X-Outpost: Kyoto

X-Outpost: Kyoto image

The X-Outposts are an integral part of our community. Organized a few times a year, they are opportunities for X-Teamers to meet in a beautiful location so they can get to know each other, work together, and create memorable adventures. In May 2024, over eighty X-Teamers and their partners traveled to Kyoto, Japan. It was our biggest X-Outpost ever. This is how Ben Cessa, one of X-Team's Senior Full-Stack Engineers, experienced it.

I recently had the amazing opportunity to join some of my colleagues on a trip to the land of the rising sun: Japan. More specifically, the Kyoto X-Outpost. As I was writing the first draft of this blog post, I realized I had two choices.

I could either write about the incredible beauty of Japan, its rich culture, its stunning landscapes, and the kindness of its people. I could write about the delicious food that teaches you the meaning of umami, the awe-inspiring ancient temples, or the tranquility you find in its Zen gardens.

Or I could write about the greatest pandemic of the century.

Is This About COVID?

No, I'm not talking about COVID. I'm talking about loneliness. Yes, according to the WHO, loneliness is the greatest pandemic of this century and one of the most serious health crises we are facing right now. In the WHO's words:

Social isolation and loneliness are widespread, with an estimated 1 in 4 older people experiencing social isolation and between 5 and 15 percent of adolescents experiencing loneliness. A large body of research shows that social isolation and loneliness have a serious impact on physical and mental health, quality of life, and longevity. The effect of social isolation and loneliness on mortality is comparable to that of other well-established risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

I'm bringing up loneliness because it's very easy to feel lonely as a remote, freelance software engineer. The cure for loneliness is high-quality social connections. And that's what made this X-Outpost so special. It's what makes X-Team so special. You become part of a close-knit community.

We'd Never Met Before

All of us are familiar with the traditionally recommended path of life: Study hard to get a degree, find a 9-to-5 job, and do whatever it takes to keep the job. If you're lucky, you may have the occasional day off here and there. Or an easy commute to the office.

It's why we talk about work-life balance. Because we want to spend less time at work and more time to actually live our lives.

But what if there's a different model? Something deeper, more meaningful, more sustainable? What if we flip the script entirely and use work not as a means to an end but as a conduit for experiencing more of life?

That's the script X-Team follows. It combines work, personal growth, play, and community to create enriching and fulfilling experiences like the one I had in Japan.

You see, the office used to be where people created their social connections. But it's not because you see someone frequently that you'll create a good relationship with them. Other important factors to build high-quality social connections include empathy, respect, and common ground.

X-Teamers have that in spades for each other. For example, I've been working with a great X-Teamer called Arthur for a couple of years now. We spent hours together in meetings solving problems. We've also discussed our hobbies, families, previous job experiences, and pretty much anything you can think of. I consider him a good friend.

And yet I'd never met him in person.

Until Kyoto.

The friendship we'd created digitally translated perfectly to friendship in person. That's why this X-Outpost was so special for me. My partner and I met a group of like-minded people who I had never met in person, but who I instantly resonated with.

A Fulfilling Life

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that roughly translates to a sense of purpose in life or "a reason to get up in the morning." It's about doing what you love, about accumulating small joys and taking small actions that lead to a fulfilling life.

Because X-Team has flipped the script, it gives an engineer like me the freedom to create more ikigai into my life. I cannot be more grateful to have been given the opportunity.


X-Team / x-outpost