Boy howdy.

I don't know how to start this blog post, but I am excited to write it. I did not write one of these last year, and I felt guilty for the entire month of January. This year, I am going to adeptly skirt this guilt and write a frickin' post about what I did last year (2019) and what I want to do this year (2020).

2019

I started off the year in San Francisco, living with my best friend, while working at a company called Redbubble. Based on my last blog post I think it is safe to say I was some version of depressed during this time, though I was less certain of it then.

In fact, I am going to leave out all events from the first half of the year. Notable things did happen, both good and bad, but my memories are clouded and biased by depression. It is important to mention, because no list of accomplishments is complete without also mentioning that life has ups and downs and the following list is curated and full of only ups.

The first thing that I want to write about was in June. I launched scape.fashion, which is a web app dedicated to looking fashionable in the MMORPG (i.e. video game) called Old School Runescape. I pretty much spent all day every day working on it for about a week because I was so excited about it. Even though it is totally free to use and I knew that I would lose money hosting it, it was the first product I had launched in years and I was just happy to get it out there.

In July, after a two-week break, I decided to leave my job of 11 months. I have already written about this, so I will not say much here. It was the right decision for me and it needed to be done. After several months, I do not regret it in the slightest. There was nothing wrong with the company, I was just severely burnt out.

After leaving my job, I wanted to give myself time to recover, so I visited friends and family. I planned out a three-month trip that would allow me to recover from burn out, conserve my money, and visit family who I have seen mostly just on holidays for at least the last five years.

I sold all my things, bought a new travel backpack, and started my trip in Denver where I stayed with a friend in her converted van for a week. I had not spent much time with her in two years, so it was nice to reconnect. Also, living and sleeping in the back of a van was a new experience for me, and I would say I am better off for it. Hiking, biking, eating good (vegan) food, going to a concert, and exploring the Denver area was exactly what I needed to start my road to burnout recovery.

After Denver, I made my way to visit my aunt in Minnesota. I started here for two reasons. First, it was still early enough in the year to be warm. Second, she lives in a cabin in the woods and had a lot of physical labor for me to do. After having a sedentary job for so long, this was genuinely exactly what I wanted. I spent the month gardening, putting down plywood floor, and running electric through a detached garage/shop.

Around this time, I also started to question my gender identity. This was less of an event or accomplishment, and more of weekends poring through /r/egg_irl, YouTube, and Pinterest. I did not decide to take hormone blockers, though my hair would appreciate it, but I did come out more educated on the subject and more comfortable with non-traditional gender expression.

So, I bought a new wardrobe and painted my nails for the first time. This is nothing revolutionary, but it was a big change for myself and my own self-perception. In fact, I had actually been holding onto the idea that my plain, all-black wardrobe was tied to feeling depressed. So, buying new clothes with a little more flair was not just gender expression but also a reflection of some newfound joy. If you want to see pictures, I am going to post some, highlighting my year, further below.

After Minnesota, while making my way to Missouri, I tried LSD for the first time. I had never been even remotely that high in my life, having had only mild doses of weed in the past. The experience itself was noteworthy and enjoyable, but I certainly did not experience ego death or anything. If anything, it finally gave me a little insight into psychedelics and much less fear.

Note: If you know me and this last paragraph scares you, please do not worry about me. LSD is not a "hard" drug: It is safer than alcohol. If you have questions about the drug or my experience and want to ask someone you trust, feel free to reach out.

In September, I finally landed in my hometown of Jefferson City, Missouri. I spent the month here visiting my grandparents on my mom's side, as well as my mother herself. My grandmother went blind a few years ago, and I had felt guilty ever since then that I never spent enough time there to understand her new life or to help out. I had thought I might spend this month reflecting and thinking about my future, but instead I relaxed pretty much as hard as I could. I did yoga in the mornings and played board games with my grandfather at night.

I also pierced my nose while in Missouri. I had never gotten a piercing before, and now I have a septum ring. I have wanted a piercing for like four years, and I decided to finally go through with it. So far, I am really liking it. Maybe I will get more 😁

My next destination was Texas, where I took an overnight train (video) to attend a LAN party in Dallas. I purchased a roomette on Amtrak and it was just like out of the movies: narrow hallways, private rooms, and a dining car. It was a pretty romantic 15-hour adventure.

My last destination of 2019 was Austin, Texas to visit my dad. This was the last thing I had planned on my trip and I am glad I picked this destination. I had a suspicion that I might just stay here, and that is exactly what happened. As of writing this post, I just got back from holiday travels (back to Missouri!), and have an Airbnb here in Austin for the next three months of 2020.

