2021: The Year in Review

2021 was a very long year. In part because we didn't get to decompress after 2020, in part because a lot of 2020 stayed with us through the entire 2021, and in part because of a bunch of personal stuff that happened.

Dec 28, 2021 6 min read
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2021 was a very long year. In part because we didn’t get to decompress after 2020, in part because a lot of 2020 stayed with us through the entire 2021, and in part because of a bunch of personal stuff that happened.

As you may or may not know, in my family the New Year is the holiday of the season. When most people are taking down their house decorations, we are just putting them up (to avoid confusion, we mostly decorate inside): the New Year tree, presents, and such. For the past few years we decided against exchanging gifts for the sake of the exchange: there’s enough garbage in the world for us to buy some more just because of a calendar date and just because we have to.

In any case, the end of the year is not only the biggest holiday of the year for me, but also a time to reflect on the year, take stock of my progress, and make plans for the year ahead.

American democracy is (likely) doomed

The year that begins with an insurrection is not a good year for American democracy. The year when the insurrection and an earnest coup attempt by an outgoing president and his entire administration is even worse. But the worst part is that this failed coup attempt did not result in a unanimous, bipartisan, unequivocal condemnation. I mean, sure the FBI is working on it, hundreds of insurgents are being arrested and charged, but the overall response by the political class and by the nation in general was flaccid at best.

I’ve seen countries fall in a blink of an eye. I personally witnessed it twice: once in 1991 when I watched tanks heading towards Moscow during the August Coup, and then about a decade later when Putin started to usurp power in earnest and began turning Russia back into Soviet Union. While there were major differences in the way these two events unfolded, they were similar in many ways: they both led to unraveling of the country.

If you think that the American flavor of democracy is somehow immune to these things, think again. It’s not, it may and in all likelihood will happen here. And with one of (only) two major parties making every effort to prevent their opponents from voting, and the other party being so anemic while running the government, the American Democracy® and the entire American Experiment™ is all but doomed. We will see this country disintegrate within our lifetimes, and it makes me very sad #EndTheFilibuster #VotingRightsBIllNow #EatTheRich

While resistance is futile, I joined the Democratic Socialists of America to see if I can make the best out of this unfortunate situation.

COVID remained a factor

While a lot of things got back to some variation of “normal”, for the most part this year was still a full-on pandemic year. Hundreds of thousands of people died of COVID-19, albeit most of them deliberately unvaccinated. People kept struggling to get their jobs back, and the economy was still in a state of flux. It’s important to remember that the economy is not the stock market, and that the stock market is not the economy (and not even necessarily reflective or the economy). The struggle is real, and it’s much more real for those essential for the actual economy. With this being said, the labor shortage got some bargaining power in the hands of the working class, which is without a doubt a great thing.

For my family the pandemic kept affecting our plans, specifically, our plans of getting together. With embassies closed or working at limited capacity and with other government agencies significantly underperforming, a lot of our long-term plans were (and still are) in jeopardy.

Personally, I’m extremely privileged and lucky to be in a position of not being affected by the pandemic. I work from home at a company that gives a shit about me (not personally, but as an employee). When Auth0 was acquired by Okta in the spring of this year, it benefited me a lot. Financially, it was a good year for me as well. So much so that I’ve got to buy a house.

We bought a house

This is probably the biggest event of the year for me. In early January, I sold my rental house in Georgia (with a written provision in the contract that my tenants will be able to remain in the house and their rent will not change for at least another year), and with some financial luck that followed the acquisition of Auth0, I was able to come up with about 10%-worth of downpayment and buy a house for us here in Arlington, WA. It’s not a dream house by any stretch of imagination, but it’s our house and we’re turning it into a home.

Work got… interesting

Work was, well, interesting this year. I’ve accepted another role within the company, but it turned out to be a complicated affair. I got to work on a new process and a new team, which was pretty awesome. However, a lot of my initial assumptions and working theories were wrong, and by the end of the year our team shifted from its initial purpose to a new one. I’m building a net-new product, and as much as I love coding, its success is still an open question. On the bright side, I learn a lot and my team is pretty great.

What I learned

  • TypeScript and scaffolding and building new products
  • Creating two open-source projects that hundreds of people use every day was fun (check out Sanity Autocomplete Tags and Current Apple Music)
  • Family is everything
  • It’s possible to improve one’s mental health by prioritizing it over work
  • Analog is the shit: I journal, take notes, plan on paper, and it’s been a smashing success

Win of the Year

A family member landed in the US as a permanent resident, and, well, buying a house.

Fail of the Year

My failure to recognize mental health warning signs in time, and my inability to act decisively to get to work on things I want to work on.

What I’m looking forward to in 2022

My expectations for 2022 are really, really low. I hope to rectify this year’s failures, keep working on my mental health, rest way more than I’m used to, and hopefully travel a bit more. I also hope to attend a few conferences and give a talk at one of them :) I mean, reach for the stars, am I right?!