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My 1-year anniversary

A selfie of me and a kangaroo taken at a sanctuary in Currumbin, Australia.

Anniversaries typically celebrate the starting point of a relationship: Couples, jobs and marriages are the most common. Nobody really needs that explained.

Jan. 5 marks my 1-year anniversary of leaving my full-time job. For a variety of reasons (pending litigation), I won’t describe in detail the how and why I left my last role. Maybe someday (pending litigation)!

But rather than Jan. 5, 2023 representing an endpoint, it denotes a starting point for a new chapter in my life. To invoke an overused (and perhaps misattributed) quote: “Every man has two lives, and the second starts when he realizes he has just one.”

Over the last year, I’ve done a bunch of things I’d been wanting to do, but hadn’t for one reason or another. Being glued to a desk or present in an office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tends to supersede whatever desires you have during the day. Add in a commute on either end and having to compete with crowds to run errands in those spare hours, and you get a pre-programmed life that can turn into drudgery quick.

Rather than writing off reams about all I did last year, I’ll put some of it in numbers to make for easier reading.

My 2023 in numbers

  • 1 full month traveling: Life seems to be about this balance between having time and money. I was lucky enough to have both for a while.
  • 2 classes taken: I wouldn’t recommend taking a liberal arts class at a design school (FIT), but the photography class I took in the fall to better understand the manual settings on my DSLR was well worth it.
  • 4 new countries visited: Australia, China, Thailand and Singapore. Those were all part of that month I spent traveling and places I’d been thinking about visiting for a while. Plus, I topped it off by visiting a friend in Portland, Ore., for a week.
  • 5 new regular clients: Sometimes I work as a copywriter. Sometimes I work as an editor. Sometimes I work as an SEO/marketing strategist. The variety keeps things interesting, and I’m quite happy to do all of it.
  • 11 books finished: Not quite to the standard of those folks who set out to read 52 books in a year, but comparison is the thief of joy. I read a lot of enlightening material this year, and this represents only the books I started and finished. I’d say my favorites were Cosmos by Carl Sagan and Empire by Niall Ferguson. The latter I picked up in the Melbourne airport and read while I was visiting former British colonies and touring their museums. That combination made the history feel alive.
  • 127 workouts: According to the Boostcamp app, I went to the gym 127 times in 2023. Aside from when I was a high school athlete, that’s definitely the most I’ve done in a year. That’s even after I spent a month traveling, and doesn’t count the numerous days I biked, went for a run or walked several miles. I’ve consistently weighed about 5 pounds less than I had in previous years, hovering between 176 pounds and 179 pounds.
  • 29049203409 emails and applications sent: At some point, it feels freeing to not care whether someone responds to your job application or cold call email regarding work. I used to take these things personally, but it’s rarely an indictment on your skill or qualifications.

The funny thing in thinking up a list of numbers is that it’s hard to quantify so many parts of my life. It’d be hyperbole to say the last year was all sunshine and rainbows; it wasn’t. There were tough weeks and months sandwiched in here.

At some point, I realized that I control my narrative. I wasn’t a guy without a job. I’m self-employed. That continues to be true, and it’s not a lie. I’m making a living and slowly building up my client base. The jump was scary, but the result has been exciting.

I’ve also been far more present for the people I care about, and that’s not something anyone can put a number on. I’ve learned a ton about myself and my professional deficiencies in this time—like needed to further develop business development skills—but those feel like positive challenges.

All in all, it was a very good year.

A photo of me cooking the contents of spring rolls during a cooking class I attended in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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