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The Best Year in a While

Now that I’m back from vacation and have some time to write, I want to take a quick look back at 2023. Well, I don’t think a quick look will be that possible given how many awesome things happened but I’ll at least give it a shot.

It’s so hard to believe it’s only been a year since I was getting ready to start my final semester at university. You could tell me it’s been three already and I’d probably believe you. I finished fairly strong, or at least compared to the year before which was easily my most difficult. Having the end so close in sight paid off and I’m glad I was able to push through. And now that it’s over I can finally look back on it with a little nostalgia.

I was able to get into a full time software engineer role straight out of school, which I’m grateful for. It’s in a great spot too and puts us close to family. I’m learning a lot and I’m excited to see where it takes me.

A lot more than that happened, but those were the two biggest personal milestones that happened last year. In 2023 I also took on a couple personal projects.

One of those projects was a Windows 98 themed task tracker. You can read more about it in the dedicated post I wrote for it. It’s nothing super amazing but I had fun writing it. I feel like not being in school gave me a little bit more of a drive to engage in personal projects like this one. I still use it almost every day too!

Another project was the new computer I built. I’ve followed computer hardware from a distance for a while but this was the first time I really dove in and built a PC myself. I had more fun then I expected planning it out and it really feels like my own! I’m incredibly glad I decided to finally get a capable gaming machine now that all my friends and family have been starting to spread out across the country. I’ve been able to make some really good memories with them just in the short time since I completed the build.

Pretty soon I’m planning on writing more about the games I enjoyed in 2023, likely with an emphasis on ones that were especially good with other people.

I started a Mastodon server around late July at lowkey.zone. It’s been pretty pleasant having a quiet corner of the fediverse. It’s still just me and a small handful of others hanging out on it, but I’ve got sign ups open and wouldn’t mind seeing it grow into something bigger. It’s a good experience either way though.

I dabbled a bit in learning some other new things here and there, like game development with PICO-8 and 3D modeling with Blender. I didn’t get terribly far with either (not necessarily from disinterest), but hey, there’s plenty of time to pick them back up in 2024.

Looking even further back

Overall I’m really happy with what I accomplished in 2023. Not necessarily because of what exactly I did, or how much, or the enjoyment. I’m happy because I’ve had times and even an entire year that felt like big duds more or less. I wanted to quit school. I went through some real burn out. So to be on the other side of that where I have drive again just feels great.

And the burn out wasn’t all bad looking back on it. Catching it during school wasn’t ideal, but I’m fairly certain of the problems that led to it now. Those problems are things that I could easily be faced with again, especially in software engineering. Now that I can recognize them more easily I’m hopeful I’ll be able to address them early if and when I see them again, when the stakes might be slightly higher.

I guess the point of all this is that I figure odds are good that someone who’s stumbled across this is in a similar situation to the one I was in. I can’t tell you what it is you need to do to find your motivation again, but I can tell you that bad times aren’t always wasted times and they’re not permanent. It might not be what you had in mind, but you’ll eventually come out of it wiser and with a clearer head.

Here’s to an even better 2024.

— JP

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