I started out this year unemployed and depressed but was able to turn it around by establishing a healthy work/life balance this year.
I had quit my job in August 2017 and took several months off to take some trips and figure out what I wanted out of my next job. Granted, that job had been better than those previous to it... but I couldn't quite escape my biggest sources of stress and I finally had to quit as I couldn't see a way to resolve it at that company.
As I worked through my depression and felt the helplessness lift off my shoulders, I reflected on how I got to where I was. I had always worked for small companies. A big source of stress for me had been that I would often end up feeling like I had no one to reach out to at work when feeling overwhelmed. I didn't feel like I could bounce ideas off anyone because they just assumed whatever I came up with was right. My pull requests would rarely get feedback -- just approval when devs were pressured by mgmt. To managers, I was the one to always get stuff done and usually quickly -- they knew it and I think I encouraged that idea by never pushing back. This led to me being placed in a lot of high pressure situations that'd keep me up at night.
I mean, it was a bit my fault as I'd always take on whatever came up immediately since deadlines were always tight and I assumed others were busy working on other more important things (the seniors/leads) or not confident enough to take it on (the jrs). This thought that I had dug my own grave made it harder to get out of it as I felt I just needed to push through it.
By December 2017, I decided I needed to prioritize my mental health more in my next position. I would need to be working on a product I'd be passionate about so that I can look forward to contributing to it even when the pressure is on. I would need it to be 100% remote as I am not a fan of small-talk/distractions/disruptions at the office (at least at home I have more control over them) and prefer to avoid the DFW commute. I also look forward to being able work heads down when possible. The front-end team would need to be composed of several experienced engineers that I can continue to learn from and share ideas with. On top of those things, I really wanted to be around other engineers/managers that were passionate both about the project and the tech.
It took a couple months but I found a company that checked off all those boxes. A big healthcare company with thousands of employees. Not really what I expected but definitely hit all boxes for me so I went for it.
- Meaningful project (new web platform for big healthcare company)
- 100% remote
- Big front-end team
- Reusable UI component library w/emphasis on front-end architecture standards
I've been working there since February and am very content. Yes, it can be stressful - big web application being launched soon for millions of users. However, I haven't once felt alone or isolated. I've enjoyed solving the problems and technical challenges throughout the year. I've also been able to make significant contributions like the initial template for our reusable CSS grid layout and the most popular feature: typeahead search. All for the greater cause of modernizing the healthcare experience for everyone - which I find very rewarding.
I think it's good that I can once again quote this and have it be applicable.
My worst day here is better than my best day at all the other places I've worked.
I must be getting better at finding those betters fits, right?
With this job change, I have felt less drained in general which has led to more positive experiences outside of work. I am now able to enjoy things such as playing with my dogs and spending time with my husband and our friends without having some task in the back of my mind (well... most days... still working on this.)
We moved from being about a 7 minute drive from the state capital building in Austin back to a suburb in DFW where we had bought our first house. It's so chill out here and we absolutely love our house. Since I work remotely, having an actual office has been a total game changer for me. I don't know why but I always hated using spare bedrooms as an office. There was this weird mental hurdle that having a closet in the room would cause for me. It bothered me - idk, weird... but made me realize I'd need a real office in our house. Work stuff stays in that room - which is conveniently located in an undisturbed area of the house.
Also, I know I'm super late on this but we finally bought a Roomba which we named DJ Roomba ;) And I can't believe we hadn't gotten one sooner! One less thing I have to worry about around here, for sure. It's been amazing especially now that we have 2 dogs. I am particularly a fan of the scheduling... just knowing that I'll wake up to my office carpet looking clean is so nice!
I've continued to meditate and jog daily to help clear my mind and be able to enjoy the "flow" of things.
I had also made a goal this year to finish books I had started and abandoned at some point -- which I made significant progress in despite adding books to the original post. I am currently reading both Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience and Fear and Loathing On The Campaign Trail '72 -- just depends on my mood.
2018 was a big year for my personal growth and I look forward to sharing some react posts in 2019!