Yearnote: 2022

I recently completed the Year Compass for the first time, which I loved doing and would recommend to everyone — it was such a useful…

Yearnote: 2022
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

I recently completed the Year Compass for the first time, which I loved doing and would recommend to everyone — it was such a useful exercise in working through how I felt about the past year.

In keeping with my new habit of writing and working in the open, I decided to share some of what I reflected on.

My 2022 Highlights:

  • Giving a talk at and attending SD in Gov was definitely the highlight of my year and maybe my decade. I loved both the talk I gave and the experience of being at the conference — I usually feel horribly out of place at conferences, but there were many warm, lovely people. I felt very seen and accepted.
  • And, as part of this, being back in London and the UK again. I loved living there so it felt bittersweet to leave again. But I’m glad I had to chance to visit my old love, and see the people who make it such a special place to me.
  • Truly feeling, for the first time in a while, both valued by others (colleagues and others) and within myself that I am valuable. It sounds really depressing to say out loud that I didn’t feel that way before, but a combination of one toxic manager and my own self-doubt had a long-lasting effect on my confidence in myself. This year I felt like Bridget Jones, being told that the world I’m in right now likes me just the way I am, even the things I think are unlikeable about myself: my introversion, my awkwardness, my tendency to always be the squeaky wheel. So this is a genuine thank you to the people who have gone out of the their way to make sure I know I am valued.
  • Part of the above, I think, has been exploring and accepting that I am neurodivergent. I haven’t been able to get a proper diagnosis (we’re in a doctor shortage crisis where I live), but I am exploring the different spectrums and understanding where I fit in and where I don’t. I might write more about this later as it seems to be coming up a lot with the people I talk to.
  • Doing NaBloPoMo, and also just generally writing again. It’s been so good to finally get the thoughts from my head into the world.
  • Keeping my little big design community going and meeting regularly for 12 straight months, even though it’s not my job to do so and I don’t have much in the way of extra time or energy.
  • Doing all of the above without working any unpaid overtime, and always signing off at the end of the workday with no guilt.
  • Finally having some relief from the staggering childcare payments that have dominated my family’s finances for seven years. I could honestly weep with gratitude.

My 2022 challenges:

  • Well, we started the year by getting covid, so that wasn’t great. But we mostly stayed healthy for the rest of the year, yay!
  • This year, more than most years, I’ve struggled with the feeling that the world is falling apart at the hands of capitalism. Part of this has been dealing with the anxiety and uncertainty of both inflation and seeing my mortgage payments go up $1,600 a month due to rising interest rates, and fearing that my family is one bad moment away from losing everything and feeling frustrated that my government doesn’t really care about people like me, and also anger that my decent job in the public service should feel like enough thrive on, but it doesn’t.
  • Similarly, at work, I’ve been feeling more pessimistic than usual about government’s ability to change how it does things in a meaningful way. I mentioned in my SD in Gov talk that I am a balance of both realism and optimism but lately it’s felt more towards the half-empty side. My fear is mainly that we need bigger organizational change than I think anyone is willing to admit to or commit to.
  • I lost two aunts, both really vibrant and complex and inspiring people who will be deeply missed. One was an MLA for the government I currently work for and I think about her often when I’m doing this work.
  • This is minor but …. The downside of giving the conference talk you’ve always wanted to give, a talk about your life’s work and your heart, is the question of, what now? How will I top that?

Best discoveries:

What I’m looking forward to:

  • I’m going to be crossing all fingers and toes that I will be able to attend SD in Gov again — I will definitely be submitting another talk. I also want to submit to other conferences as well. More than ever, I’m convinced conferences need more people like me.
  • This year I want to do more to grow design and designers, and I think a lot of my colleagues want this as well. I don’t know what this looks like yet but I’m excited for something to take shape.
  • I’ll be flushing out my recent promotion and having some conversations about what design leadership looks like in my org.
  • And lots of other things that mostly have to do with enjoying my sweet little family, and taking some time for myself.
  • Oh, and a trip to Aotearoa/New Zealand in February!

Happy 2023!