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2020: A Year in Review

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. - Charles Dickens

I mean, how could you expect me to start this post with anything else? 2020 was an entire lifetime, it was emotions that no one has ever felt before. It was a thing.

I didn’t have huge goals coming into 2020, but I was ready for it:

Well, you know, I thought I was ready for it. And I did make some small, but very meaningful goals:

Did I meet those goals? Actually, kind of and more. I did build a site for my memoir, and I did learn new things for my job.

But I wasn’t ready for 2020. And it took me a long time to get over that. I had this idea in my head that since I had gone through trauma, I could navigate other traumas that came my way, that I could leverage that experience.

And then I found myself crying every single night after I lost my job because of COVID, after my children’s school closed and I was supervising four kids doing at home learning while I was trying to interview for jobs. When I learned that tech interviews can be soul-crushing. And all I could think about was: why can’t I do this trauma?

This trauma, this global trauma of a pandemic wasn’t just about me. It wasn’t a hurdle that I could navigate. It was my trauma, my kids trauma, my family’s trauma, and it was the trauma of every single person affected by the pandemic. You don’t navigate the trauma of the world by yourself. And that’s very much what made this year the year I found people I call my friends, the year that I felt like I belonged, the year that Virtual Coffee became a huge part of my story.

When I lost my job, I felt alone, empty. I knew that feeling. And I knew that I had to do something before it turned into despair. And so Virtual Coffee was born. The highlight from that post is this line about what the point of Virtual Coffee is: The point is to form community. To meet new devs. To learn from each other. To offer advice. The point is to not feel alone.

And that’s what it did. I felt better about making my way through the job search because there were friends there to support me. I felt better about taking a contract using React Native for the first time, because there were people cheering me on. I felt understood when I was diagnosed with ADHD. I felt joy when my job opened back up and I had the mentorship to grow as a frontend developer, to learn new things, to have confidence in myself.

And so 2020 became the year where I had the support to do things that I didn’t dream of. 2020 became the year where I founded a community of developers, the year that I mentored when I didn’t think I knew enough to mentor, when I could finally call myself a developer.

It’s the year that I became an active open-source maintainer for my post-partum wellness app because my friends encouraged me to have faith in myself. It was the year that I (unexpectedly) organized online events for our community, that I trusted other people to help me, where I gave my first technical talk on end-to-end testing with Cypress the same week that I MCed my first lightning talk event. It’s the year I recorded my first podcasts as a co-host and not as a guest.

It’s the year where I was inspired by people around me. Where I learned that it’s ok to lean on other people when you need it. When sometimes the people I least expected to accept me–all of me–to encourage me, to push me, to support me, did.

It’s the year that I learned that sometimes progress is not what you think it looks like. That sometimes hard conversations are the ones that I need to have. That therapy is good. That sometimes all you need to do is ask for help or advice or guidance. That growth is painful.

This is the year that I cried and cried and cried. It was hard. It is hard. And complicated. And some days the anxiety keeps me up at night. And some weeks I can’t stop thinking about how awful some of the moments have been. But those beautiful moments, they’ve been so much more intensely beautiful because of the contrast.

In a lot of ways, my year of coding, my year of life, can best be described by this paragraph from my first post in my trauma blog:

And so this is my project. This is the space for vulnerability. This is the place for rawness and being allowed to be. This is the place where I show my scars. Where my body is mine. Where the scar that horrified and disgusted me has become a mark of pride. A reminder that I have survived. That I am a better person everyday for the ways I’ve changed. This is about the journey through trauma, the dirty and dark parts, the parts that I’m proud of, the parts where I say this was the worst experience of my life, but would never in a million years take it back. This is about finding beauty in the scar.

Top comments (6)

segdeha profile image
Andrew Hedges

Your accomplishments during the worst year ever are a testament both to your strength and the power of community. Congratulations, you made it! And you created something in Virtual Coffees that is helping other people at the same time. Amazing work!!!

adiatiayu profile image
Ayu Adiati

What a journey, Bekah!
And such great achievements you have there, despite all the bad times this year.

I'm very much blessed to cross path (again) with you this year 😍
Thanks for being part of my journey, even part of my life! ❤

baskarmib profile image
Baskarrao Dandlamudi

You did amazingly well this year. Keep this momentum up and wishing you great new year.

nickytonline profile image
Nick Taylor

Thanks for sharing Bekah and I'm so glad to have met you this year. Keep being awesome. ♥️

bekahhw profile image

Thanks, Nick. I am very glad to have met you this year.

kirkcodes profile image
Kirk Shillingford

It's been so great to watch your journey this year, do cool stuff together, and become your friend.