Closing the chapter on one of the most formative years in my life is a curious feeling. I’m nervous and excited for 2013 and what it will bring to me, and I’m thankful for what I learned and what I became in the year that has now passed. While there were some trying times in 2012, I think I’m in a much better place now.
When I went home to Ohio for the Christmas of 2011, I had a hard time grappling with the fact that my hometown no longer felt like “home”. I went to bars and met people that I’ve known for years, but there was a part of me that couldn’t fully relate to them, and I’m sure they couldn’t fully relate to me. At this point in my life, San Francisco is home for me and it is where I feel the most comfortable and relaxed. Today I returned from my week long trip to Ohio for Xmas 2012, and this year I was much more comfortable and OK with being home, as I now had a much better mindset from which to approach things. My time with my friends and family was much better this year, as I no longer was distracted by the overwhelming feelings of being in a place that once felt like “home”, a place that may now feel a bit strange.
I often refer to this year as the year that I had my quarter-life crisis. Since my birthday is on January 2nd, the year and my age are very closely intertwined. As a 24 year old this year, I had to learn to be comfortable and confident in my own skin and in my personality, and I had to become comfortable in my career. I wrote about this over the summer, where I talked about my career/job change at BandPage, and when I described “being real” and authentic. This year I fully embraced my independence, which meant defining myself independently of anyone else, any job, and any career path that I’m in. I learned a great deal about myself, I went after some goals, not the least of which was exercising more and taking up cycling, which resulted in a loss of over 30lbs in the past 6 months. As I took on and conquered new challenges, this year has been freeing and greatly rewarding for me, for which I’m also very thankful.
In November I quit my contract at EA/Origin and decided to take a new job at Couchsurfing as their Community Manager. Relatively quickly after joining Origin, I realized that I’m not as comfortable working at big companies as I am at small startups. There are a lot of things you can and can’t do at big companies, there are lot of things you can and can’t say. Things are usually more defined for you at larger companies, and there are usually many more people involved and many more moving parts involved in pushing forward projects. Working at EA was a culture shock, after coming from the small startup, “just get shit done” environment at BandPage.
I started my new role at Couchsurfing on November 20th and it was like a breath of fresh air. Couchsurfing has a massive, deeply passionate and engaged community of well over five million members that have been couchsurfing for years. It’s worth mentioning that “Couchsurfing” has many different meanings in different contexts. Couchsurfing can mean the company that I work at, it can mean the actual act of Couchsurfing, and it can mean the website or mobile applications that the company develops. I feel very fortunate to be trusted by the company to help shepherd a community that is so passionate and emotionally invested, and the role has presented a lot of fun and interesting challenges.
Couchsurfing (the company) has a very flat organizational structure, one where open communication and suggestions are always welcome. Our CEO, Tony, deeply believes in working with the community and strongly influencing product development and iteration based on community feedback. I’ve never had an opportunity like this, to empower a community to have great impact on the products that it uses, and this is an extremely exciting opportunity for me. I’m very thankful that I took my friend (and now co-worker) up on her offer to get a beer and learn more about Couchsurfing, since it ultimately led me to interview for a job that I’m confident will be great for me personally and for Couchsurfing (in all contexts).
This year will be one of great importance to me, a year which was packed full of memories of great highs and some occasional lows. I turn 25 in roughly 36 hours and tonight I’ll be saying goodbye to an adventurous 2012. I hope 2013 will be as good to me as 2012 has been. Happy New Year’s – let’s make 2013 a year to remember and celebrate.