2018: Year of Gratitude

Looking over the calendar for 2018, it feels like the year went by so quickly. I’ve been married for over a year; I didn’t drive for 14 months because we only had Nick’s car and only recently sold it and my parents drove my car to our new place; I travelled a lot during the year; Lilian and I caught up so many times, but didn’t quite make our goal of 20 catchups and it still felt like we were seeing each other every week – and in the middle of all of this, there was the routine of going to the gym, going rock climbing occasionally, running the codebar events every month, and a bunch of other things I don’t really need to list.

Some of the major events that happened this year really defined my year, if I’m honest. And a lot of these events involved people. I don’t practice gratitude on the daily, but I realise that I am indebted to some individuals who have made 2018 more than just a year.

This post is for them.

A group of three men and three women, all holding signs reading “we escaped” amongst other humorous jokes
We did an escape room on my birthday this year. (L–R: Nick, me, Geoff, Monica, Ivy, Phuong)

Thank you to Chris for always believing in me. For bringing me up in my professional career, being an incredible inspiration, unafraid of the mistakes that can befall a team trying new things, and being open to change. Without me ever having to explain, you understand the prejudice and treatment I go through as a woman of colour, and the feelings I’m likely to feel by way of being biologically female, and you recognise my efforts and achievements and help me believe in myself.

A set of four photos of a few men and a woman. They are smiling and posing.
Photobooth photos 🙌✌️💪

Dominic, thank you for urging me to join MentorCruise. I didn’t know what to expect at first, but I really admire your dedication to the initiative. Thank you for inviting me to be a part of it. As someone who struggled to find a mentor figure for some of my professional career, I decided that I wanted to be that figure for someone else. Wesley, thank you for being a brave mentee and choosing me as your mentor even though I’m on the other side of the earth. Thank you for being patient with me and letting us learn about mentorship together.

Samme and Michelle, your work for the DDD Sydney conference amazed me. For some time, community work and soft skills have been seen as less important, or unimportant, compared to technical expertise and technical performance on the job. You are the developers of the future and don’t let anyone tell you that community is not important. Samme, thank you for egging me on, to submit a talk for DDD. I’m sure you contacted so many other people and I know how confronting it can be – but I also know that it makes a huge difference, and without that kind of cold contacting, it’s almost impossible to get reach for a conference. I’m so glad I could share my talk with you and the attendees of DDD.

A woman in a red sweater in front of a screen reading “Find your groove”. The thumb and fingers of one of her hands is closed together in an o shape
Speaking gestures 👀 Me speaking at DDD Sydney. (📸: Geoffrey Chong)

Thank you to Phill and Kyle, literally the two best new people I met this year (technically I met Phill at the end of last year, but circumstances meant that we didn’t really hang out and stick to each other like glue until September 2018). My heart breaks that I can’t walk across the road to get a coffee with both of you and laugh about what we think we know about each other, because said road happens to extend beyond the breadth of the Pacific Ocean. I’ll literally never forget my decision to stay awake beyond the sleepy jet-lagged eyestrain I was feeling that Saturday night. I will not forget that I – anti-social, heavily introverted, drained-by-people, homebody Georgie – said yes to drinks, because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have known the endless/to-1am D&M we had that night. Thank you for being anxious, heartfelt, open, and beautiful human beings in my presence during XOXO, and thank you for letting me into a little bit more than the coloured square photos of your life. I know the next time the three of us hang out again is just around the corner.

Three people smiling and holding doughnuts
Kyle, myself and Phill in Portland eating doughnuts after a hike 🍩

Thank you to Andy and Andy, who organised XOXO and made it what it was. For letting me be a part of it. I can’t thank you enough for the experience I had in Portland because of XOXO, and this paragraph is comparatively short compared to all the others in this blog post, but fuck it.

Matthew, and Jack, thank you for keeping in touch with me and inviting me to speak at Hong Kong Code Conf. I know how much hard work goes into organising conferences and I know that 2018’s event almost didn’t happen. I can’t thank you enough for being lax on my late submissions, and for actually selecting my submission for a talk I hadn’t even written yet. I had a great time in Hong Kong, really loved sharing my talk with the community there, and I really appreciate your hospitality.

