2020 Recap

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Wow... what a year. Australia started the year with fire burning a significant portion of our beautiful bushland and wildlife with smoke choking the skies and people unable to go outside and enjoy their summers. In February, we experienced significant rainfall which extinguished most of the fires and allowed the rest to be contained. 

In March, I had a housewarming for the new place my partner and I moved into in January, as well as doing a 16km bike ride with some friends. That was a significant win for me since I hadn't ridden a bike in nearly 10 years and I managed to push on for the biggest loop around Lake Burley Griffin on an e-bike. Shortly after, though, all of Australia went into lockdown due to COVID-19 and I worked from home full time from late March all the way through to mid-November, which was nice because I could use my lunch breaks to improve my drawing skills but also not so great because I started stacking on the weight and by the time I stepped on the scales at the end of August, I'd put on 10kg.

After that, my partner and I both embarked on a weight loss journey to become stronger and fitter. We started walking every day and eating smaller portions. I've been calorie counting but my partner not so much since she's just happier being a bit healthier overall whilst I want to lose 30kg by the time I'm 30 in August next year. We're 4 months in now and I have lost nearly 17kg and gained a lot of fitness. We did a nearly 6km walk around the neighbourhood on Christmas Eve to check out the Christmas lights which is way more than we could've done even 2 months ago.

I finished a coding course (CS50) in July and then (finally) Drawabox in August. After I finished Drawabox, I rewarded myself by enrolling in an online Introduction to Concept Art course offered by CDW Studios in Adelaide. It was fantastic being able to get personalised feedback every fortnight and I learnt a lot about design. I did burn out a little bit though because there was 12 weeks of not being able to do much after work except work on my homework. I did get some really cool pieces out of it in the end that I posted up on my Instagram. I also learnt a lot about 3D modelling and graphics and have decided to continue pursuing that as an interest alongside my 2D art. Speaking of my 2D art, I spent a few months drawing figures and portraits every day to start learning how to draw humans. Progress is slow but they're looking less alien every day, which is so exciting.

I've also started trying to reduce the amount I rely on construction in my drawings and the seagulls below are probably one of the best examples of this. 

On the coding front, I created a Discord bot to track drawing streaks as my final project for CS50 and I've continued to improve and refactor it since then. I've learnt a lot in the process about Python, Git, and developer workflows in general. It has been awesome seeing it really come along from the initial piece I wrote and I keep learning new things to improve the code every time I sit down to work on it.

The goals I set at the end of 2019 were as follows:

  • Progress in Drawabox - I'm not going to put the pressure on myself to finish, but I would like to progress and at least submit lesson 5.

Clearly this wasn't ambitious enough as I finished Drawabox in August. I'm happy I finally got there after 2.5 years though and I provided my thoughts more fully in this post.

  • Learn to code properly! My work now provides me with more opportunities to use code to automate many tasks and I'm currently working on automation to keep my network documentation up to date.

This was a bit of a vague, floaty goal at the time but I completed CS50 in July and once I did, I finally felt like I could tackle projects I'd wanted to build for a long time. My ability to work through a problem improved significantly and I far better understood the tools I was using and found consistent ways to work with them each time. So despite being a vague goal, I definitely think I checked it off this year.

  • Save a significant amount of money towards a house deposit. I don't want to put an exact number on it because I'm aware that things do pop up that often take priority.

I did actually have a number in mind for this one and I beat it by quite a bit. Thankfully COVID-19 and working from home enabled both my partner and I to save a lot of money on commuting and work lunches which went straight into the savings account.

  • Draw more in general. Currently I'm struggling to manage two days a week and finding it hard to get enthusiastic for it, but I suspect this is more to do with my mental health struggles around moving at the moment so once I've settled again, I can start to work towards building better habits.

Starting in late March (coincidentally, also when I started working from home), I began to draw every day. Some days I could only manage a few lines, others I worked extensively on project pieces or created cute little illustrations. Either way, I've been going for nearly 300 days now and I think you can officially say this one is checked off. My mental health improved a lot this year, being at home took a lot of background stress away and gave me time to process some of my own issues and try to grow a bit more as a person.

It's at this point that I should set some goals for 2021. Some of these are going to be vague by necessity and others may not be ambitious enough but we'll see where I come out to in a year, I guess!

  • Lose 30kg total by the time I'm 30. If I could lose a further 40kg from where I currently am over the next year or so while also building my fitness level, I would be very, very happy.
  • Do some more online courses for art and draw more of the kind of stuff that really interests me, e.g. concept and environmental art.
  • Continue to push my coding skills and build my Streakbot into a project that I could distribute to other people to run on their own servers.
  • Gain at least one new certification for my career.
  • Be in a house my partner and I own by Christmas next year.