I’ve never had a year like this one.
This exercise feels a little narcissistic and maybe it is, but it’s nice to look back on a year before embarking on a new one. I’ve never been very good at recognizing my own strengths and accomplishments, instead focusing most of my energy on what I didn’t do or what wasn’t perfect. Pam Selle does this great thing called Bullets, where she keeps a list of her accomplishments throughout the year and looks back on them at the end; I started this late, so I’m reconstructing my list mostly from memory, but I intend to do this in 2018.
The biggest thing about my year was, of course, music. In December 2016 I was waffling about whether I’d still play music anymore, or whether that chapter of my life was over. In 2017 I played 49 shows with 8 different bands/acts - more than I’ve ever played in one year, including years where I played monthly residencies or went on tour. That’s a lot of shows, nearly one a week.
This has had a massive effect on the person I am, and I’ve only just started to notice. When you play all the time, each individual mistake feels like nothing, and each new situation just feels like a chance to dive in. In January I was timid and constantly terrified of being the worst in the room, often downplaying myself before shows to lower expectations because I was afraid I couldn’t execute. By the time December rolled around, you could see me picking up any old instrument that someone left unattended—even bass, somehow—and screaming Black Flag’s “Nervous Breakdown” while lying facedown on the floor of a nice restaurant at someone else’s corporate Christmas party. (I hope there is no video evidence of these occurrences.) (Sorry about your party, [redacted company].)
When I’m not playing music I’m crafting software, and this has been a more difficult lesson to learn there—I am still constantly fighting impostor syndrome, etc—but I’ve slowly learned that here, too, diving in is much better than waiting to figure out how to do something perfectly. Learn as you go, pivot when you need to. I’ve leveled up a lot in my development career this year.
While 2017 was a great year for me personally, it was not a great year in general; in fact, for the world at large it’s been relentlessly terrible. These personal wins have made it a little easier to bear the firehose of awful things that appear day after day. So have all of the friendships I’ve made this year, most notably all the incredibly rad women; I don’t know where I would be without them, and I am grateful every day for what they have taught me and helped me through.
Some other cool things that happened:
What a year, honestly. I’m super grateful for the support and opportunities that 2017 brought; if you’re reading this, thank you for following along, coming to shows, singing at karaoke, and being in my life. And if your band’s looking for extra hands in the studio or live, my 2018 calendar is wide open!