Reflexions on my 28th Year

Every year, since my 23rd birthday, I share a blog post, summarizing the year and my experiences. It’s a personal retrospective I share in order to string a narrative through the year, and define and describe my life as it stands at the time. This is the fifth installment. 

Darkroom was just selected by Apple as one of the best apps on the App Store for 2015. It’s an indescribable honor to be featured alongside great products by a company I have admired and looked up to since I was a child.

When Matt and I started Darkroom, we wanted to model it after the Apple and Leica ethos. To us, that meant no gimmicks, and a profound respect to the user and their time using our product. It’s humbling to see that recognized today with Darkroom rated so highly and Apple recognizing it. Thank you for all your support throughout. I’m excited about Darkroom’s future. 

Today is my 28th birthday. I’m on a Greek island where 6 weeks ago thousands of people were arriving daily. It was an overwhelming experience and we’re back here to profile the locals. It’s a village of dreams and fantasies, and I’m thankful to spend my birthday here among a fantastic array of friends and friendly faces. 

We have only a few days left on the project, and after 2 months on the road, I’m spent. Over the past few weeks, Sara and I have started seeing mental snapshots of what some of the pages in the book might look like and we’re unbearably excited about bringing it to life. This book will be the first step in a long march to capture and share this historic event. We’ve seen this crisis from many angles, and witnessed it first hand. 

The world is in a precarious place today, and a nuanced understanding of reality is important as we continue to shape our policies and opinions through our elected officials. An educated public is a fundamental component of a healthy democracy, and we hope to do our part in sharing what we’ve experienced and learned first hand. 

When I left my job at Instagram, I wasn’t sure what I was leaving it to do, and at many points along the journey, I wasn’t sure whether or not I made the right decision. The decision to leave was made out of an inner conflict with where my life was headed. 

In San Francisco, what success was measured by and what I as a competitive person was competing with was pulling me down a road that felt foreign to me. Even today, when I try to more purely pursue my passions, it’s hard not to look over the Facebook fence and see what my friends in Silicon Valley are doing and not feel like I’m dragging my feet in the sand and falling behind. 

The same trait that made me successful in my time in the valley is also making it very hard for me to pull away, but what brought me to Silicon Valley is not what was keeping me there last year, so I had to face that reality. That much I knew. Where I go from here, I’m still figuring out.

It has taken a long time — Too long if I’m being honest with myself — but I’ve made a bit of progress. I’m still not where I want to be yet, but I’m working through it

A lot has happened this year:

Released Darkroom – February
London Trip – February
Middle East Trip – May
Released Darkroom 2 – August
PNW road trip – July
Month in NYC – August
Displaced – October to December

…along with a lot of other little trips along the year. I’ve visited so many countries, met so many people, and wrote a lot of code. Like, a lot. I’ve gone on my first backpacking trip, and I started writing my first book.

I feel more self aware than I ever have before, but I’m struggling to articulate it and actualize it. Sometimes it felt like I might be running away from something, but I feel good about how I’ve grown over the past year. I’m looking forward to a year of introspection and solidifying some big changes in 2016 as I crystalize Darkroom’s future and write Displaced’s first draft.

As 2015 comes to an end, I feel cautiously good. I feel like my relationship to the world is stronger and more mature. My thinking is still morphing, and I’m re-evaluating my emotional reactions and decision-making process. It’s taking time, but I’m slowly becoming more aware of the journey, and ultimately, that’s what helps me steer and push forward.

Thanks Sara Kerens for the photo.