Friday, December 25, 2020

State of the Me: 2020-2021

Hello 2021! I've got to admit it's getting better... but I'm not quite where I want to be just yet.

Let's start with my career since that's the facet of my life I've focused the most effort on lately. 

In August, I passed my Certified Kubernetes Administrator exam. I'm proud of this accomplishment because I haven't taken a timed exam this difficult since graduate school, so I was stepping outside of my comfort zone a bit. But I worked hard at preparing myself, and it was a lot of stress, but I succeeded.

It turns out that I was absolutely right to prioritize passing this exam. Engineers with this certification are the hottest, most sought-after group in IT at the moment. Kubernetes is already on its way to becoming the industry standard for running software in the cloud -- so every company wants to move in that direction. But it's so new that very few people have any significant experience with it. Hence this certification takes the place of years of experience when finding professionals with real Kubernetes expertise.

Armed with this credential, I finally landed a new job back in the climate change / carbon reduction sector! I'll be starting on the first of February. Everything about it seems to align perfectly with what I've been looking for in a job, in terms of the type of company it is and the types of projects. I'll even be back to working at Zürich's startup central -- Technopark -- which should be fun!

I just hesitate to take a victory lap before I've gotten a chance to see how it will go. When I accepted my current job (the one I'm leaving), I figured it would be less stressful than my last one since the management and business strategy are someone else's problem. Management can do any crazy thing they want -- as long as I can carve out a comfortable little niche for myself, I'm fine. Yet somehow I wasn't quite able to do even that, for various reasons that I will analyze at length once I have the luxury of viewing it in hindsight.

So, yeah, another year, another job. I guess that's the worry -- if I couldn't make things work out the way I wanted in these last two jobs, will I ever succeed? OTOH, I have high hopes that this time I've triangulated in on the job I had wanted from the beginning, one where I can do work that I'm proud of and feel good about. To be really useful, as all the good little engines want to be.

Then, of course, since all of these career challenges have eaten up all of my attention and more over the past few years, I still haven't been able to get where I want to be with my creative projects. My comic book was supposed to be done by the first half of 2020, and it's still not done. I'm happy with the parts I did this year, but the process is just too slow. I think I can speed it up by addressing some technological challenges. (My tablet is too small and has some problems with responsiveness.)

I think if I can just get to the point where I'm not constantly stressing out about my job, then I can finally enjoy working on my comic book and get energized about some fun, new creative projects that I'd really like to get to work on. And if that succeeds, maybe I'll even have some time to declutter my apartment.

Regarding the world at large, I'm happy that Trump will finally be leaving the White House. As I've said before, I don't agree with the people who said that voting him out is the "right" way to get him out -- he should have been impeached and convicted within the first year of his presidency. Whether the president is above the law is not a question that should be up for popular vote (or some weirdly-derived subset of the popular vote). If the US system can't eject a president for constantly and openly breaking the law, then the system is broken. But this band-aid is better than nothing. The bare last line of defense has held firm against the deadly march of fascism -- when there was no guarantee that it would. Hopefully this victory will help turn the tide and encourage the people to make serious changes and fix things for real.

In my own little family, things are basically on track. The four of us are closer than perhaps we've ever been. Now that the kids are adults, or nearly, we can share ideas and have conversations where we're on essentially the same level. Nico is doing well in his game development studies, and Léo is planning to apply to go to the same school as Nico next fall. Hopefully by then they'll be able to attend their classes in person and have more opportunity to meet other people their own age, but I think it has actually been helpful for Nico to start his studies without the extra pressure of socializing.

And we're all on track to become citizens of Switzerland soon!

So I guess I don't have a lot to complain about this time. It's good to take the time to write it all down and remind myself of the big picture while I'm stuck sitting around the house feeing annoyed about getting older (and all that entails) as I approach 50. But I'm far from done with what I plan to do in life -- and if I've succeeded in getting my career back on track and if I can finally dig into my creative projects productively in 2021, I do believe I'll be OK.

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