been working through Benjamin Anderson's course on Godot, which I highly recommend. I've dabbled in game development before but nothing serious - my goal for this year is to put out 1-3 "mini" games and this is the first time I've truly felt well-equipped to commit to that. I've really enjoyed working with Godot, and I think game development is a really fascinating intersection of all of my skills and hobbies, so I'm excited to see where that leads me!

I've also spent a lot of time journaling and making art, mostly for catharsis. If you don't have a hobby that's offline and not-for-consumption, I also highly recommend finding one. It seems with the advent of social media and the idea of "polywork", so many people get tied up in trying to monetize or build a platform for the things they're doing. And by all means, if that's what you want to do, go for it! But there's something special about making something solely for yourself in an age of hyper-consumption.

Where I'm Headed

There's not much specifics I've got in mind for the future, since it's so unpredictable. I've committed to a few small things for this year: go outside more, turn three of my short stories into small games, and read more.

I think this is the first time I've been comfortable with the unknown. When I first started Launch School, I would see these really successful folks who had gone through the program and never actually thought I could do the same. But it just kind of hit me earlier today, after I was in a Zoom call with those very people, that I had made it to the other side.

This is the first time in my life where I've truly felt the impact of potential. I'm very open about my previous (and current!) struggles with mental health, and in the past it's always felt like I've had this potential that I never lived up to. Impostor syndrome still hits hard every now and then (especially as a college dropout surrounded by Berkeley and Cornell grads), but I feel generally competent for the first time. I know that life has lots of twists and turns and that planning ahead is all moot - but if I look at where I've been and where I am now, I know that wherever it takes me I'll be able to handle it.