Skip to main content
Karolina Szczur

I haven’t done any year in reviews in the past, but I believe it’s a great way of reflecting on accomplishments and hardships I’ve managed to overcome. Without further ado, here it goes.

Work #

Being in tech hasn’t been great for me in the last two years. In Australia, I was tied to a job that didn’t allow me grow, and even worse, actively discriminated against me when I’ve attempted to apply for more senior roles. I’ve been verbally harassed at work (it’s not any news, it has happened at other jobs before), but what made it even worse was lack of appropriate action, basic response mechanisms and inclusion credibility of the company, that’s far from reality. It’s been a huge weigh on my mental health. My career stagnated.

Luckily, in October I quit, and now I’m focusing on recalibrating my goals and trying to establish what to do next year. In the meantime, I’m consumed by conference organising, personal projects and helping with product at Calibre, which is growing strong with no funding whatsoever (try it out↗ if you need web performance tracking and tips).

I’ll most likely be looking for a new role in the first quarter of 2018 (say hi if you’re hiring).

Diversity and inclusion activism #

In 2017, I took my diversity and inclusion activism to another level. I’ve launched a successful Patreon↗ to support my efforts. I’ve been publishing more and rallying for more diverse, inclusive events, workplaces and other initiatives. I’ve forced the hand of Github to postpone their conference due to abysmal lack of diversity in the lineup. I’ve been trying to set an example for tech conferences through JSConf↗ and CSSConf↗ Australia. Probably around six months ago, I’ve stopped retweeting men, and focussed on giving a platform to the underrepresented.

I’ve constantly been reading and educating myself to make my feminism and activism intersectional. Next year, I’ll put even more focus on creating shareable resources and scaling my impact.

Writing #

One of the things I thoroughly enjoy, but still takes a fair bit of time is writing. The amount of research, spellchecking and edits that goes in every single post I publish is frankly, maybe slightly too much. Nonetheless, I was able to triple the number of posts compared to 2016 (14 versus 4). These numbers exclude newsletters, conference announcements and any other communications, so in reality, I wrote even more.

If I was to trust Medium, my stories were viewed more than 111,000 times. Not too bad. My writing skills improved exponentially due to practice and using Grammarly↗. I aim to publish more regularly and frequently in the next year.

Speaking #

I’ve very consciously limited the number of conferences that I present at. To be honest, they don’t bring as many benefits as they used to and preparing a talk implies of more than a month of work after-hours. Speaking at an event isn’t a decision I make lightly, especially with limited capability to travel. I’ve given two presentations in 2016, both well received by the community:

In 2018, I intend to present a few times, mostly focusing on industry culture, diversity, inclusion, web performance and front-end engineering. If you’ve heard about any good, inclusive conferences—let me know (bear in mind, I do have requirements for events I speak at).

Self-care #

Self-care somehow became a trend, which I’d assume is a good thing. For me, self-care is much more than a fling, or a lifestyle choice—it’s essential for my wellbeing and firmly ingrained in everything I do.

I’ve successfully embedded various types of exercise into my workdays. I’ve done 20 strength training sessions, eight squash court appearances and approximately 66 yoga classes (mostly vinyasa). Speaking of yoga, I’ve tried many places and discovered the ultimate studio—Good Vibes Yoga. I strongly recommend it, if you’re based in Melbourne.

Sadly, I didn’t manage to cycle a lot—only 68km this year (I usually forget to turn on Strava anyway). I’d love to do more, but a new bike purchase is in order (cheap single speeds aren’t comfortable and versatile enough for longer distances than a daily commute).

In 2017, I also got diagnosed with chronic anxiety. Now that I have more understanding of generalised anxiety, I see how it’s been there for years, wreaking havoc on my wellbeing. It got so bad I was unable to feel anything but stress and worry. I’m only now starting to feel enjoyment and occasionally, sparks of joy. I’m lucky enough to live in Australia, where residents and citizens can be eligible for a mental health care plan↗, resulting in 10 subsidised counselling sessions a year. A good counsellor has been instrumental in my recovery (again, if you’re in Melbourne, I cannot recommend The Mind Room↗ more).

Additionally, I’ve taken up meditation with Calm↗ app. It’s been a pure joy to use and easier to get hooked up to than I’d would have assumed. I’ve managed a 58 days streak and almost 100 sessions over the year.

I've been very wary of my boundaries and preferences—saying „no” to alcohol more frequently (it’s never been something I enjoyed in excess), reducing screen time, removing all work-related apps from my phone and taking time to listen to what my body and mind needed at the moment. If you haven’t invested in your wellbeing yet, I’d recommend doing so. It can have tremendously positive payoffs to all aspects of your life.

Apart from all of that, it’s been my second year living in Australia, now finally with permanent residency. It’s been a huge weight off my shoulders to be able to decide about my future without visa implications and not being tied to any employers. It's been a tough year, but I came at the end of it thanks to continuous support of my partner, close friends and family.

I’m looking forward to what 2018 will bring.