Several years ago, I decided to quit freelancing and do a day job. The job would pay much less but I was struggling with mental health (ADHD). On my therapist's suggestion, I decided to give the job thing a try. It worked wonderfully, my struggles with discipline are a thing of past. Or so I believe.
Once again, I have decided to take a drastic step. I have decided to quit my day job. This is my last week at work, coming Monday I will be unemployed.
I don't have a plan. I haven't planned to leave work permanently. I don't have an ambition either, world changing or otherwise. This post is me deciding to take a break from work and finding reasons for doing so, after the fact.
It is exciting. The possibilities are endless. It is scary. Endless possibilities means a lot of them lead to failure. Odds are stacked in my favor in some regards; I am good at what I do, world will still need good software engineers 6 months down the road. They are not so much in my favor in some regards; precedence says I will fall into inaction and misery, and achieve nothing. Complete nothing. I've almost always lost in my struggles with ADHD in past. There is a good chance that I am deluding myself into believing that this time will be any different.
I am curios of whether it is me who has finally tamed the beast, or if I am going to need the structure a formal job as crutches.
I am sort of exhausted from making pragmatic decisions all the time. Building software needs a delicate balance between what makes your software technically good, and what makes it actually good. Actually good software solve problems despite its own imperfections.
I want to spend some time making impractical decisions. I want to build software which solve the problem of making me happy, or at least entertained.
I joined my last company because I was sold on an idea. An idea of a project which was solving a meaningful problem, and was challenging enough to keep me engaged. I dedicated myself to that, gladly making many sacrifices in my personal life. I got to build a team and lead it with autonomy, we built a stolid product (actually, a part of it). And then I was taken off that project, with what felt like without warning. I accepted that decision because it was practical for the company.
But I was unprepared for the aftershock. It was traumatizing. With a snap I was plucked out of one project, and added into another with the expectation of establishing myself into a similar critical role. The fact that I did it without a break didn't help. I could no longer find that sense of belonging anymore, in this new project, or others that came after.
Perhaps I am not suited for working in a services company with rapid transitions. Perhaps I set my expectations wrong. Perhaps there was a lapse in communication. Perhaps, I need to spend some time grieving. Regardless, I need a break.
As good a workplace as Trantor has been, I've been feeling stagnated for a while. I have learned a lot outside of work, but work has started to feel like work, which makes me miserable. Overlap between things I want to learn and things which my job needs have been steadily and increasingly decreasing.
Many of the things I want to learn need dedication which I can't afford while working full-time as a software engineer. There is no off-switch, I am always working; even when I am not sitting in front of a computer. Things I want to learn need me 100% there.
What lies ahead?
I don't know. There are too many things. There is a very good chance that I am going to freeze in the face of choice, be miserable for a few weeks, and get back to doing a day job. I am going to take time off for as long as I feel like it, or run out of money. During this time I will try to learn things and build software that bring me joy. Try to teach myself how to focus more on the journey.
I've observed that many activities (including building software) can be a meditative experience. If you can let go of the goals, you can quite enjoy the act. Counter intuitively, the result is often much better. But it is not always on time, which makes this a dangerous thing to do when someone else is paying for my work. Perhaps the last bit is because I am not yet well versed in it. This too might be a matter of finding a balance. I'll explore.