Don’t suffer in silence. It’s time to fight the demons.
It never rains, but it pours
All opinions expressed here are just my experiences and are not dished out in a manual or book, nor should you take them as gospel.
I usually like to post about more technical topics. Sometimes, though, there is much more to life than just code and development. We sometimes forget that as humans we all are prone to challenges and tough times. With the push to AI, smart devices and gadgets constantly keeping us up at night, we think less about the good things that we do and judging our life by the things we feel we are missing out on.
Over the last 8 months, I have been working in a close knit and awesome team; but more and more frequently I have been feeling less satisfied as the weeks go on, with nothing really causing me to feel this way. At first, I thought ‘Maybe the project is not interesting’ or ‘Maybe the technology is not what I want to be doing’.
After much soul searching, I came to the following conclusion for myself: Not all of us fit the ‘nerd’ stereotype, in the sense of living in a basement and getting sunburned as soon as we see daylight. Some of us are not as introverted as many would assume the typical software engineer to be.
This comes to the main point — the reason I was feeling this way was because I felt “alone”.
You can feel lonely despite being in a team.
The issue was isolation. In this role I have been acting as a gatekeeper for the integration between two systems, and gradually losing my sense of belonging by being stretched to the point of feeling that I was adding little value to the team.
Some common causes
This can be caused by the pressure of having to deliver quickly and the expectation of instant solutions to complex problems, which often leads to developers being forced to drop their usual standards. For some developers, it can be damaging to their sense of purpose.
Saying ‘yes’ to too many things and not having enough time and resources seems to be another common reason, as is feeling not appreciated in your role.
Some developers feel pressured into constantly learning that “shiny new library”. Some of us want to master something, and as we get there, the goalposts move — causing frustration.
Why did it take so long to get help?
Sometimes these things evolve. It can take time to process and understand what is going on. But from my experience, the best thing you can do is try to be honest with yourself. Over the months, I had also noticed that I had become a ‘yes man’, trying to please everyone. It turns out you cannot please everyone, so learn to say ‘no’ to things that you cannot physically do.
Some survival tips
1. Talk about it with someone
2. Be honest with yourself: today is a new opportunity, leave yesterday’s worries behind.
3. Take a break with the team
4. Take some time to think about others who may felt the same and ask them about how they feel — it may give you an insight into things that you may overlook
5. Don’t be scared to delegate things; you are one person
6. Rather than accept the status quo, take time to challenge it and share your opinion(s)
7. Eat well, rest well and stay active (running helped me)
8. Find a hobby (mine was woodworking and gardening)
Finally, let me leave you with a phrase that I hope puts things into perspective:
Just because you are suffering, it doesn’t mean you are failing.