2020

updated about 2 months ago
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6 min read
Now that we're proceeding through the end of an interesting year, I scribbled a few words to look back and smile (or cry).
When we put the disastrous consequences aside, I'm grateful to 2020 since it brought us an inevitable silence and solitude. However, sovereignty is a heavy responsibility to adapt quickly. I'm pretty sure even the best productivity gurus had troubles when they left unwillingly isolated.
I summarize this year with three words: anxiety, uncertainty, and self-control. Depending on our capacity and mode, that trio could be the best and worst that can happen during isolation. Based on my experience, there's no middle ground. This path can lead to the lands of misery or something slightly better than that. The key is to accept and deal with the discomfort instead of running away from it. As Mark Manson says, pain is the universal constant, it's always there. We can choose to suffer from pain by avoiding and pursuing fake happiness. Or we can grow by facing, experiencing, and letting it go.

The realm of self-destruction

At the beginning of this year, I started to work at a distributed team. It's a tech-heavy squad full of all-stars that resides at the heart of a 300-developer ecosystem. It was a challenging journey to find myself a place to exist and contribute. However, the distance and workload made it hard to adapt. The inadequacy I felt as the rookie within the all-stars brought me nothing but disappointment. I was slow and not productive. By the time we entered the first lockdown, I made the mistake of searching for fulfillment on games. Not surprisingly, that path led me into a rabbit hole and established a daily routine that resembles the university's first year.
I woke up at 8:45 (15 minutes before our daily team-meeting), took a shower, worked till 18:00, then played games till I fell asleep (usually around 3 AM). My perception of time debilitated within games, coffee, snacks, and sleepless nights. Since I moved to Berlin (November 2018), I've been keeping a journal, and I even broke that habit. There was nothing to write about because every day was the same. I don't even mention eating, reading, and social aspects. I raised an obnoxious behemoth for about three months.
As the quarantine and the weather improved (I also got stuck at Gold 5 after 300 games of League of Legends), something finally happened. I listened to the last logical piece left inside me and took two weeks off. Retrospectively, I was proud of the effectiveness of my self-destruction. As a consequence, there was no other way than the other extreme.

Who was that guy?

First, I built an inviting space to work at. Then I jumped back on the productivity train by reading books such as Digital Minimalism and Make Time. I attempted a cleanse by lending my soul to habit tracking apps and my body to the calendar.
It undoubtedly helped me to get back on track. But please don't do it to yourself unless you are sick of getting your ass kicked by a bunch of 12 year-olds in every game, every day, till 3 AM.
I kept this schedule for several months, and my days converged into relatively liveable ones. Nowadays, I'm trying to minimize my expectations from the outcome and focus on the processes instead.
  • I'm trying to understand why I am doing what I am doing, discover what I value, and eliminate routines that don't contribute to my values.
  • I read every day for at least an hour and try to write to empathize with the authors. Facing the blank page also helps to get better at handling discomfort.
  • I built this website to support the idea of learning in public and consistently filling it to feed the process.
  • I'm planning to leave Klarna when I get my permanent residency. I want to work on something that is "doing well while doing good" instead of championing consumerism. In the meantime, I will switch back to a product team that collaborates with many groups across the ecosystem, aiming to share the expertise obtained while working on the client architecture.
Still, there's an infinitely scrolling list of anxieties in my head.
I'm glad they exist; it means that there's a lot to do.
That's enough about me.
Here's a list of some cool things that might be useful for you.

Enlightenments

Books published this year that I read in awe

Books not published this year, but I still read in awe

Podcasts of the voices I heard more than any living creature

Tunes on repeat

Series binge-watched with no regrets

Miscellaneous mediums I spent many hours

And now, it's your turn.
Tell us what did 2020 do to you.
Share what helped you to keep going.
altay@aydemir.io
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