Decade in Review: 2010 – 2019

by | Jan 6, 2020 | Essays

I’m really intrigued by the idea of writing down my decade in review (2010 – 2019) post for couple of reason:

  1. It gives bigger picture of what i managed to do. Some things took more time than a year to be achieved after all.
  2. 2010 – 2019 is practically my young adult to adult phase. It’s basically my entire 20s. I hope this writing survives and my kids later can learn what their old man do in his 20s and somehow this becomes useful in someway for them.

Hence, this post.

Key milestones

In general, these are what i managed to do on this decade. Honestly, it is really hard to remember what i actually did so I opened up my photo archive, scanned the entire photo stream, picks up images that represents what happened during that phase, and made this list. Hence, these are what I think is significant that happened in this decade:

  • More frequent frontend and WordPress theme development freelance work while finishing bachelor degree.
  • Finally able to drive a car and getting my driver license.
  • Met my future wife during KKN / University’s student study service.
  • Graduated from university.
  • Moved to Jakarta for a full-time on-site web development job offered by long-term freelance client.
  • Getting engaged.
  • Need money for wedding and marriage so worked on freelance projects after day job.
  • Resigned from full-time on-site job; did full-time freelance job.
  • Getting married.
  • Rented and lived in apartment.
  • Moving out from the apartment.
  • Lived next to my parents on my parents’ property .
  • Being a father. Wife gave birth to our son.
  • Work full-time and remote at Elegant Themes.
  • Wife finished her master degree.
  • Bought a car.
  • Travelled overseas.
  • Move out from parents’ property.
  • Rented house.
  • Grew a very long hair.
  • Cut my very long hair.
  • Tried to do content creator path by growing a lifestyle YouTube channel; intentionally stopped after a year.
  • Bought properties.
  • Got into photography.
  • Tried to get fit. Went to gym.
  • Stopped going to the gym.
  • Work for Elegant Themes for more than 4 years
  • Being a father of two. Wife gave birth to our daughter.

Obviously, more thing happened outside this list. Nevertheless these are the general outline of what happened and there are lessons I learned from these which i’d like to document. Again, I’m not in a position of lecturing anyone; I just want to document what I think i learned from these chain of events and I hope these reflections are useful for anyone who reads it in some ways.

Lessons Learned

On finishing off university

These are strategies that I used to finish my bachelor degree:

  1. Picked major that aligned with my natural talent.
  2. Show up on classes (don’t skip classes for dumb reason)
  3. Just finish the assignment given; no need to be perfect, just finish them to the best of my ability
  4. Show up on exam, and finish it
  5. Write thesis in intense pace. I immediately arrange the next schedule everytime I met my lecturer for thesis consultation.

I managed to finish bachelor degree in 4.5 years with a pretty decent GPA.

On work

First, I didn’t wait until graduated to start working. I have this unproven theory (that i gained later) that one needs one – two years of work-hard-but-poor-result so I decided to do freelance web development in my spare time during my university years. The pros: i gained financial independency relatively faster than my peers. The cons, which i rarely talked but i think i need to mention right now: I have a very minimalistic social life.

I’m sick of being dependent and limited due to financial reason so I made my sacrifice.

As in why I picked frontend & WordPress theme development area to work with:

  1. It fascinates me.
  2. I enjoyed working on it. In general i enjoy the kind of work which its result can be shown off (product-based work instead of administrative task).
  3. I did some research and found out that: a) it paid relatively well, b) programming is not a highly regulated area (which means I don’t need a degree, unlike let’s say a doctor or lawyer, to work on this area), c) the progress is really fast it is almost impossible for formal education to pick up with its; pace. In programming, self learner thrives. It means I assume that supply of high quality worker is relatively low while the demand is high, and anyone (me included) can be really good on this area if I spent my time and resource correctly.

Hence, i’ve been working on this area from the beginning up until the end of the decade.

On employer

Kind and appreciative employers exist. The thing that need to be noted is these kind of employer look for the reliable employee. I try to strive to be that reliable employee. Communicate clearly. Help to make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Explain reasons and rationale of your decision. Have a good writing and communication skill.

On skill

There are two important things that i learned:

  1. Show what I can do so I can sell my service to prospective employer / client. One strategy that I found paid off is make a very good project, then share it for free. On top of that, tell the story of how I made it.
  2. In team settings, I can be not the best skilled team member but I can always participate and fill in other shoes. I found being helpful and well documented person in the team helps the team as well.

On relationship & marriage

First, one thing that becomes clear after I’m being a husband. Getting married is NOT the finished line. It is actually the starting point. I’m practically in a boat of life with my wife now. Marriage is basically amplifier: the high is higher than being single, but the low is also lower.

Getting myself synced with my wife is quite a challenge on itself. Nevertheless, another challenge is actually awaits: marriage is not a story of you two only. It is also a story of how two families merged. Sometime it is the main family that makes thing relatively harder; Sometime it is the extended family. Marriage helps reveal the nature of my own family in different perspective because now I finally realize there are other ways of living life that differs from how me and my family live it.

On materialistic posession

Setting clear and tangible goal helps. It helps me to calculate how much I need and what I need to do to achieve it. Sometimes it is hard to set a goal because it feels out of my reach. What i ended up doing: throw myself into random opportunities that give myself unknown information which leads to another information which offers numerous unthinkable way to reach the seemingly unreachable, finally reachable.

In simple plain english: what can happen > what I know.

For example: for quite sometime i always think that the only legit way to have a car is by buying it on showroom. To do it, I need to either have sufficient cash, or get a lease which require me to have a decent paycheck.

Turns out there are other other option: relatives who has multiple cars (and maintain them well), in need of quick cash, and willing to negotiate term on how it should be paid. That’s how literally i get my first vehicle.

On kids

Having and nurturing kid is no easy task. However I found that being parents offer myself experience that i couldn’t experience unless i’m being father. It makes the high even higher and the low requires me to be wiser. It literally shifts my life.

I honestly couldn’t take much credit in this front because my wife do a very great effort on being a mother. What i do is support her as much as I can, do my part well, then coordinate with her on what and how i can help.

On travelling overseas

I managed to visit several countries on this decade. One thing that fascinates me on travelling overseas is the realization that people live a very different life than me in my place. That’s crazy. The way they travel is different, the food they eat is different, the language they use is different, people live different life and they live on.

On different note, visiting these places make me wonder: visiting these beautiful places are super fun. But when I try to remember them, what i can recall is not the beautiful scenery and perfectly detailed architecture that i saw. Not all those glam pics I shot and posted on instagram. What i ended up remember more is the stories that happened on those trips. What happened to whom, how we dealt with what, etc.

I can keep writing more stuff regarding things that happened during past decade but then it’ll be endless task. For the past decade i’m fascinated with the idea of honing things until it is perfect, nay perfectionism. However, what ended up happening: it makes me suffer due to unrealistic expectation i set upon myself. I ended up do less things because i self-criticise myself more than i need. I wish to do less of that. I wish to get more things out of the door. It might not be perfect but i wish ending up do something, release something, and publish something.

To the next decade, and beyond.