Friday Five: Insights from 2016
This is my first time doing this link up and this week, the topic was things to look forward to in 2017, but since I'm a little behind because of all the Meadow craziness, I decided to do a 2016 recap instead before I jump into what I'm doing with myself for 2017. I need some 2016 closure. And fair warning, this is a life post not a running post so the insights are a range of things.
So here we go...
1) Freelancing is fun, but not in the same field as my day job.
One of my biggest insights from 2016 is that while I enjoy freelancing, I do not enjoy freelancing in the same area as my day job (which is app, software and product user experience design). Sure, I really like designing software and products, but freelancing in that field is painful. I've been driving myself crazy thinking I need to constantly be working on side user experience projects to keep myself relevant and to boost my employability. But that just made me miserable. And stressed.
I'd much rather do freelance visual design, branding, writing, social media, or web design work on Squarespace or Wordpress rather than full-blown UX/product work. Maybe I'll change my mind on that someday, but not today. And probably not this year.
2) Speaking of my day job, I like
I can't tell you how many people throw out the "just start your own company" phrase whenever something in my career goes awry. But it's not that easy to "just start your own company," especially when you've climbed the ladder and would be hard-pressed to make up that salary any time soon (if ever). And I've got a toddler, a husband who travels, and I prefer to maintain some semblance of a workout schedule, so that doesn't leave me with a ton of time to devote to running a full-blown startup.
I do not have time for two full-time jobs and that's what that would be. Sure, I have lots of ideas for apps/software I could create, but it's not my priority right now because well...I just don't want to do it.
While I do have plans for creating products (not apps/software but physical and digital products) and adding income streams to my blog (and life), that doesn't mean I want to jump ship on my day job. It just means that I want a cushion in case the day job ever falls through (as they have and can) and I want to create that cushion doing something that's just fun for me rather than something that feels like a chore.
3) It's okay to not log all of the miles if you're sick (or worn out or burned out).
Heaven knows I spent most of this year sick and I've certainly experienced some low moments because of it. Not only was daily life exhausting, but I couldn't do one of things that helps with stress: run (and race). At least I couldn't run as well or as much or as long as I wanted to.
At first when I started missing workout after workout after workout, I felt horribly guilty. And then I'd slog through a few and feel miserable. And my race performance went right into the garbage. It's all been so frustrating, but while running is awesome, it's not my life. I don't have to run all the miles. It's okay to miss a race. It's okay to miss a work out or several if you aren't feeling well. Sometimes that's the only way to get better.
4) Charleston is not the paradise I expected it to be.
Don't get me wrong. It's a beautiful city. We have beaches and culture and food and tons of things to do. But it's also been a bit weird for me here. And very unexpectedly so. Maybe it's my fault for falling for the glittering marketing campaigns and articles touting "Silicon Harbor" and I certainly never anticipated that my allergies and asthma would be so incredibly bad here.
Other than the job that brought me here, I've had mostly unfavorable experiences in the Charleston area tech scene. It's not that it's a bad tech scene. It's just that it's very young (in age/career level and in development stage). The Bay Area it is not. It's not even Austin or Seattle.
There really isn't a place for someone like me here at my career level. If the tech scene keeps growing, eventually there will be, but fortunately I don't need to work in Charleston to live in Charleston. Remote work is awesome and I'm so happy to have found a remote job that I really like that allows me to stay in this gorgeous city.
As far as the asthma and allergy issues...well, I'm hoping I get that under control soon with allergy shots (and with getting my iron and vitamin D boosted back up to healthy levels). I am feeling a little better, but it's not a short journey back to normalcy.
Reconciling all of that was a bit disappointing, but knowing is half the battle, right?
5) Parenthood is so hard and it never gets easier. It just gets different.
Being a parent is hands down the toughest thing I've ever done in my life. It's so hard. Sometimes it seems utterly impossible to balance work, family, hobbies, and all of the craziness life throws my way without completely melting down.
And I know it's not going to get easier. No phase has been easier than the last. In fact, it seems like the opposite. The newborn phase (once I got past all of the icky issues I had the first several weeks) seems so much easier than today with a full-blown toddler who has opinions and spunk and attitude. But with each phase I adjust and there's no denying it's pretty fun watching this tiny human grow, learn and become his own person (tantrums and all).
So while 2016 wasn't my favorite year ever, there were still things to learn and paths to forge. I made a lot of changes last year, some forced, some intentional, but now as I start to emerge - not unscathed, but I survived - and see the possibilities of 2017, I know I'm in a much better place than I was last year at this time.