The biggest challenge of 2022 for me personally was job changes. Up until June, I had a job that I loved at Pattern Health, working with old friends at a startup and building new skills. It was about all I could ask for until one day in June when my boss called me into an impromptu Zoom meeting to tell me the board was cutting the workforce and I had been laid off. My manager, John, is a good friend. He was as surprised and saddened as anyone and I know it must have been tough for him to do it. I didn’t take it personally – startups don’t always succeed – but it is never convenient to have to look for work. The silver lining is that within two days, I had 42 leads from my huge network of friends. I had to make a spreadsheet to keep up with all the suggestions.
After a vigorous job search I wound up getting three job offers. I politely turned the first one down. The team was really nice but the role itself was largely Windows-focused and I didn’t want my Linux skills to atrophy. The second was for a local startup company that would’ve gotten me (or at least one foot of me) back into sales engineering in addition to DevOps. I considered it but turned it down as well since I didn’t think I clicked with upper management and there were some things I saw that raised some ethical questions.
I wound up taking the third offer even though it was significantly lower than the other two. It was for an even tinier startup because the company was intriguing and I would be working a four-day workweek. I felt good about working for a company that claimed to want to give back, and was looking forward to having some extra time to devote to my own projects. Well, it turned out the company didn’t really live up to its values. Material information was withheld until after I’d accepted the offer. My manager did not play well with others, alienating me as well as the developers we ostensibly were serving. The DevOps work I had hoped to be doing never materialized. The four-day work week? Well, they didn’t really mean that. I was relieved when we parted ways. To think that I had chosen this employer based on ethics is laughable now.
So, 2022 is in the books. It was another year on the planet, another year of learning, and for that I am grateful. Still, a few of the lessons of 2022 were pretty shitty ones, overall. Even so, there were great achievements in 2022 as well. So here’s a recap. This year I will mention the things that didn’t go so well right at the start, so that I can focus on the things that did go so well. Part of my focus for 2023 is to celebrate the good things, of which there are many and to which I don’t typically give proper credit.
Today marks one year since I decided to stop drinking alcohol. I can’t say I really planned to get here. It started out as an experiment to see how abstaining would affect my health. I figured that I would probably sleep better and feel batter about my health if I stopped drinking. I was not a heavy drinker. I usually stopped at one drink and can’t remember a recent time where it was ever more than two. Still, I had gotten into the habit of having one drink in the evening and that over time would add up.
One thing I asked myself is why I was drinking. I recognized that alcohol often gives one freedom to shift blame for one’s own behavior. “Blame it on the booze.” I was never one to act crazy, regardless, but I decided it is better to own my behavior at all times.
There are also some people who drink because they aren’t happy with their lives. While my life does have its challenges (just like everyone else’s), again I would own my behavior and accept my situation, whatever it may be. I want to always be clear-eyed.
So, an initial two week trial period soon became a month. A month became six months. Six months became a year. I attended many parties, social events, and company meals where drinks were consumed by others but not by me. Previous attempts to stop drinking always seemed awkward when I would be out somewhere and the only one not drinking. Not this time around! I have learned that I can still have fun, be myself, entertain, and not drink. I feel no compulsion now whatsoever to drink.
It’s been an investment in my health, both physical and mental. I have lost weight and gotten rid of my gut. I sleep better now and remember my dreams far better than I once did. My mood is better. Most of all, I take pride in who I am and don’t feel the need to cede my power to alcohol.
As my streak continued, I debated whether I would have a celebratory drink on my one-year anniversary. In light of the improvements that this choice has brought me, I don’t feel the need for any celebratory drink. This is a path that has proven worthy of following. I think I will see where it leads.