December 20, 2022

5 things I learnt in 2022

With 2022 quickly ending, I wanted to share five life lessons I learnt over the last 12 months. This is the seventh year I have written a “lessons learnt” post. Check out the lessons learnt from 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021 – it’s always cool to see how I view things change over time!

Pauline on the beach
2022 in a nutshell: freedom

1. How to let go

Why do we hold on so tightly even though we know things are no longer serving us? This was a question I constantly asked myself this year.

A friend told me that misery is easy, but happiness is an intentional choice [1]

Despite choosing intentionality, I was confronted with the ugly, inevitable truth when I finally let go. It was uncomfortable, scary, caused uncertainty, and hurt badly.

We all avoid the emotions I described above. Who wants to be uncomfortable, scared, uncertain and hurt voluntarily? No one. Maybe in my case, I avoided it so much that I disrespected not only my own time but others’ time too. Because I knew that I wasn’t happy and held on longer than I should have to “give us more time.”

That isn’t something that I’m proud of, especially as the days and months that followed showed me that letting go was the move I should have made earlier. The other side had greener grass, beautiful flowers, and the bluest skies I’d ever seen.

Sunset in Croatia
Sunset in Croatia 🇭🇷

Some may see that I “threw it all away” because I believed this too at one point. I’m 10 months older since then, and although I sometimes miss my old life and “what could have been”, I’ve missed myself more.

The more I’ve let go, the more I’ve made space for new experiences and for the first time in a very long time, I’ve been the most alive.

2. Making deep connections, not deep attachments

One of my top priorities in 2022 was to connect. As I deep-dive into this topic, I refer back to my favourite Yung Pueblo quote.

Cultivating these deep connections came in different ways: reconnection, building, and maintenance.

  1. Reconnection: Several factors, like the pandemic, caused me to drift away from friends.

    As I prioritised reconnection, I was reminded how important it is to have these friendships around.

  2. 🧱 Building: Not only did I prioritise reconnecting with old friends, but I also became more open to exploring new connections.

    For most of this year, my solo-travelling adventure made it more critical than ever to build connections on the go.

    I became very good at this and now consider building new relationships as one of my superpowers. For the first time in my life, my phone book has numbers of people I know I can call at any time. It’s a good feeling. 😊

  3. 🔧 Maintenance: I get asked this all the time: what is the point of making friends when you’re never staying somewhere permanently?

    Creating deep connections take effort. Being on the move, somewhere in the world, connections can almost become ephemeral.

    I’m still learning to keep connections alive independent of location, and my efforts have been successful. For example, sending voice notes snippets of my day (my friend Georgie, especially, knows this very well 😂) to keep the connection alive.
Pauline and Georgie meeting in Santorini
Me and Georgie in Santorini 🏝️

Making deep connections, not deep attachments, also extends to romantic relationships, especially as I found myself single for the first time in 8 years. Compared to other types of relationships, one for next year’s list of lessons? I’m still figuring this out… 🤷🏻‍♀️

3. The compound effect

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been ambitious in the moves I make in my career. This year, in particular, showed me how everything I contributed to or built in the professional world has had a compounding effect. To illustrate this further:

  • Early 2000s: started blogging, part of a blogging community (before blogging became what it is now)
  • 2016: started teaching women how to code[2] with Code First Girls
  • 2017: started building a local community around CFG and got involved with other local communities either as a participant or leader [3][4]
  • 2018: started working in tech and shifted from Software Engineering to DevOps whilst still building communities around what I was learning and doing other DevRel activities on the side [5][6]
  • 2021: started my first role in technical community building and DevRel space [7]
  • 2022: promoted to head up community building at Gitpod[8]

Everything I worked on compounded over the years led to where I am today; I’m proud of myself and thankful for all the support and guidance from everyone who believed in me when sometimes I didn’t.

Romaric and Pauline at KubeCon NA
Original tweet

The road ahead sometimes feels uncertain, especially with my imposter syndrome trying to bring me down daily. But this is only a warm-up; the future is exciting – are you watching? [9] 🤩

4. More about Pawlean

My significant life changes caused several internal spirals. My most used word of 2022 is spiral. At one point, I got my nails done with spirals and found a necklace in Athens with a spiral… both of which I wore to signify my spirals.

Taking a selfie with the Acropolis in the background
Selfie by the Acropolis 🇬🇷

Sometimes I wish I could have avoided the energy I invested in my downward spirals. But sometimes, I’m glad each one knocked me off my feet because staring at the ceiling is where I often end up. And surprisingly, the moments of silence on the floor were what I needed to untangle, reset and give me clarity.

Untangle my chaotic thoughts, reset my intense feelings, and give me clarity on what to do next. Each time this happened, I learnt I’m braver, more capable, and stronger than I thought.

Although my mind sometimes is an unkind place, I’ve improved my relationship with my inner critic and every day, I feel like I know who I am and who I want to be.

(repeat after me: I’m Pawlean 😌[10])

5. Keeping a privacy sign on the door

Many noticed how I stopped publishing weekly posts, shared less on socials, removed 3,000 followers on Instagram, and even closed it off from the public. Maybe I’ll become the mysterious solo traveller [11] I always thought I’d eventually become. (Unlikely 😅)

This was significant as someone who has been oversharing and very open for years on every aspect of life, especially in the digital world. Upon reflection, I’m proud of this because I see this as a sign of personal growth. I know that in a few years, I’ll highlight 2022 as a pivotal year for significant character development [12][13]

In several drafts of this post, I ended up with ten more lessons I drew from writing in my journal almost daily that I’d love to share, but… that’s just for me. 🔐

What are the five things you’ve learnt this year? Comment below or link me to your blog posts. ✨

I wish you all a wonderful holiday season!

Leave a comment


These are some really profound learning Pauline!!
I’m just glad you are finding your happiness!


🫶 Appreciate the comment, Bhairavee!


Sounds like you’ve learned a lot of important stuff. =3


🫶 Thanks for reading, Megan!