Mario By Night
Ball Drop Edition
I tried really hard to get a 2023 retrospective done before... you know... the end of 2023.
But alas, here I am, like the night before a big paper was due way back during my college days.
Has it really been that kind of year?
I'll separate this out into three sections.
For this first one, I'd like to focus on my instinctual self, which is generally not my strong suit. Let me explain.
I tend to overthink things. Quite a lot. Like, for example, when I was trying to decide whether I should write this post or not. I probably could have written three within the span of time it took me to decide whether I should do it or not.
Needless to say, I don't generally follow my gut instinct to do a thing.
However, there were some bright spots over the past year that could serve as templates for future me.
As some of you may know, I have been making the rounds at several speaking engagements over the past couple of years, and I have to tell you, it is decidedly not because it comes easy to me. I have made a conscious effort to do something that is unnatural for me.
However, there are two examples from my speaking engagements this year that really jump out in this section.
First one: I was initially not selected to be a tutorial presenter at PyCon US 2023. I was both bummed and relieved—particularly because I didn't have my topic prepared. However, after one of the tutorial presenters had to drop out, I was asked if I would be willing and able to take their spot.
This led my brain into overdrive, but I knew I couldn't do too much thinking, or the opportunity might pass me up. The problem is that I only had around 2 months to prepare, which seems like a lot of time... but not quite for a 3.5 hour tutorial.
I decided to rely on my confidence and take decisive action, not really knowing exactly how I would go about getting ready. Without going into too much detail, it ended up turning out alright. (More on this later.)
Secondly: Another weird thing I did this year was respond to the PyGotham CFP. That alone isn't the surprising part. The weird thing is, I decided to submit a proposal that would have me creating a "talk show" style video.
Mind you, I've never really done anything like that before. Up to that point, I had never even really edited a video before, either. I would need to write a script, make it relevant and entertaining, and perform it as if it comes naturally? I didn't even have video editing software on my computer.
I wrote up the proposal relatively quickly without my usual overthinking, and in the end, I'd say it also turned out alright.
These happen to be exceptions, rather than the rule. But at least by writing these things down, I can revisit when I am filled with the anxious self-doubt that usually pervades my decision-making.
If I tend to de-emphasize my instincts, I more or less tend to fully ignore my feelings. They're so icky, you know.
Even as I write this, I have this instinct to just skip this section.
But who am I kidding. I'm not a robot.
A lot of my gains in this department come from relying on friends and family.
It helps having a partner who wears her heart on her sleeve and becomes the perfect counterbalance to my abstract thinking. It also helps to have a 5-year-old who is constantly asking me to play with her "mom and kid" or some other game of the imagination.
My heart melts just thinking about it.
On the Python front, it goes without saying that even if I have a tendency to focus on the language and the syntax as a way to escape the tangible world around me, it is particularly the community that keeps me grounded and feeling valued/valuable.
I may be too "tin man" to say it out loud that often, but thank you both for being kind, awesome, genuine.
And this is my bread and butter.
It's always been this way.
I remember sleepovers when I was a kid when someone would say... let's stay up ALL NIGHT! Someone would surely be asleep a few minutes after 11 pm, and by 1:00 am, I was the only sucker still awake, probably wondering if I had gotten the rules of this game right.
It takes me an inordinate amount of time to fall asleep if I have something pressing on my mind, and I've gotten used to laying in bed in the mornings over-tired, yet ruminating on whatever happens to be part of my waking dream.
It is both a blessing and a curse.
So how did this work in my favor in 2023?
Remember the aforementioned tutorial for PyCon US? Well, when I decided to go for it, I had very little time to prepare. If you're here, you already know that doing Python is not something I do for my day job (I mean, it's in the blog title). When I wrote the proposal, I had a general idea of what I wanted to talk about.
But taking a general concept and translating that into something of value for individuals that will be paying for 3+ hours of content—well that's another thing.
That's when I have to lean in hard to my primary faculty, and I like to think that it paid off. Not because it was perfect. Not because I couldn't have made it better. Not because I have some immense talent for pulling it off to begin with.
But as the tutorial ended, I felt proud of what I accomplished. I received good feedback from attendees. And as of today, it's the most watched talk/tutorial from PyCon US 2023. That has to count for something...
I get that it may not have to do exactly with my delivery. I think building a Python-backed web app (using the PyHAT stack) is a timely (maybe timeless?) topic. But it also means that I was able to anticipate the interest when I submitted my proposal.
There are other ways that my brain really helped me out this year.
I experienced a somewhat disappointing end result when I learned that I was passed up on a job application that would have brought me into the world of Python development. Yes, I know, it would make the title of this blog a little misleading (Python By Night... and Day?). But on the other hand, I did learn that I narrowly missed being selected from a large pool of applicants.
Luckily, I'm currently fortunate enough to have a steady job, and am therefore not frantically searching for another one. I can be discriminating about what type of role I see myself in, as well as to what kind of company I would be willing to work for.
This experience helped me gauge my value as I look toward my career ahead, and I'm looking forward to what the future holds. Overthinking might lead me to feeling paralyzed in a lot of situations, but when push comes to shove, I can give credit to my poor little brain for pushing me to learn new (cool) things.
There were a lot of awesome things this past year. I spoke at several conferences, started a well-received Awesome Python htmx repo, worked on some fun side projects, contributed a cool feature to Render Engine (static site generator), and learned a cool new web framework (Litestar)!
But perhaps my favorite Python (or Pytho-adjacent) thing over this past year has been Jeff Triplett's semi-regular Friday afternoon office hours.
I've met a few people and had the chance to chat with other's I've met at different conferences. Sometimes I'll join the call just to listen to the chatter while I work on something else. Even that can be such a balm to end an otherwise busy/stressful week.
If you wanna give it a try, follow Jeff on Mastodon and look out for his announcements.
And... looks like this blog post is due, so I better get on with it.