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What a year! What next?

I've never written a review of my previous years, but then I've never had a blog to post them to. Since this is my first year of writing (and many other firsts), I feel compelled to write something about last year. 2015 has been a big year: lots of changes, challenges, scary moments and exciting moments, but most importantly it's been fun and I've learnt loads.

One of the biggest things to happen to me this year was joining Clearleft. It was also the start of a new chapter for me—in more ways than the obvious leaving University and getting a real job kind of thing. It marked reaching a goal.

Exactly ten years ago, after difficult times at home, I dropped out of college with no qualifications, I took the first job that was offered to me and I rented a room in a shabby flat. I didn't find the job fulfilling and it certainly wasn't what I dreamt of as a child. I quit that job after three years to start over and become a student. That choice was partly about starting a new career, but mostly about finding myself, discovering new things and meeting new people. I worked in the evenings to fund it and I spent my spare time learning to code in the classroom and on work placements.

So joining Clearleft was reaching that goal of turning my life and career around. It was the close of one door and the opening of a new one. It was also the catalyst for many of my achievements this year, and for that I am incredibly grateful.

I enjoy going to work; I am passionate about learning and I'm inspired by the people I work with. This was my first year working with my mentor, Jeremy and the experience has been invaluable. We had a couple of minor hiccups early on, but it takes time to get to know someone and get used to working closely together. It has been incredibly successful and I've learnt so much more than I imagined possible in a year. I've never been offered the amount of teaching, support, encouragement and patience that Jeremy has given to me and I will always thank him for that. With this encouragement and support, I achieved some new things in 2015:

Public speaking

In May I spoke at Talk Web Design, a conference for students and in October I spoke at Bytes conf, a mini conference in Brighton. I genuinely didn't believe I'd ever get the courage to speak to an audience, so I avoided it until this year. I found the first talk pretty scary and I don't think I enjoyed it as much as I should have, but the second talk was much better. I handled the nerves and I spent a lot less time rehearsing lines (sounds weird, but it helps) and I actually really enjoyed it. I wrote about dealing with the fear of public speaking a couple of months ago.

Blogging

This is the first year I've written a blog. When I joined Clearleft Jeremy told me that I should be writing down what I learn. I thought this was a silly idea because everything I learn has already been shared, so there's no point. I was wrong. I haven't shared anything that hasn't been discovered already, but it has helped me a lot. Writing down what I'm learning helps me understand it better and gives me something to revisit when I need it.

Codebar

I started attending codebar this year, which has been very rewarding. Not only do I get to help others learn web development, I have met some great people who I enjoy hanging out with. I love seeing people learn to code from scratch and then get jobs in the industry—all down to their time at codebar. Dot, Rosa and Ryan are pretty amazing for dedicating so much time and effort to organising the event.

What I didn't do

I wanted to improve my JavaScript skills this year. This happened, but not as much as I would have liked. This is partly down to my lack of discipline because I was supposed to spend every Friday afternoon at work blogging and I didn't. It's easy for time to run away and it's always the things you want to do that get overtaken by the things you need to do. And it's very easy to find excuses. One of my goals for this year is to find a way to turn around my JavaScript knowledge and skills using Friday afternoons.

And finally...

I can't let this post go by without mentioning two other huge events this year.

I got engaged! After 5 amazing years together, Tom proposed on a mountain in Wales. It was a surprise, but exactly where I imagined it would be. I'm very excited (and a little scared!) to be getting married next year.

Finally, my niece was born in March, joining our much loved nephew into my sister's family unit. She was a long awaited addition and we couldn't be happier to have her in our lives.

I'm lucky to have so many great moments to celebrate in 2015—I haven't even mentioned the fun times with my friends, witnessing two of my cousins get married (one of which I was a bridesmaid!), spending three weeks living in a camper van in New Zealand. All are equally as memorable and awesome. 2016 has a lot to live up to! Getting married will make it particularly special and I have a few other hopes for it too:

I am running the Brighton Half Marathon in February. I've been training for 9 weeks and I've grown to love it. So, one of my goals is to stick with it and do at least one more half marathon this year. Maybe even a marathon—or is that a bit ambitious?

Document my JavaScript learning journey. Recently I have been writing a post about every JavaScript pattern I write and anything I learn about JavaScript. It really helped me understand it, but I didn't do it enough. So, I want to get into the habit of writing one JavaScript post every week (I might allow the odd emittance), to make sure I keep up with learning it. Even if it's just a few words about some relevant terminology; it can be as long or short as desired or time allows, as long as it happens.

I want to speak at a few more events and write a few more articles to improve these skills.

Organise a workshop for codebar students. I'd like to run a workshop to add to the responsive web development tutorials that codebar offers. People have been kind to me and helped me learn everything I know so far, so I want to do the same for others.

Work on my confidence. I've always struggled with self belief. Sometimes I think I'm not intelligent enough or good enough at various things. I think I know why I feel like this, but I know I shouldn't. I'll work on this.

What a year. I've learnt loads and importantly, I know I have so much more to learn. I appreciate everything and everyone around me. I hope 2016 is a patch on 2015.

Speaking at Bytes.
Climbing with Monika and Tom.
The lovely Clearleft gang.
Jeremy and Poppy.
Codebar's first birthday
Cycling with Tom.
Gorgeous cousins.
My bridesmaids!
Wedding dress shopping.
My niece.
Tom in Brighton.
Queenstown.
Our campervan in NZ.
The Secret Garden Party gang.
The Wildlife festival gang.
Tom on our welsh mountain.
When we got engaged.