2021 Retrospective


It’s been quite a while since I’ve published a blog post on this site. I don’t really have a good excuse for that. There were times when I wanted to write but they were rare and fleeting. And I don’t want to put half-hearted posts out even if they were only for myself. Now a new year is rolling around and I have to make some changes.

2021 was an insane year – for myself and for many others, I assume. This year I went back to Ukraine after more than decade since my last visit, made friends out of acquaintances and acquaintances out of friends, dropped out of college again, bought my first car, got a promotion at work, lost most of my savings, and made up for a ~year of isolation by going out and having a damn good time.

So, what did I learn this year?

Experiences and people matter most

Throughout 2020 and partially 2021, I very effectively convinced myself that I was content being alone. I think most people did something similar. Honestly, it was almost a requirement in order to get through a period of time when human interaction was incredibly difficult. And being an introvert, this made sense to my brain.

Then I got vaccinated and Los Angeles started to open up. And I bought my first car. My car. It was like going from solitary confinement to, well, freedom. I hit the ground running – roadtrips, late night drives to friends’ houses, a new restaurant I’ve never tried after work. I was driving more than ever and seeing people, interacting with them and experiencing things.

This is so obvious with hindsight but in those moments I didn’t realize how wrong I was to convince myself that I could live without all of this. I can’t and I wouldn’t want to.

Being alone is, of course, perfectly fine. I value being alone as much (and sometimes more) than being around others. But there must be that balance. It’s different for everyone and I’m sure I haven’t found the right combination for myself but I did accept that both are valuable.

Financial shock

If you look at my goals for 2021, you’ll see that one of them was to hit 20k in savings. I actually did achieve that goal. And it was such a sweet sight. There’s a certain comfort that comes with having months and months of living expenses in the bank ready to be deployed if needed. I made grand plans of paying off my biggest debts and was generally ecstatic.

What followed was a swift slap in the face from life. Our trip to Ukraine that was postponed because of COVID would go ahead in mid-2021. Yikes, thousands gone for the plane ticket and spending cash while we’re in the country.

Time to buy a car because sharing one when both my mom and I work was getting… tricky. We did a lease-to-buy but even with that, the price wasn’t an easy pill to swallow. And while it was possible to buy it outright, we decided that financing a chunk of the cost was the prudent move. My savings inched down further and the reality of owning a car (gas, loan payments, maintenance) reared their head.

The final slap was more like a kick to the balls. Someone in the family formed a gambling addiction and took loans to cover the losses. Without a steady source of income, they would’ve drowned under the interest rates. And with that, my savings account inched down to the lowest it’s been since I started my current job.

After all of this, all I can do is be thankful that I had this money to spend and give. That’s the whole point of an emergency fund, right? Makes perfect sense but doesn’t hurt any less. Now it’s time to build that fund up again. Maybe eventually I won’t feel like Sisyphus with his boulder.

I like macro, not micro

At the beginning of this year, I was a few months into seriously learning web development. As I do, I ended up wondering if embedded engineering might be a better fit for me. Or maybe just anything with C – it seemed like a great language.

Now, at the end of the year, I find myself drawn more to the world at large rather than lower-level knowledge about specific things. And this is said with no disrespect towards people that dedicate their lives to microcosms. These people are invaluable and we wouldn’t have the world we do today if not for them. But I don’t believe I can operate this way… at least not at this point in my life.

In review

2021 was a year to remember and I’m happy to say I spent it with people that I love and appreciate. A lot of fun was had and a lot of tears were shed. With all that in mind, I’m hoping 2022 treats us all just a little bit better.