i don't think that i'm having a burnout but i think that i'm maybe not so far away from it... several people, including friends, my therapist and also a colleague, told me they see me at risk of sliding into a real burnout.

i've known this for longer that i have a crappy work life balance. the habit of making work the most important part of my own life. thinking about work even in my private time, when i fall asleep, when i wake up in the night or in the morning. the tendency to think about problems, plans, coworkers, not being able to quit work mentally. the idea that i have to prove to everybody at work that i'm awesome. the feeling that, after a work day, i'm just "waiting" at home for the next day, in idle mode, so i can continue working on a problem (like a bug) that's occupying my whole mind. and at the same time, feeling totally empty after work, having no energy. i've lost interest and quit several hobbies in the last two years that once were important for me. and i think one important reason is that i didn't have any mental energy left to deal with that.

another factor for this development was also the pandemic for sure, because for some time, i had no real social life except for that at work.
but more important is probably that i find my job most of the time really fun and am highly motivated. i have the tendency to say yes to everything and to really commit to and own the problems that are handed to me. (right now, however i feel like there's not much motivation left)
then again there is the feeling that what i do is never good enough, i have little self confidence in my own abilities as a software engineer. there's a big discrepancy between how i myself perceive my work and how other people do (not only at work). on a rational level, i know that what i do is at least "good enough", otherwise i wouldn't have this job, and i wouldn't receive this amount of positive feedback from people. but it's hard to really deeply understand this thing, when there are deep-rooted beliefs like "only perfect is good enough" or "your colleagues will be disappointed and get a negative idea of you (and something bad will happen), if you don't give your best"... and there's also this idea that i have to be this super nerdy person who also codes in their free time, reads IT magazines and stuff, because only then i will fit this stereotype of a software developer, and only then i can be taken seriously and be good enough. no matter if this is fun for me or not.

anyway, right now i'm at a point in life where i'm realizing all this not only rationally, but with full emotional impact... :/ my life feels like it's gone stale and empty. i've lost creativity, warmth and human connection and that hurts a lot.

i'm trying to change my life.
one thing that really helps me right now is to talk with people who have (made) similar experiences. can you relate? if yes, how do / did you address those problems? i would really appreciate to hear your stories...

  • 1
    You don't need to fit into the "software developer" stereotype to be respected. Hell, you've already proven yourself with everything you've done all this time. Your whole self is 100% more than that. I can't relate to your experiences, as I'm just someone who's learning web development and hasn't found a job on the field, nor I've lived long (just 18), but I can guarantee you that what makes one respectable is their personality and not their job. Maybe stop doing extra work, stop overthinking about any bug after work, and recognize work/job as your way of getting money - not your self. The respect someone else gives you is not an identifier of your worth, nor an indicator that you're doing good. I recommend you to read about stoicism, and/or "Ego is The Enemy" by Ryan Holiday. Didn't read it completely but I think it could do you good. I wish you the best.
  • 4
    Maybe the job you're in is just too interesting. I used to take what happened at work to home with me, but after suffering a bit of burnout I just haven't been that excited any more.
  • 2
    A lot of what you’re saying here resonates with me. No so much the part about proving that I’m a geek and working on side projects at home (because I’m clearly not your definition of a geek), but more the part about being so absorbed with work that nothing else matters much.
    What @Electrineer says is very true. Work can be so interesting in that you’re always up to tackling the new challenges it has to offer and you’re left with little energy for anything else. Interestingly for me, there are times when we’re put to work on very monotonous tasks. That’s when I’m the most bored at work; yet it’s during those periods that I sleep best, that I’m up to doing a bunch of stuff after work such as, working out, SOCIALIZING and things of the sort.
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    Yeah, pandemic really fucked up the balance. There's almost nothing left except working at home.
  • 0
    I salute your dedication and hard work. I would suggest that your identity and worth are very vulnerable if work and other peoples praise are your main source. People isn't very good at caring for others in the long run - even marriages breaks all the time... :/ But there is one good and stable source out there that gives both identity and worth. I think you'll find it if you look for it :)
  • 1
    Sounds like you are approaching burnout. I’ve been there. My suggestion is to try and pick up and do activities that take you outside. For myself I got into long distance running and scuba diving both of which require a lot of time commitment in the outdoors which is what you need.
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