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It has been exactly one year since I started my Bitcoin journey, and after being inspired by meeting several amazing Canadian Bitcoiners over the past few weeks, I want to share my story. In some ways, my orange pilling has been the greatest thing to ever happen to me, but it has also been extremely trying. “The Hero’s Journey”, I guess.
I’ve been a working level economist in the Canadian government for about 8 years. I’m fortunate to have a career as a public servant where I’m able to help people. I feel honored to serve Canadians and make a positive difference for my country. When the pandemic hit in March 2020, I did my part to help out. I followed mandates and restrictions, and I genuinely felt like I was doing the right thing.
The isolation and loneliness were tough. Very tough. As an extrovert who’s used to a lively and collaborative environment where routine and the sharing of ideas/thoughts were important, working from home was absolute torture to me. To help me get through it, I picked up a few new hobbies, adopted a wonderful dog, and started a passion-project. For years, I had been quite active in the FIRE (financial independence/retire early) community, and started a financial literacy coaching company.
Like most people in the FIRE movement, I dismissed Bitcoin and crypto currencies as interesting, but likely passing fads. I could see that long lasting pandemic lockdowns would likely cause supply shortages, and the combination of central bank money printing and government stimulus would likely be inflationary in the longer term. While I had been preaching low-cost index funds (like any good Boglehead does), I started to consider certain inflation hedges for my own investment portfolio, and thought that maybe my coaching service could differentiate itself in that way. I could be “The Inflation Guy” in the FIRE community. I knew that Bitcoin was a fixed supply asset, but I couldn’t have told you how many coins were out there. I started my orange pill journey with the intention of learning how exactly “crypto” would fit into an inflation hedging strategy, but I knew it had a place.
I know from experience that I’m an audio and collaborative learner. I “get” things when I listen to people discuss them, and then talk them out with someone. I tend to get scatter-brained when I read, and I’ve always been better with numbers than I am with words. I’ve been an avid podcast listener for well over a decade, and I would often pick a topic and listen to as many podcasts as I could about it until I’m ready to jump to a new topic. I went into learning about “crypto” in the same way. Despite being trained in the Keynesian school of economics, I’ve always felt that sound money had its place in the world. I’ve also considered myself a skeptical Keynesian.
While I could see and understand the general economic aspects of Bitcoin and how it could be “digital gold”, I’ve always lacked the computer science and technology skills/interest to feel confident about jumping into the world of cryptocurrencies. I guess I just felt too intimidated to really dive in. Things like Ethereum seemed (still seem) more like programming languages than money, and I couldn’t make the distinction between crypto and Bitcoin. But when I decided to commit to learning, I went in with an open mind. I wish I could say that I recognized these altcoins as shitcoins right away, but I didn’t. Despite not truly understanding what they were, I created a modest portfolio of the top 8-10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization that attempted to mimic what a cryptocurrency index fund would look like.
In the meantime, I was listening to podcasts from Robert Breedlove, Peter McCormack, and Pomp who were all telling me that Bitcoin was the only true currency in the sea of crypto. I remember listening to Breedlove’s series with Michael Saylor in mid to late June of last year and feeling things start to really fall into place. I didn’t completely understand what I was listening to, but I recognize now that that series was rewiring my brain. This is when I REALLY started down the rabbit hole. I ordered a copy of “The Bitcoin Standard”, and I spent the summer consuming as much Bitcoin content as I possibly could. Aside from his Saylor series, Breedlove’s interview on Lex Fridman’s podcast was also a major orange pilling experience. So was an episode of Jordan Peterson’s podcast with Breedlove, Gigi, Richard James, and John Valis (who’s since become a major influence on me… and a fellow East Coast Canadian). I also used my summer to brush up on my technical analysis. I worked as an equity trader about 15 years ago, and thought the (limited) skills I had in trading would help me out a bit. It was a comfortable “touching point” for me, and an area of the Bitcoin ecosystem that was more familiar. I created a Twitter account devoted strictly to Bitcoin in September, and I’ve been trying to contribute as much as I’m able to the Bitcoin community ever since.
