I’ve never been so glad to see a year go to an end. 2020 was grueling for me. It was full of challenges and some key victories. At about the eight-month point of COVID-19, I had to admit to myself that I was feeling worn out. Christmas vacation has been refreshing with time spent on relaxation and personal projects.
What I’ve gained…
Looking back into 2020, it took me a while to acknowledge everything that I gained in what was otherwise a bad, bad year. Top of the list is my career pivot. While I was happy as a technical writer for years, I stayed too long at the party when you get down to it. Deep down, I knew it for the last few years of my technical writer career. I took my own time to follow the signs to get out and take the next step.
Over the years, I’ve had the honor and pleasure of working on some solid teams. I could say this even inside some dysfunctional organizations. Then again, I’ve worked with my share of teams full of work martyrs, with VPs, and directors only out for a participation trophy. It took the pandemic and a job change to get back to a smaller company where there was less room for people to hide.
Onboarding to a new company during a pandemic was a strange experience, even when the process is done well. The experience gave me a refresher course on relationship building during a career pivot.
Renewing old friendships has been another focus of mine during the pandemic. Some problems reside with me over the years for letting some things go.
I was always a little against writing for free or writing for the technology community. It’s for no reason other than spending so much of my working life living a writing schedule set to billable work only. Writing for opensource.com kept me busy, distracted, and writing at some low points during the pandemic for me. I met some nice people and worked with editors that made writing for them easy. I plan to do more with them in 2021.
What I’ve lost…
Lonely is one word I used to describe the last couple of months. My father used to call me my own best friend when I was a kid. I could keep myself occupied as a kid. Later on, in adulthood, I spent a lot of time solitary at the keyboard and writing and feeling completely fulfilled. It’s hard for me to find that same magic during the pandemic. I’m getting my work done and even doing a lot more writing for myself with the extra time.
I lost a steady freelance writing gig because taking my current position would’ve been a conflict of interest in the editors’ eyes. It was a shock at first because of the good run I had with this site. I then grew to understand their position after remembering some seedier things I saw earlier in my freelance career. Sometimes I joke that I’m a byline whore. That loss made me think it wasn’t a joke. However, if I hadn’t freelanced for this client, I may not have been able to make the career pivot I made. The byline whore in me appears to be gone now.
Motivation — the lack thereof — to make it to the gym is a big thing I lost during the pandemic. I had self-discipline and would even call the gym my happy place. I’m coming up with some new strategies to return to a more regular fitness routine in 2021.
Time has become more challenging to measure in month nine of the pandemic. While I haven’t missed a deadline, I have to set a few more reminders so I don’t forget anything I need to do. There’s a never-ending task list in Todoist that’s always there for me when I need something to do. The passage of time during the pandemic makes it feel like my life is moving in slow motion.
2021, here I come…
They save vaccinations are on the horizon. Suffice it to say. I’m pretty far down the list regardless of the government can execute their plan or not. My next step is to enter 2021 feeling rejuvenated after some time off. My ideas are flowing. It still feels good to create content despite the stress of being stuck at home all these months.
My name is Will Kelly. I’m the technical marketing manager for a container security startup. Before that, I spent my career as a technical writer working on projects in the public and commercial sectors. I’ve written about the cloud and DevOps for InfoWorld, InfoQ, TechTarget, and others. Follow me on Twitter: @willkelly.