I grew up wanting to be a writer. Not a coder, and certainly not a businessman. My high school yearbook says I'm most likely to be a journalist. But what I really always wanted to be was someone who creates worlds every day.
In some ways, that's been my approach to my technology work, too: I want to help bring future worlds to life. There's an infinity of paths we could all follow from right now; perhaps, with a little nudge, I can be a small part of finding one that's a little more kind, and a little more connected.
But quietly, I've found my way back to writing. I don't presume that any of it is publishable, but that isn't the point. It feels healthy, like exercising a muscle that's rarely used. Call it a hobby for now: a way to work on something uncommercial that uses another part of my brain to produce something that I may never choose to share with another human. Many of my friends are artists, and I'm constantly awe-struck by what they're able to make. I don't think I qualify to be one of them, but the point isn't to compare. It's just to make, and craft the best thing I can, that is as close to my truth as possible.
Working in the technology industry, and living in one of the most expensive places on the planet, naturally leads to a kind of imbalance. There are a lot of people who are obsessed with wealth, even if they don't have a name for it, which leads to a toxic climate of status symbols and importance signaling. "People don't move here because they want work / life balance," someone once told me.
I'm not energized by participating in any of that. I do love working with technology, but I'm not anxious to become "successful". I'd rather live decently but give myself space to follow my joy. This is one small way I can.
One concrete thing following my joy has brought me: I've found my way into real life communities (like Gallifrey One, the world's largest Doctor Who convention, which was life-changing in ways I could not have expected), and online communities that are a hundred times friendlier and more welcome than the social networks. Gatherings of people who are there just because they love something are pure in a way that tech events can never be (at least while there's so much money sloshing around); walking into a real-life space full of this kind of energy for the first time was beautiful. I'll never have that experience in a church, but I imagine that's what it must feel like.
In a broader way, I've realized this is what I've been craving: deep connections forged over a love of shared values, or certain shared experiences that define us - and which have explicitly not been forged over industry. And part of that is solitary. I'm allowing myself to explore the parts of my myself I let sit dormant, or worse, was quietly ashamed of, because I assumed they didn't have any value. That's no way to live. Nor is chasing wealth. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the only way to live is to tend to the things, the people, and the ideas that you really love.