Juha-Matti Santala
Community Builder. Dreamer. Adventurer.

A quick life update

It's been 9 weeks since I last shared a life update in the blog when I shared my decision to leave Mozilla and Berlin and move back home. Quite a lot has happened since.

Moved back home

After that last update, I wrapped up work, packed my bags and took the train and boat to home. I have to say, the boat ride from Travem√ľnde to Helsinki was one of the most relaxing ones in my life. I had just finished up all the stressful things in life, had no plans for the near future and could do nothing but sleep, eat and read books at the sea. I slept so good on that first night on the boat.

I was also lucky that a friend offered their sofa to me for February so I could start looking for an apartment as I didn't to sign a lease without seeing an apartment. As soon as I arrived to Turku, I found an apartment that had a showing the same night, went there, submitted an application and two days later heard I got an apartment. What a relief!

I'm so happy with the new place. It's a nice ~60 square meter apartment with a really optimal floor plan (small bedroom, large living room that fits my work area and a living room area spaciously, a nice kitchen and plenty of storage room. I have three windows and from all of them I can see the forest. During the night, there are no artificial light coming in which is such a bonus.

One of the key reasons I chose to move back home to Turku is the familiarity of everything. I know how everything works, I have plenty of friends and family in the area and as a stress reducer, that has been such a good thing compared to living in a different country with different culture and language.

Started a new job

I got lucky with the apartment but even more with the job hunt. I have to say, I was so nervous to resign with no plans for the future. I created a website as a kind of job application in case someone heard about me looking for a job and wanted to learn more.

I had no idea that it would get nearly 70 000 views in the first 2 weeks. I ended up not sending a single job application as all my time went to answering the messages I got as 41 companies reached out. I ended up having deeper discussions with 15 and finally asked for 3 offers to choose from before choosing to join MadBooster. We have a great small team of developers there and I've already learned so much from them and I'm excited for the support and onboarding I've received.

It was such an privileged position to be in and quite frankly one I didn't expect. But it was cool to see so many people in those companies either having been my students at the university or different workshops, readers of my blog posts and members of our Turku <3 Frontend community.

Being in that positioned really helped me because I knew I could turn down anything that didn't exactly fit my main criteria: no (people) leadership responsibilities, no client responsibilities and no (tech) lead roles + I wanted to do a 4-day week. It also gave me the ability to have very honest discussions with people as I didn't have to prove myself to anyone or convince anyone of anything.

It was lovely to see so many companies being open to me joining them with my terms during my struggles. I'm deeply thankful to all my friends and anyone in my networks who helped me during that job hunt to find a place where I can work while I start my process of getting myself healthy and back into good fit again.

After the first few weeks at the new job, I'm very happy with my choice. And the 4-day week has been such a brilliant decisions. I'm taking Wednesdays off on default so I never have to get through more than 2 days at once. Not only does it offer me a safe haven in the middle of the week to take care of stuff (like laundry, going for walks, shopping, cleaning, writing, etc) but it also provides me mental comfort upfront when I know there's no 5-day week waiting for me if I feel tired.

Leaving DevRel temporarily is a bit scary

One thing I haven't talked about a lot with anyone is that not only did I change jobs and where I live but I also put my career on-hold for indeterminate time. I left DevRel, community building and all of that behind but I'm hopeful that in a few years, as I get better, I'd be able to make a comeback.

I worked so hard on making it in DevRel and after years of pushing myself hard, feeling insecure and impostor a ton and finally "making it", it lasted a few months and I had to take a break. It's definitely not what I imagined would happen when I joined Mozilla, quite the opposite.

Being away from all of that is probably not doing me many favors in the career thing but that's a trade-off I have to accept if I want to fix my problems. I do have one lifeboat project, Syntax Error newsletter, that I hope keeps me afloat in that world just in case I can make it back there one day.

I am a bit relieved though. I often find myself laying in the bed thinking "I'm so happy I don't have any of those responsibilities right now". My daily stress levels are down like 1000 points (on an arbitrary imaginary stress scale).

So far so good

It's still very early to say many things but I'm really happy with how things have gone and how I feel right now. I've managed to say no to a few interesting things as I'm trying to learn not to fill my evenings and weekends with new stressors and while it's hard to say no to fun things, I'm proud of myself so far.

It's also quite nice to be home at 18 with the day's work already done and finished instead of leaving the office around midnight on Wednesday after the third event of the week, exhausted and worn out.

With the previous community and event work, there was almost never (other than summer and winter holidays) a moment when I'd be finished with one thing before starting a new thing. There was always a dozen of overlapping things going on.

On the contrast now, I really enjoyed when the other Friday I finished my tasks before the end of the day, spent the last few moments at work learning new things and then came to the office on Monday and was able to just tell my colleague that I had nothing on my table and he provided me with a new ticket. It was so refreshing and calming and I'm thinking I like this new thing.

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