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How Bitcoin Made One Man’s Life Journey Worthwhile

By Mario Gibney
How Bitcoin Made One Man’s Life Journey Worthwhile 101
Source: iStock/Everste

This year, November rain proved to be very cold for the crypto market. However, inspiring stories from people in crypto might help the cryptoverse to warm up a bit.

Mario Gibney, Blockstream, a blockchain startup, employee and co-host of the Unhashed Podcast, just offered one of those stories by sharing his personal experience and telling how Bitcoin has changed his life for better.

Originally shared on Twitter, you can read about Mario’s journey below.


________

How Bitcoin Made One Man’s Life Journey Worthwhile 102
Mario Gibney

*Deep breath*

When I look back over the past 3 years, it is staggering how much my life has changed, and Bitcoin was a huge factor in that. Late 2015/early 2016 was the darkest period of my life.

I was falling further into debt failing out of a university program I didn't yet realize I hated, my social life was little more than getting drunk several nights a week, and I had no constructive hobbies - nights alone were often spent compulsively playing computer games.

I felt like I hadn't made progress on any long-term plans in years. Serious depression had started to take hold, which led to increasingly erratic sleeping patterns. My ability to focus was almost non-existent, as was my appetite.

I knew things had gotten really bad by January 2016 when I found myself contemplating suicide.
I started seeking psychotherapy, and thanks to that and the support of my friends and family, I managed to stabilize myself, bit by bit, in the following months.

Realizing how it was draining me, I quit my studies. But I was still generally aimless, in debt, and with a ton of time on my hands.

That spring, this thing called 'bitcoin' popped back into my mind. About a year earlier, a guy I'd met at a bar had raved about it.

I hopped on meetup and was excited to find an English-speaking Bitcoin group only a 15 minute walk from my apartment. (In a city like Seoul, that's basically next door.) I showed up to @seoulbitcoin for my first meetup in May 2016, and was hooked from the start.

The Bitcoin meetup in Seoul, 2016:

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Bitcoin itself is interesting. But a bigger deal for me was the people there. You couldn't ask for a better person than @SomsenRuben to welcome newcomers and show them the ropes.

I remembered that once upon a time I had been interested in computers other as a means to argue on internet forums, so I started learning coding. Having experts like @BenMcDonald___ and @abeikverdi give me tips and guidance as I struggled with C++ was invaluable.

Soon after me, @Sanket1729 showed up as another regular, and he patiently filled in more of my technical gaps in comprehension.

I suddenly had friends and a hobby that challenged me intellectually. Instead of obsessively slamming beers and hoping to get laid, weekend hours were spent huddled in a cafe, figuring out why the UTXO set was important, or why deploying SegWit was so complicated.

When alone, I progressed from video games, to binge-watching @aantonop presentations, to taking Dan Boneh's cryptography courses.

There were still dark periods during those months. I grappled with visa uncertainties and the aftermath of a traffic accident. I would fall back into my old ways at times. But I always had something constructive to come back to.

By 2017, things had started to look up a lot more. I had found myself a stable day-job teaching English again, and I rarely felt the urge to go clubbing on weekends.

I had been lucky enough in 2016 to set aside an investment in bitcoin which by 2017 allowed me to pay off my remaining debts. I'll never forget that feeling of weight being lifted off my shoulders.

As crypto-mania gripped Korea in 2017, our meetup grew more popular, and I built confidence as we took turns presenting to larger and larger groups of enthusiasts or curious visitors. I began to think maybe I could make a career out of this Bitcoin thing.

The Bitcoin meetup in Seoul, 2017:

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Another turning point came in November 2017. After our meetup garnered a bit of attention for speaking out against the Segwit2x fork, @wtogami paid us a visit since he was in town.

Before he left, I told him that I was planning to quit teaching soon to try to work somewhere in the Bitcoin industry. He responded with something along the lines of "I don't know if we're hiring at the moment, but we can stay in touch."

I was rather embarrassed. I had just been asking if he knew of anywhere else that might take me. I wouldn't have even thought to apply to Blockstream - of course there were far more qualified people than me that they could choose from.

As it turns out, Warren saw more in me than I did - he had been quite serious. Within two months, I was on a flight back to Canada for my final interview. That was January this year.

As the new year approaches, I look back at where I was less than three short years ago, and it's overwhelming.

It's incredible being welcomed and working alongside intimidatingly competent people like @larrybitcoin, @excellion, @selenejin, and many others (you know who you are if you're reading this).

The depression still comes back at times, and startup life can be immensely stressful. Less than a month ago, I came close to fully burning out. But I have a deeper drive these days, and I can pick myself back up faster each time.

My life is so much better in almost every way than any other time in my life, and I'm beyond grateful.

Bitcoin certainly wasn't the only thing that dragged me out of that mess a few years back. The support of my loved ones, psychotherapy, and my own perseverance were huge.

But yes, the bitcoin community and the people I've met along the way have been the kind of thing that make this whole life journey worthwhile.

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