What happened in 2019?

A lot actually. But before I go into all that, let me tell you why I am writing this post. A friend of my partner started sending year-end emails to their friends and encouraged them to write and share their own as well. After a few years, I too became a recipient of such emails and it was enriching reading the author’s reflection on the year that passed. For one, I am always genuinely curious about peoples’ life stories and the lessons therein. And second, it urged me to think and retrospect. Somewhere I read, life is a series of wins, draws and losses. I don;t believe that. I believe life is a series of experiences that can potentially make us better persons if we choose to learn from them. So, without further ado, here’s what happened in my life this year.

I changed my job. Well, it’s more of a change of a company than a job. I am still an engineer building software. But now I am building a high performance file system service on cloud instead of an emulator for hardware chip designs. It’s difficult to decide the change of impact of my work, but I think I am now working on a product that is used by more customers than the one I was working before. The change like most changes has been mixed with discomfort and uncertainty. But it has been both exciting and fulfilling at the same time so far. Everyone, I believe, should ask these two questions about their work life – Are they learning something new everyday? Are they enjoying their work? And I have been feeling positive about both these answers. I expect, I’ll take some more time to become as impactful as I was in my past job. But that’s a journey I am excited to take and perhaps will be the subject of the next year’s post.

The other most exciting opportunity that landed on me was my talk at cppcon. I decided to try speaking at technical conferences almost four years back and I have been sending talk proposals to difference conferences each year since then. And every one of them has been seeing rejection until the last one. For some reason, I never thought of (or dared to) sending a proposal to cppcon even though I have been working all my career on that very programming language the conference is all about. The fact that I didn’t stop submitting talks to conferences even after all those rejections speaks of my perseverance and strong desire for public speaking. And I believe if there’s anything at all to learn from here, it is that. I would also like to add “course correction” to that list. But to be true, many other talk submissions before this talk got rejected where I applied all that I learned is necessary to make a submission strong. And this particular talk which was accepted was in fact written hurriedly and submitted at the last minute. But something extra-ordinary (at least for me) happened this time. The conference chair wrote back and asked me to improve the talk proposal by adding more details to it. The program committee accepted after I reworked my talk submission and that’s how I got to speak at cppcon.

Some people are prone to think they don’t deserve what they got and they are a fraud. I too am guilty of entertaining such thoughts. After the initial euphoria after hearing back that my talk has been selected, I started doubting if they made a mistake by selecting my talk. But then something wonderful happened at the conference. I was invited to speak at a panel on Diversity and Inclusion in the C++ community and I shared my little inner conflict when somebody asked about imposter syndrome. The cppcon program committee chair was present in the audience and he assured me after the panel discussion that they were confident of each and every talk at the conference. I am boundlessly thankful for my experience at the conference and my interaction with the people there.

Another fulfilling achievement of this year has been at my previous job where I designed and coded a significant performance improvement. There were times when I felt alone and unsure of the outcome. But eventually the tests showed optimistic results. It’s often difficult to imagine the future and easy to get disheartened at the present. But experiences like these keep a good reminder of never losing sight of the end.

You already might have noticed a pattern in all the experiences I shared here. And it’s not particularly an earth-shattering one. If you persevere, you might reach where you want to be.

Wish you a wonderful 2020!