4/5/2022: Diary of a Burnout, Part I
So, this could easily be a chapter in a memoir if I ever decided to write one. I don’t know how long this will go on, but it will definitely be at least two parts.
I started off writing the beginning of what would be a sci-fi short, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. Why? Because it was kind of shitty and meandering, and I’m in a mood. Fuck you, it’s my website and I can publish what I want when I want! Anyway, back to my mood.
The pandemic aside, the past 6 months have been difficult workwise for me. After contemplating it for several months, I decided to leave my previous job where I’d worked for over 5 years. I took two weeks off and started a new job, but I remain… numb.
I don’t feel angry or bitter or sad or happy or excited. All I feel is numb. I take antidepressants and continue to take them. This isn’t typically how I react to them, so I don’t think it’s related to that. I think I’m just burnt out and two weeks off wasn’t nearly enough time. Not just burnt out on a particular job but possibly burnt out on my career.
I used to love video games as a kid. They were my escape from the world. I played them a lot and many different kinds. As I grew older, I thought I wanted to make games. I knew you needed to know how to program to make games, so I played around with it a little bit at home and didn’t get far since the barrier to entry was too high and the tools available at the time weren’t great. I took C++ in high school and discovered I could code and helped the students who sat nearby frequently with their assignments once I’d finished mine. Naturally, it made sense to study Computer Science when I went to college. That’s where I might have caught a glimpse of the trap I was laying out for myself.
My first two years at NMU were fine academically. My personal life was basically a train wreck, but academically I was still doing well. Then I turned 21 and started drinking, a lot. I usually went to classes but had trouble forcing myself to do my programming assignments. For my other classes, I could still manage to do my homework. I could still take and pass tests in my CS classes that had tests. I just didn’t want to program.
Things came to a head after I completed what was supposed to be my senior year and still didn’t have enough credits to finish my degree. I took summer classes to get the two CS classes I needed to complete my degree; still didn’t program much; still didn’t pass.
After that summer, I owed the university a couple of grand for the two classes I didn’t actually have the money for and still failed. I couldn’t enroll in classes for the fall, and I didn’t have a plan. My mother was fed up with me by this point and I went to live with my brother and sister-in-law and worked in a factory. The factory is where I learned there were worse things than programming.
After nearly a year of working in a factory, and with financial help from my mother since I still didn’t have my shit together, I paid back the university and enrolled in classes again. A single semester to complete a degree more than 5 years in the making. I programmed, didn’t hate it as much as I feared I would, and passed.
After finally completing my degree, I got my first “real” job within a couple of months and began programming for a living. I still wanted to make video games, but because I had a child I didn’t want to completely abandon, I stayed in Michigan, where there were, I thought, no game companies. After about a year, I learned that there actually was, and it was practically down the road from where I lived.
To be continued…
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