Burning out and refueling

September 25, 2015
travel
personal

At agencies, especially with big clients, you get used to mostly working during the clients' business hours + not taking work home with you. You can get spoiled by the work/life balance. Well, that has been my experience with agencies. However, at some point, I decided I really wanted to focus on a single product which is when I searched for a startup that was building a product.

55+hrs/week? sure.

I decided to take a leap back in March 2014, I applied for a frontend developer position for a local startup that had already raised a decent amount of an investment. The new hire would be the first dedicated frontend developer for the redesigned/rebuilt platform. You kind of get sucked into the product and environment. Being a team player and putting in the extra hours seems inevitable, honestly. Getting a phone call at 7am to update the logo before you leave your house to head to the office? No big deal, it's for the sake of the team, right?

Don't get me wrong -- I loved it. Diving deeper into coding and learning more about all aspects of building web applications becomes an addiction. However, what I hadn't realized is that with it comes this thing called burning out. One day you just kind of start to fill worn out mentally. You wonder if you're really getting any better. Self-doubt settles in. Looking over the same batch of code for a year and a half. Building new features and fixing old hacky code is just your norm.

ok. nevermind.

For the past 2 months, I've looked back on that time. Yes, it was fun. For that year in a half, my learning/self-improvement was on a fast-track. It just wears you down -- especially when you only take two incredibly short vacations. Accumulating 320 hours of vacation and not making a dent into it is ridiculous. Why didn't I use it up? Well, there was always *something* due -- I couldn't find the right time to get away, really. Or at least that's what I told myself. It was self-inflicted the first year and going into my second year, I felt the pressure to push through for the sake of the product. So, last week, I saw an opportunity.


It's as if I refilled my tank of passion for code.

For the first time, I felt I had time. To make the situation even better, my boyfriend did too. We quickly jumped onto Roadtrippers and researched a few places we wanted to see and packed our bags. We headed west with the ultimate destination being the Grand Canyon - a beautiful place neither of us had visited and desired to visit prior to either of us graduating college. We camped in Albuquerque, New Mexico and at the Grand Canyon in Arizona. Those five days were the first days in the past two years that I cleared my mind of code.

I observed and explored the nature around me. Any internet access was mostly sharing an image on instagram, though. A few emails here and there. It feels good to have taken a break - as if I cleared a slate. Once I arrived home, I thought about how I felt and reflected on the opportunity to focus on things outside of code I enjoy doing. Returning to my terminal and my code editor feels nice and refreshing.