If summer of 2021 was my introduction to Bitcoin, fall was a honeymoon period. I had so much excitement inside of me, and I wanted to share it with as many people as I possibly could. Since covid restrictions eased a bit, I set up a FIRE meetup in early October to talk about how Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies fit into a FIRE lifestyle. Over the years, I’ve organized 5-10 of these kinds of meetups where people would share ideas on how to save money, maximize credit card rewards, and live purposely. A normal turnout for one of these events was around 8 people… my Bitcoin event brought out a dozen. I didn’t realize it at the time, and looking back on it I know that I wasn’t anywhere near qualified for it, but I was “teaching” Bitcoin to people who had barely heard of it. I even spoke openly about financial literacy and Bitcoin with my managers and coworkers. It was around this time that a local Bitcoiner met with me for a coffee. The first time that I talked about Bitcoin with a Bitcoiner in “real life”. He remains someone I look up to, and I can proudly call a friend. By the end of 2021, I had completely sold out of my altcoins, and was completely in Bitcoin. So Nick, thanks for helping me see the light, and realizing that one doesn’t “invest” in Bitcoin, they save in Bitcoin. The song of the shitcoin siren is tempting, and most of us fall for it at some point in our journey. Thankfully, I didn’t learn this lesson the hard way. I was able to sell out of my positions at a slight loss, and consider that loss the price of tuition. It was around this time that I also learned the importance of self custody… Too bad that I would later lose my ColdCard in an ice fishing accident. Why is it that Bitcoiners seem to have so many boating and water related accidents!?
While summer and fall were filled with learning and optimism, winter was extremely difficult. As anyone who’s dived deeply into the rabbit hole knows, there are some parts of the journey that make you question previously held beliefs and can change your views on certain aspects of the world around you. I realize that this is tough for everyone, but try doing it alone… during another covid lockdown… while you live in Ottawa in the winter.
I switched jobs earlier in the year and wasn’t fitting in very well. I was used to a certain kind of workplace culture, and my new job prioritized a different set of beliefs than I was used to. I had spent the vast majority of my career in an analytical role on a team (and government department) that was very much apolitical where statistics did the talking. My new role felt more adherent to the narratives of elected officials, even though public servants like me are supposed to remain politically neutral. I had already taken some time off in late 2021 to process a very difficult professional dilemma I found myself dealing with by the time the cold/dark days of Canadian winter rolled in.
… then the truckers came.
By the time the Freedom Convoy was being reported on the news, I was already questioning a lot of things I was seeing. I was staying at my parents’ place for a few weeks, but when the convoy began to make its way to Ottawa, I decided to follow it. I literally drove alongside the convoy across several Canadian provinces. Along the way, seeing people waving Canadian flags as they gathered on overpasses. It was an absolutely surreal experience that I’ll never forget.
The first week of the protests in Ottawa were exceptionally difficult for me. I would often work from 9am to 5pm then make my way downtown to walk around the collection of protesters and big rigs. On most evenings, I would just be listening to a podcast as I walked past people who genuinely seemed happy. There was a deep sense of community in the crowd, and it was obvious from watching the way people interacted. Smiles. Light hearted joking around. Playfulness. From time to time I would chat with people, ask them where they were from, and let them know that there were people like me in the city that supported their right to peacefully assemble. I had a few conversations with some truckers about diesel prices, real estate, and inflation. These interactions really made me feel something I hadn’t felt in a while… pride in my country. It lifted my spirits to see “community” again after 2 years of lockdowns. It was also heartwarming to see Quebecers and Altertans chatting in broken English. I grew up in the 90s, at a time when there was a genuine rift in Canada between French speaking Quebec and the rest of Canada. This divide was extra impactful on me, since my mother is francophone and my father is anglophone. Something special happened in Ottawa this winter, and it saddens me that many (maybe even most) Canadians still haven’t realized it yet.
As good as I felt walking along Wellington Street in the evening, I was continuing to struggle at work. I had told my manager that I was talking to the protesters, and I could see that he was ‘concerned’. He didn’t discipline me for it, but he made it crystal clear that he didn’t support what I was doing. Since I was doing it after work on my own time, there wasn’t anything he could do. I decided to take some more time off work to process what was happening. I have trouble putting into words what going through the Freedom Convoy was like for me. I really wish I would have been further along my journey into this magical internet money because it certainly was overwhelming. I participated in quite a few Twitter Spaces discussions during those few weeks because I felt so alone when I would come home from walking around the parked trucks and I was looking for the sense of community I felt when I was down there. Most of my friends were (and remain) against the convoy and what it stood for and it all made (makes) me feel lost. A lot of tears were shed in those weeks, but a lot of growth was made.
