2023: a year in review
This was a weird year.
I ended it in Brazil, spending Christmas and New Year’s with my family for the first time since 2016. I’ve seen people I hadn’t seen in possibly decades and connected with a part of my family I wasn’t close with before. Although I had a really nice time, I couldn’t help the feeling of “cultural shock”.
In Germany, we spend the Christmas days with my partner’s family and then go back home on the 26th where we take the time to decompress and introspect before the new year starts. I usually spend time reflecting on what happened, journaling and thinking about what’s coming next. In Brazil, I’ve been surrounded by people 24/7, with not much time or space to be with myself, which in a way makes me feel like my year hasn’t really ended/started yet. This is also why this recap is coming late, almost at the end of January.
Looking back, there were many great moments to cherish but unfortunately most of my memories were overshadowed by how I felt about work this year, so let’s start there:
I haven’t written much about work since I changed jobs in November 2022 and that’s because I just didn’t really know what to write. As I didn’t know what to say whenever I met friends and ex-colleagues.
I knew from the beginning it wasn’t a cultural fit, but I kept telling myself it would maybe get better. Or it would be worth having the project I was hired to work on finished. Or at least I had a lot of freedom and flexibility.
Time passed and work became this frustrating thing we don’t talk about. And I felt less like myself for not liking what I do for 40 hours a week.
Until my body made me stop. It’s a bit scary how, even when we think we’re aware of how things affect us, we sometimes need to overflow to notice the cup is too full. I got quite sick in the beginning of December and after taking the time to stop and listen to myself, I resigned.
I was surprised at how much lighter I immediately felt afterwards. Even though I still don’t know what I’m doing next, it feels like me again. The one who crossed the ocean by herself, without a plan or money, with only three months on a tourist visa to deal with Italian bureaucracy without speaking any Italian. And she figured it out. I missed her.
Going back to my birthday question, I still don’t know exactly what I want my 35th year of life to be like, but I sure want it to be lighter and more intentional.
A list of personal highs and lows
- Struggled with my body and physical condition, but skated the 10k race despite the horrible weather, went to Critical Mass for the first time and joined an inline speed skating club in Berlin.
- Finally got cherry tomato plants for the balcony and was incredibly proud of eating my own tomatoes for months!
- Mad at capitalism; mad and overwhelmed with generative AI all around and how much resources and technology we have available but focused on things that don’t actually matter; mad at not finding anything anymore in this mess internet became, filled with ads and useless search results.
- Jason Lengstorf content, especially his views on career growth and the 4 Web Devs, 1 App Idea series.
- Got a new couch, new TV, new wardrobe, new art for the walls, and made our home more like us.
- Visited Barcelona with a friend and Gaudí blew my mind.
- Saw Emicida live and B O D I E S at the Philharmonic!
- Possibly the year I felt the most anxious and pessimistic about too many things.
- I thought I hadn’t done much apart from work and that hobbies were hard, but this year I did pottery, writing and drawing classes!
- Attended the most inspiring events: beyondtellerrand & CreativeMornings.
- Got closer to some friends and ate a lot of great food together!
- Decided to escape German winter in Brazilian summer and spend more time with family and friends for the first time since I moved to Berlin 6.5 years ago.
- Ottolenghi’s chili butter cauliflower, pasta alla Norma & Banh Mi!
We decided to cancel Netflix at some point this year because we were barely watching it since we got the new TV and there’s just so much there that we would never find anything. We still watched a lot of TV this year, as we tried AppleTV and Disney+ again, and Mubi became my go-to place for “I don’t wanna think too much about what to watch but still watch something good”, like The Five Devils (Léa Mysius, 2022) and Shoptlifters (Hirokazu Kore-eda, 2018).
One of my favorite things to watch this year was actually on YouTube though: Critical Role’s Candela Obscura, in particular the second installment (Needle & Thread) with Spenser Starke as game master. His cinematographic style and pace combined with the characters and actors were incredible. I never thought I’d be so invested in RPG and although I’ve enjoyed other episodes of the regular campaigns, this new game system and universe is another level. And it’s only 3 episodes per circle!
Another one was The Bear, which I kept seeing praise for on social media, but had no idea what it was about. I love how nerve-wrecking the chaos is and the episodes are really well constructed.
My cinema highlights were Aftersun (Charlotte Wells, 2022) (which took some time to get to me until the Under Pressure scene came to make it one of my favorites of the year), Women Talking (Sarah Polley, 2022), Close (Lukas Dhont, 2022), Barbie (Greta Gerwig, 2023) (more for the collective pink-craze all over than for the actual movie, to be honest), Past Lives (Celine Song, 2023) and the Brazilian Mars One (Gabriel Martins, 2022).
One thing from the internet: Vasilis van Gemert’s talk at border:none 2023, Do we have to reinvent the wheel?
After the year of most abandoned books comes the year of most read books without noticing. In 2023 I read 36 books!
It was also the year of most graphic novels (10 in total) and my absolute favorite was Stone Fruit (Lee Lai), followed by Thieves (Lucie Bryon) and Ducks (Kate Beaton). I read the second volume of Lightfall (Tim Probert) in French and this still blows my mind (I don’t speak French).
From the non-fiction list, I finally read Atomic Habits (James Clear) and really identified with Offline Matters (Jess Henderson). On the fiction side, I would pick the Japanese Breasts and Eggs (Mieko Kawakami), the Brazilian Suíte Tóquio (Giovana Madalosso) and the worth-the-hype Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow (Gabrielle Zevin).
I also read a lot on the internet and in 2024 I want to keep better track of what’s interesting, but here’s one that feels very relevant to not remembering those: Dave Rupert’s blog post “Expert Idiot” on how technology makes us dumb and overly confident.
This review took almost a month to be written. I’ve been doing this for myself for the past two years, but I started having mixed feelings about what to share, whether any of this is interesting enough to be public, etc. Maybe it’s just another effect of this strange year, but I noticed I’ve been consuming so much that I don’t have much mental capacity to create lately. So I might rethink how and what I want to write here moving forward.
As for how this started, I’m taking some time off between jobs to be present in Brazil and try to understand better what next steps make sense for me.
But for now I’ll be at the beach! Happy new year and until next time!
Written on a Sunday in January, 2024