May 2020

We're almost halfway through 2020 and the world is still on fire. Safe distancing has become a thing of the past as protests erupt throughout the US and the rest of the world. Even the Japanese are protesting for God's sake! As 2020 continues to deliver crisis after crisis, I can't help but wonder when some semblance of stability and mundanity will return to the world.

As we approach the second or third month of circuit breaker measures in Singapore (I've lost track of time at this point), boredom is finally starting to set in. I've lost a lot of my motivation to work on anything, and in its place lies a feeling of emptiness with a tinge of desparation.

I'm fortunate to be in a position where I'm unaffected physically by all the happenings in the outside world, but looking through media and seeing all and experiencing all this negativity is really starting to affect my emotionally. Couple that with a seeming inability to ship anything useful this past month, and you get what I'm feeling now. I'm reminded of a concept from The War for Kindness, about how we instinctively empathise with these situations even through our phone screens, and that empathy can be emotionally exhausting.

Looking back

I didn't achieve much of what I set out to do last month. In my previous monthly update, I wrote about setting better goals and focusing my energy on achieving them.

I've decided to take my daily journals, weekly reviews and monthly updates (of which I only publish the latter) and make them more goal-oriented. This means setting monthly goals, breaking them down into weekly goals and further down into daily goals.

I lasted for about a week before I gave up on the system. It was simply too stressful realising every night that I hadn't managed to achieve my goals that day. I tried setting smaller goals the following day, or breaking down the goals further. But when I failed to achieve those too, it created a feedback loop of frustration that did way more harm than good. I ended up scrapping the goal system completely, and just wrote freely during my weekly reviews, similar to how I'm writing now.

I wouldn't say that doing so led to anything amazing. In fact, I ended up writing a little too freely, and the weekly reviews became just ramblings about whatever was on my mind at the time of writing. But I would say that writing did help me to improve my state of mind, at least for a little while after. So yeah, if you haven't guessed it already, I think I'll just write more instead of trying so hard to create systems for growth.

What I've been up to

Thankfully, some interesting things did end up occuring this month, so this section won't be completely barren.

  • I wrote an essay for the Gen Y Speaks column on the TODAY Online newspaper. It was about graduating during these times and some reflection on my journal in education. It was read by more people than expected — some of my friends reached out to me congratulating me and shared their thoughts as well, which I was really grateful for.
  • I was invited to be a panelist at a webinar session that my alma mater organised. I shared about my experiences during my time there, and how going to school there had shaped me into who I am today.
  • Built a website for my mother for Mothers' Day. Definitely not the best in terms of design, but I was really happy that my mother appreciated the effort. I also enjoyed roping my brothers in to help — they helped to label the images that I scraped from Instagram while I did all the coding work.
  • At Taskade, I've gotten the first Import to Taskade pull request approved and merged, and we'll probably ship it in the near future. I'm looking forward to hear the feedback and to see whether this feature will improve the workflow of our users.

Other than that, I watched a few shows and worked on some side projects that will likely never see the light of day. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing much reading this month. I will strive to read more next month.

Where I intend to head

I'm really not sure. I've hit a point where I'm really unsatisfied with just coding every day. It's getting really tiring dealing with the same codebase and writing the same language and paradigm every day. And yet I can't switch — JavaScript is truly the only language capable of building wide-reaching user-facing projects today.

Perhaps I'll spend this time trying something completely new. While it likely still has to be virtual, there are various avenues that I could explore online, from diving deep into research projects, learning new (spoken) languages to maybe even writing a novel. Maybe after I've discovered something that excites me, I could then introduce technology to improve my experience with it.

I will still attempt to set concrete terms for myself this month though. In June, I'll try my best to write at least two essays every week on any topic. I'll publish them in a revamped blog, which I will only allow myself two hours to build. Anything more than that will just be fiddling with the padding anyway.

I have many ideas for a better writing application more suited to my workflow. Because I know I'm at high risk of starting work on it without actually writing anything, I'll only allow myself to start on it once I've written at least twenty posts.