I was aware of what the Bitcoin community was doing to support the Freedom Convoy. I followed the Twitter threads and listened to the podcasts. I knew that Canadian Bitcoiners were stepping up to do what they felt was right to support the movement. I wanted to help so badly… but I was afraid. I was afraid that if I contributed in any way, I would be putting my career at risk. I also knew that I was just some pleb with 250 Twitter followers that nobody knew. How could I possibly help, even if I wasn’t a coward? At its core, Bitcoin is about Proof of Work, and at the time I hadn’t done the work.
I was invited to a Bitcoin meetup organized on Twitter that happened while the convoy was in town. Several Bitcoiners that I had been following for a while had come to the capital to experience what was happening in person. There is a certain kinship that I felt right away when I met other Bitcoiners. The first person I met at that meetup has become a close friend that I speak to daily and has become one of the most important people in my journey (yes Rox, I’m talking about you). I can only speak for myself, but friendships built through orange pilling feel special. I also met a content creator in the Bitcoin community whose work I really respect. Meeting him really was a fanboy situation, and now rely upon him for all kinds of advice on Bitcoin (you’re one of the good guys, Len). This was the kind of community I was searching for.
In the months since the trucks left Ottawa, I’ve made it a focus to learn as much as I can, and to let my curiosity take me wherever it goes. At this point, I think I’ve listened to at least one episode of every Bitcoin podcast out there, and while I didn’t make it in person, I think I watched every single panel from the Bitcoin 2022 conference. I’ve purchased more books in the past 6 months than I had previously bought in the past 6 years, and my “recently viewed” list of YouTube videos reads like a who’s who of Bitcoin content creators and macroeconomic analysts. There have been times when I felt burnt out and/or pessimistic from the journey. The first year of a Bitcoiner’s path isn’t always easy, but it got better for me as I met others who had gone through it. I’m continually amazed at how much of my preconceived notions have been questioned, and much about how I viewed money and economics has been relearned. It’s humbling and stimulating at the same time… It’s such a unique experience, but I’m grateful for those who have come before me. I know that I’m still early in the journey, and there will be more trying times ahead, but I know that I won’t be dealing with them in solitude.
At no point in the past year has price been much of a factor in my commitment to the long-term importance of this amazing technology. I’ve been dollar cost averaging (DCA) regularly, and turning any extra fiat bucks into sats along the way. Given my experience in index ETF investing, I’ve been quite focused on learning about the various Bitcoin ETFs that are available to Canadian investors. This has led me to study publicly traded companies that are involved in the Bitcoin universe, especially the Bitcoin miners. Diving into the economics, operations, and importance of these companies has been a rabbit hole onto itself. I am so incredibly bullish that this industry can lead Canada (and the world) into a period of energy abundance and environmental harmony. It’s like an intellectual Kinder Surprise, where Bitcoin is the chocolate and the mining industry is the toy in the middle.
I remain active on Twitter (@TheRulersBroken). I’m a contributor to a few group chats, and I try to participate in Clubhouse and Twitter Spaces discussion. I’ve also been lucky enough to attend a few meetups in person, I’ve met several people for coffee to chat Bitcoin, and I’ve hung out with and picked the brains of the guys from Bull Bitcoin. Every time I meet a fellow Bitcoiner, I leave the conversation feeling energized. It’s amazing how people with all sorts of backgrounds and interests can find common ground in Satoshi’s creation. I’m so incredibly bullish on Bitcoin, and I feel this way because of Bitcoiners.
I’m still trying to figure out how I can best contribute to this community, but I know this is where I belong. Maybe just being in the community is enough, but for the past few months I’ve felt a strong desire to create something. I still don’t know what that is, but I know that I’ll find it if I keep surrounding myself with the great people that I’ve met on my journey. I came for the inflation hedge, lived through a moment in Canadian history, and now I’m sticking around through a bear market to build a better world.
This is a guest post by The Broken Ruler. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Satoshi’s Journal or Satoshi’s Entertainment Company.