A group of people around a round table, smiling. The table has food on it and the setting is inside a food court.
At the speaker dinner prior to Hong Kong Code Conf (📸: Matthew Rudy Jacobs, who is standing in the photograph)
A conference room with white chairs with people seated in them. At the front of the room on a stage is a woman standing at a podium. The screen backdrop on the stage reads “Web Performance”
Me speaking at Hong Kong Code Conf in November (📸: Nicholas Cooke)

Zarah, thank you so much for inviting me to speak at DevFest a second time. I’m glad we could work something out even with such short notice. I know that I didn’t feel like my first DevFest talk was that great, and I felt a lot more confident this time around, but I am truly so humbled that you enjoy listening to me as a speaker.

A woman in a grey t-shirt and orange skirt, speaking on stage. Behind her is a screen with a screenshot of a blog post on it
Me speaking at DevFest last week. (📸: Zarah Dominguez)

Mike, Geoff, and Phuong, thank you for being helping hands with codebar. Mike, you have been wonderful with communication and organisation, and I feel grateful to be running an event like this with someone who is respected and looked up to in the tech community. Geoff and Phuong, thank you for helping out at codebar as mentors from the early days before you came on as organisers. It is so valuable having likeminded people care about helping others learn how to code and giving minority groups opportunities.

Again, Geoff, Phuong, and Monica, thank you for listening to my endless ramblings about spending money, decluttering my wardrobe, and why jeans don’t fit my backside. I’ve learned a lot about fashion and the psychology of clothing this year and I think I might have gone mad if I didn’t have anyone to share it with. Thank you for being my group of “yuppies” and being helpful and open about career concerns, finances, and general adulting, at the same time being able to make a joke, take a joke, toast and roast, and let me be my own person without shame. Thank you all for the rock climbing hangs, and we should go get burgers again some time.

Thank you Nick for living with me, spending time with me, being patient with me, loving me, and putting up with me. I know I’m often a pain in the backside with my endless complaining, vanity, and delegation or deferral of various tasks. And I’m certainly not the definition of a housewife – probably because I spend too much of my time talking to you about the nuances of my feminist life, how I get treated as a woman of colour, and claiming that I’ll break catcalling men’s necks with my quadriceps. Thank you for listening to me and taking the time to understand complex and convoluted topics like mental health, internal racism, and subtle Asian traits – all topics that people often avoid, but that are important to me. I probably sound like a broken record, but every day I’m happily reminded of why I chose to spend my life with you. 😊

A set of four photos of a male-female couple. The woman is wearing an orange top and the man is in a blue shirt. They are smiling and posing.
Nick and I at the CM Christmas party this year

I’d be lying if I said that writing this didn’t make me cry a little. Growing up, I wasn’t the most grateful kid. Being appreciative of people’s time and help is something I’ve struggled with in the past. I was stubborn, thought that I was superhuman and could do everything, and cared little for others. I found it difficult to express my feelings, especially positive feelings. But in thinking about the events of 2018, I wanted to write this, because I realise I’ve never felt this grateful in my life.

There are many things I’ve been grateful for in the past, the smallest of gestures from strangers, material items I’ve bought or received, consumables that I ate in one sitting and only exist as a photographic image, trinkets that sit somewhere now collecting dust, items of clothing I’ve long since gotten over and donated to someone more in need. Yet nothing is the same, or feels the same, as gratitude for people’s actions. 💙

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This post is so touching, and I’m so every person mentioned is feeling just as thankful for you being in their lives for 2018! It’s always humbling to remember that YOU did all this and all that but at the same time, a lot of it wouldn’t be possible without being blessed with meeting the right person at the right time. That’s one of my serious “wows” of 2018. So many meetings seemed so random, and yet without them, I wouldn’t have had half the opportunities I had.
So glad to have “met” you better this past year, and can’t wait to see what you have in store for 2019!! ^^ And hope to meet you in PERSON soon!!!

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