Yes, it's a year recap two months after the year ended. You can probably guess a two month delay means a lot of things happened.

The TL;DR is that I finished the year on sick leave due to burnout. At the moment of writing I am unemployed and recovering. I also decided to become a freelancer (check my portfolio and hire me!). On the personal side, I broke many barriers that were dragging me down, evolved immensely on the emotional side, which led to new encounters, new experiences. I came to peace with leaving behind old hobbies, and created a space around drawing that bring me immense joy.

Bien cordialement

So, about work. My realization this year, after burning out for the third time in 8 years, was how alone employment in tech is. In a year that saw the biggest strikes in France since World War 2 and incredible inflation, I was alone going on strike and publicly challenging management about raises. Tech workers don't have any class consciousness, don't fight for their rights, and don't get involved in companies, preferring to job hop. In these circumstances, social progress at work is near impossible.

I doubt it will be different in any other company I could join, so I decided to stop looking for one and become a freelancer. Workers rights are getting destroyed in France, and it's probably the last period where I can benefit from unemployment benefits to start my own thing.

I'm both happy and deeply annoyed by this decision. Happy because I can finally end this infantilizing relationship employment creates. I may have more varied and interesting work coming, and I can have some leverage about who I work for, and how.

But I am not blind. I know that, while trying to better my situation, I am doing exactly what the shitheads that govern us want: increase workers atomization and de-socialization, make them give up on class warfare, enslave them in closed platforms and algorithms, and make them carry all the risks and costs.

Remembering this, and being lucky to be safe on the financial side for a while, I'll try to build an organic and direct customer base without relying on platforms. Get in touch if you like my work and think I could fit in your projects!

Such small hands

On the personal side the year started pretty badly. I turned 37 and I did not like it. My beard and hair had started to turn white. I felt that my self-discovery years were behind me. I felt disconnected from people my age and their lives, and outside of the internet, I had not found peers I could freely speak with. I lacked a connection with folks in real life who could help me grow as a person.

If I'm not 100% satisfied as I haven't found an IRL community I can 100% thrive in, my efforts to socialize, meet new people, experience new things, are slowly but surely bearing fruits. This year felt like awakening to new sensations, mental and physical states, after being numb for years. I feel alive and in the moment, but also relieved and detached. It’s great. I feel like I am breaking out of my shell, slowly revealing my true self, one I had never allowed myself to show to anyone.

Yet, I still have work to do on myself. Most notably, opening myself up to feel also means experiencing the world in a more direct, violent way, which is very anxiety inducing. It requires being more strict with things like sleep, diet and exercise. It's hard but I don't regret it. I'd rather feel alive even in the bad moments than numb like before.

The moth and the flame

On hobby side, things are moving in the right direction. I consciously decided to stop anything that felt too close to hustle culture. It was a sad realization, but fighting games and programming, two of my favourite activities in the past years, started to feel like job related hobbies. They felt like a productive way of spending my free time, because they benefited my professional carrier.

But it was so exhausting and pervasive it drained me. Don't play this game when you haven't tried the last entry of TEKKEN! Don't read this comic when you could read a programming book instead! Why learn about this topic when you could learn about computer science?! Be productive on your free time! BETTER YOURSELF!!

The discourse and changes emanating from the professionalization of the fighting games scene (I briefly talked about it here), as well as the debilitating productization (is that a word?) of the web development scene drained the fun out of them for me. I felt I had to move away from them before I started hating them.

And so I did, and it felt great. I spent hours on my sofa, dozing off, reading comics and books, watching anime, playing video games, drawing. I'm not entirely free of this productivity mindset, but I'm getting there.

Down by the river

A thing I totally nailed this year is drawing.

I drew erotica for this first time, deep dived into surrealist pieces, experimented with my tools, re-connected with my inspirations, salvaged and triaged all my previous works, and even started writing about my art journey. Writing this has been among the most interesting and positive things I did this year, and I can't wait to continue exploring my past self and reflect on who I am and why I do the things I do.

Among the other things I nailed is the decision to never force myself to draw, and especially to absolutely never think about, or act, as if my art was content that should be monetized. I created an instagram account to share my art with family and friends, but that's it, there won't be any hustle. No obligatory daily story. No urgent weekly post. No considerations for my "audience". No twisting of an idea to make it work better on social media. No prints until I want to to do it for myself. No big plans or overthought subjects.

Drawing is now the ultimate hustle-free corner of my life, and I enjoy it immensely. And it's not just the act of drawing. I started to experience comforting feelings from my tools. I like manipulating them. The weight of my mechanical pens in my hand ; the grain of paper under the pulp of my finger ; the sound they make when tracing ; the smell. I now keep my favorite mechanical pencil and notebook with me, even when going outside, and I don't even draw outside of my house! I just like having them around me.

All those aspects of drawing bring me so much joy now. I don't even draw very often or for very long. Some pieces stay on the table for weeks. But every time I see them I feel joy, not pressure, failure or urgency. I know I will go back to them eventually. This feeling is the best.

Did I achieved my 2023 goals?

Draw better
Engage in more unproductive activities
Code for fun
Self exploration

2024 goals

See you next year!

Initially published: March 9th, 2024
Generated: March 9th, 2024