Since there are varying degrees of burnout and how some people go through burnout, I'll start by warning you all that I cannot think about burnout without thinking about the best racing game series of all time Burnout. Now that is out the way I will describe my recent burnout.
I had gotten to the point where I was very comfortable building React applications. After some years with the library I had moved over to their newer hooks API, messed with some server rendering, tried out some frameworks that use React like Next.js and Gatsby (I've opted more towards Gatsby and built some projects with it), and finally, after avoiding it for so long I looked into Redux for global state management.
After juggling all these extra things on top and busting out a few side projects to have as some portfolio pieces and moving into a new job, I felt pretty burnt out. I allowed myself to turn off outside of work and just relax with my family and play video games, which were all good ways to spend my off time! Unfortunately, during this time whenever I felt like jumping into learning something or starting a new side project to level up, I ended up with 5 barely started ideas, with no plan or vision and found myself frustrated every time I attempted to learn new skills or sharpen existing skills.
I was still able to function well at work as things ramped up, but I was very aware that I was missing some enthusiasm for expanding my knowledge, while also being very aware of all the things around me that I could be learning.
This continued for maybe a month and a half long and I was even starting to question my adequacy as a developer and my abilities to learn. This didn't help as I also tend to get a little imposter syndrome when I start a new job. At this point I'm thinking maybe I should try learning something completely different like C++, Rust, Go or maybe try and hop into hobby Game development. This lead to me bouncing back even harder than before, leaving me frustrated after wasting an evening away or retreating to play some video games.
I decided to take a seat back, I knew of a little something called Dev.to and that people like to write stuff on it, so I made an account and decided to check in on articles from time to time. I eventually decided to start writing rough ramblings about my experience I had leading and building a large web application I had no business doing and it felt far more passive and relaxing; zero frustration. I kept this up and eventually I formatted it into a way that was readable and decided to publish my first article!
When I published my first article, I assumed maybe like 5 people would click on it and skim through it. There are so many valuable articles to read so what are the chances mine will be read, maybe I wrote a bad article anyway.
Instead, while it didn't blow up, relative to my expectations it did. Over a weekend I was met with email notifications of reactions and comments, every comment I read was nice and productive. With such positive feedback and a small following, I felt that my mind opened up to other topics I could write about, and this is where things started to open back up for me.
The more topics I thought about writing lead to me thinking more critically about how well do I know things that I do comfortably and where my gaps are. I started to research more into these areas, applying this better understanding into drafted posts that I hope to also publish eventually.
While going through all this research, I felt that enthusiasm come back into learning and it felt great. I enjoyed my time a lot with Gatsby and with their theme workflows being in production, I was able to jump into a new side project with enough steam behind it to hopefully make it through.
I now feel very excited about all the open paths I have in front of me to continue leveling up as a developer. I even stopped for a moment to set up goals for myself for the rest of 2019. If I can complete a small amount of those goals before the end of the year I'll be happy.
I have to give a big shoutout to the dev.to community for being so great and to the contributors of dev.to for building a platform where new member's posts are not drowned in the content and remain visible.
If you're comfortable to talk about it what experiences have you had with burnout? and what helped you come out the other end? are you still having issues with burnout? Let me know in the comments or message me privately and I'll be happy to talk about it with you!
I'm also on Twitter if you want to follow me or chat on there. I sometimes post things there!