I was starting to feel a little restless after staying with my family for so long, so I had booked an Airbnb in advance before visiting my dad. So, after a couple weeks staying with my dad, I moved into a hostel-like Airbnb in downtown Austin in November.

This Airbnb had five other roommates and room with a pair of bunk beds (four beds), in which I was to stay. I was pretty nervous about this setup because I had never had this many roommates before, let alone strangers as roommates. However, to my surprise, I loved it. It was so nice to have a community every single night. There was almost always someone hanging out in the living room. I think I watched Netflix with somebody almost every single night. In fact, I think this is maybe how I want to spend my first month (or longer) in any new city. The potential to make friends is just so high, and fingers-crossed 🤞 I think I made a couple.

Photo Summary

#GlowUp

Book Summary

A list of the books I read in 2019:

  • The Left Hand of Darkness
  • It Doesn't Have to be Crazy at Work
  • Crucial Conversations
  • Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials
  • Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions
  • Anarchy Works
  • The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (In Progress)

My goal was to read at least one book per month, but I definitely did not hit that. Oh well, there is always next this year.

Takeaways

I want to finish my reflection of 2019 with a few lessons learned. You have probably heard some version of these before, but I think many lessons are not meaningful until you learn them the hard way, and this is what I bumped into in 2019.

I have no choice but to be happy.
In the last four years, I have left three jobs due to burnout or boredom. No amount of trying to be happy, or trying to ignore dissatisfaction allowed me to actually be happy. Optimism without action is hopeless. I should plan better for the future knowing what will happen if I get myself into an unhappy place.

Don't put things off.
Turning 25 made me feel like things are a lot more urgent. I think I have always had this number in the back of my head since I was a kid as the last year I can put things off. Travel, learning a new language, getting a piercing, whatever.  Now I am here, and I feel old. I am too old to put things off.

Honesty is better than silence.
This is a complicated one, but it has been on my mind a lot this year. I have spent a lot of time in my life merely tolerating my environment, silent if there is something I don't like, for fear of hurting someone. Still, I do not want to hurt people. However, it is not fair for me to keep secret from people how I am feeling. It gives them no opportunity to help me or understand me. It is also not my burden to bear if my opinion means that someone will not get along with me. It is a shared burden. It is also a huge relief to just say the thing.

It is worth participating.
This is a bit of a bonus one, but I re-watched The Perks of Being a Wallflower recently, which is a movie very much about participation. I cannot express it all here, but the movie hit me harder than I expected, and I will just leave you with a quote from the end of the movie where Sam (love interest) is talking to Charlie (main character) about never expressing his feelings toward her:

You can't just sit there and put everybody's lives ahead of yours and think it counts as love.

2020

Let's move onto the resolutions portion of this blog post.

I would like to stay physically active and happy with my appearance. Specifically, my plans for this at the moment are to start my days with an at-home yoga session most mornings. I would also like to regularly ride my bike, or take long walks at least twice a week. Lastly, I would like to get into rock climbing, dance classes, or public yoga classes.

I would like to find more communities. I want to make more (close) friends. This could come from public fitness groups. I would also like to join a D&D campaign or a board game group. I would also like to join at least one cuddle party this year, as well as attend an ecstatic dance event.

Lastly, I would like to make money as an indie software developer. I think I have to accept that this is my only path forward at this point that I will not quit. Even if I find another job, my primary focus has to be launching my own software products. I do not want to have employees, run a startup, or make a million dollars. I just want to sustain myself on income from software services that I run and maintain.

Lessons

I actually have lessons I want to learn in 2020.

The idea of death has been on my mind a lot for the last few months. Thoughts of death terrify me.  I am not okay, at all, with dying. Never to come back. Me, just ceasing to exist. I want to be okay with dying. I have accepted that there is probably nothing after death, but I want to be okay with it.

I have grown a lot in my relationships with people this last year as well. With this, I think I have failed to set healthy boundaries. I have also mistaken my own selfishness for a healthy boundary. I want to learn how to set healthy boundaries. Cuddle parties are actually supposed to teach this exact lesson. Hopefully I will find out.

Another thing I realized last year, is that non-monogamy does not equal non-commitment. Growing up with monogamy as the only blueprint for a relationship left me with a lot to unlearn. I think I assumed that non-monogamy meant breakups do not happen, or that commitment does not exist. I want to learn how to commit to people. I want to learn how to work through things. How to express my feelings and desires more readily. How to forgive people and to ask for forgiveness. Non-monogamy does not mean relationships are undefined.

Conclusion

I have no idea how to end this blog post other than to say that this is abit longer than I expected but I am so relieved to have written it. I am exhausted with writing and out of juice at this point.

So... happy freaking new year 🎉

With love,
Nick