2023: Thoughts on new challenges and sharing experiences

2023-01-13  Off-topic

A belated happy new year! If you’re reading this, I hope you have a terrific 2023.

I recently went back and read some old posts that have long since been deleted from this blog - writings from my journalism days that reminded me of my perspectives on certain news events and emerging technologies from the mid-2010s and sparked some nostalgia for my early twenties along the way.

By the end of 2017, I’d landed a job in cyber security and the tone of my blog changed. Gone were the slightly rambling posts that gave a sense of personality, and what came was primarily content consisting of technical notes about things I’d been working on in Python or a particular forensic artefact (don’t get me wrong - I’m proud of many of these articles, and they remain a useful way of organising my thoughts).

Reasons for retreating

My change of industry played a role in this. Despite having reported on cyber security for four years beforehand, my hesitance over ranting about a sector I was quite new to in the same way I’d written about consumer technology was justified. Another factor was that my job just wasn’t as public - an interesting conversation or briefing as a journalist might make a good blog post if it didn’t fit my employer’s site, but accounts of incidents I work and security discussions with clients must stay behind closed doors.

But there was also a force at play that was more toxic than humbleness or confidentiality: anxiety. I’d seen flashes of it before as I battled imposter syndrome on entering cyber security, but the real thing crept up on me during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I spent a good deal of 2022 pushing myself in various ways to get it under control. It still has its occasional moments, but I’m in a much better place heading into 2023.

While keeping background stress as low as possible helped with this, I was also anxious in less of a clinical sense about writing. The less you put yourself out there, the less likely it is that you’ll be called out on something, or somebody will tell you that you’re wrong. Inertia is like laying in a safety net.

Incremental improvement

But if you’re sitting still on the net, paralysed out of fear of action and its consequences, you’ll never walk the tightrope. Sure, it’s far less likely that you’ll fail, but you’ll also never do anything remarkable. For all we know, the greatest ideas in history might not be the ones in modern day textbooks - they might never have made it that far, living and dying inside their creators’ heads because they were never shared.

I doubt anything I write on these pages will change the world, and most of my ideas are iterations on or combinations of existing ones, rather than fully original thoughts. But even if I have nothing revolutonary to say, the little things that inspire me to put digital pen to paper could still be enough to make our small corner of the world a better place, even if it’s just a tip that saves someone else five minutes.

Some changes in my life have put me what will hopefully be a far better place to trial ideas and implement change in 2023, and I intend to write some more personal, thoughtful posts to share my learnings from these experiments. I still might not be able to go into as much detail as I did a decade ago, but I’m feeling energetic, inspired, and more motivated to share my experiences than I have been in years.

If you’re interested, check my blog regularly for new posts, and follow me on Twitter for day-to-day updates. Feel free to email me, too - it’s an exciting, optimistic time and I’d be happy to connect.

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