Reflections on year-end, decade-end

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We are about to wrap up yet another decade, the 2010s are coming to a close. If we stop to think about that and its meaning we end up facing simple facts like one, time flies and two, we actually have only a few handfuls of decades on this planet (around 6-8 depending on the country you were born, if your genes are good perhaps you get to live 10 decades).

For me the 2010s were a literal roller coaster, my life changed drastically starting in 2010 and if anyone would ask me back then what my 5 year plan was I can guarantee you that not even my most dreamy and unrealistic goals would match what came to happen in the next 10 years. Let me tell you a bit more.

...if anyone would ask me back then what my 5 year plan not my most dreamy goals would match what came to happen in the next 10 years...

Firstly, 2010 was a good year, at least what I can remember of it. Abduzeedo was at its peak. I was speaking at design conferences around the world. My design studio Zee was having what I selfishly say the best year ever. We had started working with a Brazilian startup, which back in those days were a rarity. That led me to visit San Francisco for 3 months to try to raise money, which we failed of course. But that didn’t stop me or the startup. We kept going. That year, again, I went to San Francisco for another 3 month journey, this time by myself initially. I rented a studio in the Tenderloin, the only place I could afford. In the end it wasn’t as bad as they all said it would be, for someone coming from Brazil, it was more than safe plus my parents loved it when they visited me.

During that second trip, which I stubbornly decided to do despite no need I was rewarded (for lack of a better word) with a crazy surprise. You can call that a good omen, or just an omen, but exactly the dayI landed in San Francisco and moved to the new studio my inbox received an email titled “Hello from Google.” Honestly, I thought it was a spam and really left it unread for a day because I was getting my things together in the new place. A stranger, in a strange land where I could barely speak the language.

Back to the email a couple of days later I was shockingly surprised. It was a recruiter from Google asking me if I would be interested in going there for an interview. First I thought it was just a mistake, but after replying and receiving a response, I realized that it was true. Oh my God, I thought, how crazy is that. Coincidentally, I was in the US, in the Bay Area so we scheduled an on-site interview where I would present my work, however I didn’t have any portfolio done. Not to worry I thought. I would never be hired by Google. 

My doubtfulness about being hired ended up giving me the confidence and self-esteem I needed. I was so relaxed that I decided to build my portfolio in Keynote and present it with an iPad (which had been recently launched). I didn’t even take my laptop. It sounds insane, but I learned that my anxiety comes from things I really want and believe I can get, so I am afraid of blowing the opportunity. In that case, of course I really wanted, however I had no doubt I would not get it, so why stress.

That little story is how I got a job at Google. That was 2010. The next year I would move to a new country. Start a new life, meet new friends, learn a lot of new things. Everything was magical if you will, like being a child again. I felt that I was literally an unknown, so I could do whatever I wanted. I also thought I would get fired and going back to Brazil was definitely the most probable outcome. 

The years went by quite quickly. Google gave me the opportunity to learn so many things and definitely evolve as a designer. I got to work on so many amazing products with incredible people. I know it all sounds great but trust me, things are not as beautiful as everyone tries to portrait. Being here was a dream but it was also a curse. So many things were quite difficult. From learning how things work from the ground up, simple things like going to the dentist or the bank to more complex like finance and health, however the most difficult one, your now long distance family. My mom and dad. 

I’ve always been very close to my parents. They were wonderful to me and always told me to follow my dreams. I definitely did that, thanks mom and dad. That teaching led me to a place that was really far from them, which we shortened by video communication which seemed to help and keep us close.

Some years were almost uneventful looking back, some are amazing like when I got married to my wonderful wife, some are more positive because we tend to forget the minor negative things, but some are quite remarkable. One of those was 2016, the year my son was born. The year I first experienced fatherhood and at the same time the feeling of the possibility of losing someone that I barely knew but I already loved tremendously. 

My son was born in April and four days after he was born we learned that he carried a genetic disorder that would require us to stay in the hospital, in isolation for around 6 months. Looking back it was one of the saddest days of my life, not the saddest, more on that later. If you ask me about 2016 I would define it in 6 moments. My son’s birthday, finding out about the disorder, going to isolation, treatment, waiting for the treatment to work, and going home. I could spend hours talking about that experience, and most of those moments would be stories in which I had tears in my eyes, but I will focus on the last part. When we left the hospital. Driving home, after 117 days sleeping in the hospital. I was crying so much. Not of sadness but of happiness. Up to that moment I had never experienced that amount of joy in my whole life. 

Two years later, the opposite happens, this time I am crying like never before. This time, without any doubt, the saddest day of my life. The day my dad departed this world. The day I knew would come, but as everyone else I always thought it would not happen anytime soon. It’s life in constant change, it keeps on going whether we like it or not. This time I hated it. I miss him, I wished I had been nicer, showed how much he taught me despite the fact I always told him that.

So a decade is gone, like any other decade it had its ups and downs, but boy the downs were painful this time. It was also my 40th decade, which means that I have not many more left. Most optimists would say I am half way through, but I rather focus on cherishing every single moment. If there’s one thing I really learned this past 10 years is that life is literally unpredictable, in constant change and no matter where it takes you, you should never forget where you came from. And, if your mom and dad are still around, just hug them and tell them you love them.

Happy New Year!
Fabio

Written by

Abduzeedo

I'm a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.

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