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Emerging from 2018

2018 was a rather special year. It was the first year I spent as a father of two. It was the year I finally decided to jump ship and try new challenges professionally. And it was definitely the most psychologically exhausting year I have ever lived.

First, let’s talk about fatherhood a bit. Having a two kids is not twice as hard as having one. It’s ten times as hard. There are no breaks, ever. You are constantly out of time. You are racing for a finish line that is twenty years away, and losing. You are not living, you are surviving.

It didn’t help that I felt constantly guilty. Not being able to give my 100% to the firstborn like I used to really took a toll on my confidence as a good father. And knowing that I would never be able to give it to my second made it even worse. The first few months were spent worrying whether having a second child was the right thing to do.

And it was, of course! It simply took longer for the thought to sink in. Now that he’s a bit older and can move around, he can play with his big sister and it makes all the difference in the world. For a few moments I can just sit back and listen to them laughing together like maniacs, and slowly begin to realize that for every day that passes, it’s just going to get easier and more fun (well, until puberty strikes, but I’ll cross that bridge when I see it). Listening to your children laugh is really the best audio therapy you can have.

Speaking of audio, the other significant event of 2018 is that I finally decided that after ten years at Turbulent, it was time for me to leave and meet new challenges. I quit in August, and joined Audiokinetic a few weeks after. Working on a large, long-lived C++ multi-platform software project like Wwise is really the opposite of the spectrum from what I’m used to in terms of software development.

The first two months were quite nerve-wracking. While I knew that going from being one of the most senior employees at one company to being a total newcomer at another would be disorienting, what I did not expect was just how experienced and incredibly talented my coworkers were going to be. Ten years of experience is really not that big a deal at Audiokinetic. Most of my teammates have been around for longer, and they are exceptional programmers to boot. When I realized the level of expertise that was expected of me, I frankly got scared.

I kept busting estimates (still do), kept jumping into code that I had never seen before (still do), and kept making newbie mistakes like contributing C++11 code into a C++03 codebase. I broke the build so many times I lost count. Thankfully, my supervisor helped me keep my anxiety in check by giving regular feedback I could act on.

I think at this point I carved out my own little place in the team. The tasks assigned to me show a certain level of trust, which really helps build back the confidence, albeit slowly. Overall, I am really happy I made the move. Not only did I develop new skills, but the experience has shown me that I can still deliver even in a situation where my position is not practically guaranteed by mere seniority and intricate knowledge of the inner workings of the company. Now I know for a fact that I’m not just resting on my laurels, and really am working my ass off.

So here’s hoping that 2019 will be a year where I can finally start reaping what I sowed!