For the past two weeks I have been working from home because of instructions from the government in response to COVID-19. The timing isn't super great, but to be fair the timing probably isn't great for anyone.
During my time at home my 'work life' and my private life slowly merged into one, even though I came up with a schedule in an attempt to prevent this exact thing from happening. Another rule was to make sure that the weekends would be off limits for anything work related, unlike usual. That didn't happen yet. This conflict is not necessarily new, but now that I'm stuck in my bedroom for most of the time it has become a lot more visible.
It's just really hard to sit still because there are a lot of things I could do instead. Extending my portfolio, continue my OSSU journey, finally start leetcoding or finally building one of those ideas I had in mind. I don't believe there is anything wrong with doing any of this next to work. However, it does become a problem when you 'have' to do them and can't stop. The very obvious thing to do in a situation like this is slowing down.
I have tied a very big portion of my identity to working hard and achieving things. Not on purpose but because others seem to value that as well. I 'work hard', 'always try to get the best out of myself' and 'am always doing something and headed somewhere'. And those little dopamine hits feel great but at the same time I feel like I'm approaching either depression or burn-out. No matter what I do it has to be useful in some way or I should not have been thinking about it in the first place.
If someone asks me where I'm going, I have to at least know where I'm headed. If I join a team, I better put in as many hours as I can. I'm still in school and very junior. There is a lot to learn and there is no alternative to putting in actual work if I want to get better. I don't have a popular open source project yet. I haven't even made a pull request on projects that inspire me. I'm not doing great, I'm lying to myself and believe the statements of people who mindlessly put on their rose colored glasses. There are still a ton of side projects on the shelf. I have potential but that is literally all that I've got. I have to work, I have to work, I have to work.
If I try to sit still those thoughts become louder and louder until I give in and start working again. Why would I do otherwise? If I don't work, why am I here? Who would care about me? What's the point?
Last year I reached out to my class' supervisor to explain that I really didn't feel like being here anymore. It wasn't the first time thoughts like these have crossed my mind and I had received help from a kids psychologist back in high school. Of course my supervisor wasn't allowed to deal with these things and about two weeks later I had to sit down with my college's psychologist. Luckily, I don't have to worry about anything because according to him I'm doing great. I have a strong personality, excellent grades and could express myself clearly during the conversation. The best thing I could do was read a book by Carl Gustav Jung and make another appointment if I still felt the need to get rid of myself. That was the first and last time I spoke to him.
I'm not going to lie, I haven't read a single word of any of Jung's books and maybe I should have. Instead, I spend some time on YouTube watching video's from random people with their take on hustle culture and ambitious minimalists who take it easy.
I feel stuck and lonely at times but whenever I read posts by overwhelmed beginners on Reddit or Dev I just wonder how normal this is in developer land. Do you grow out of this as a senior? I'd love to know how to stop looping between 'hustle' and 'trying to slow down'. Until then, I'm probably working on something and headed somewhere.