I don't really have a title for this. I'm more writing this to process my thoughts about this piece on millennial burnout because it hit so close to home I just cried on a train surrounded by strangers. If you haven't read it do. I don't have answers. I don't really know what to do or say. I just felt compelled to present some small snapshots of my life that immediately crystallized as I read this.
Trigger Warning: Drugs, depression, suicide, swearing, abusive relationship
I'm in the final part of my second year of college. It's finals. I'm tired. And I've just realized I don't want to do Biomedical Engineering anymore. I've just come to the conclusion I plan on burning down two years of work and start anew doing god knows what. Computers? Maybe. There's no more money it all got spent on this expensive college I decided to go to. I guess I'll now have to go to a state school, because you can't NOT go to college.
The next week I have a huge panic attack talking to my mom because I can't fail finals or else it'll look bad if I try to transfer because I need to present myself as someone who is smart and knows things, or else I can't get a degree to get a job.
I'm in a new college now. I'm in the depths of a spell of depression I have yet to reach since. New college, it's a commuter one so I've made no friends, none of my high school friends are in my hometown of Boston, and I'm tired all the time with a workload of CS classes that I have to pass or my transition to a new school would be a mistake.
I'm self medicating with Marijuana so that I'm actually hungry enough to eat anything and stay alive because a stubborn part of my brain refuses to let me kill myself because I need to succeed and I can't let my parents down who have been supportive of me, let me move back, and who I had blown all their savings for my college for on one school in two years.
It gets really bad, to the point where I am a literal void. I am not a person. I am a husk that keeps marching from task to task because these must be completed. I can't let people down because if I do I have betrayed them and I will have no worth as a human. One who has not produced value for society.
My dad attempts to talk to me and say positive things about me, but I literally can't understand how someone can see worth in me. He responds: "I hope you can see yourself one day the way others see you." It's been 6 years and I still can't. I go to therapy shortly thereafter.
I joined the National Guard that summer so I could pay for school because I had no idea how I would do it otherwise. A month in and I've begun to see the magnitude of my decision constantly berated by Drill Sergeants for the past few months, working with people I literally hope to never see again for the rest of my life. I'm burnt out and fed up and cynical again. I can't do anything though cause I have to pay for college.
One day I absolutely fucking lose my god damn mind yelling and screaming and cussing at my platoon mates who's apathy I can't handle anymore. I wasn't looked at in a favorable light for the last month or so. I hide in the corner until it's time to do the next task, no hint I had lost it, our Drill Sergeants none the wiser
My girlfriend of barely two months breaks up with me. In hindsight it was a really just emotionally abusive relationship (towards me, but also I wasn't the best boyfriend either). I've become so used to not dating someone or only having flings that trying to create and establish a connection with someone that requires work is hard. She was convenient because I didn't have to do the effort to go out and meet someone. It's been 4 years and I've been on one disastrous first date since. I'll find time to date eventually I say. I just need to get my life in order first so that this doesn't happen again. If my career is stable then I'll be stable enough to be with someone.
In an effort to graduate as close to on time as I can to be not far behind my peers (those who were my age graduating this year so I was still behind), I take a 5 course course load over two days only Tue/Thu and am on campus from 8 am to 10pm. I work 8 hour days Mon, Wed, and Fri at a startup part time for 20 dollars an hour, more than I had made before in my life. Some weekends are all gone cause of National Guard work. I am also doing a security competition with a professor and doing some work with him so I can pay for the semester. I had failed my Physical Fitness test for the army so I lost the benefits until I could pass again. This means I had to pay for college. I get burnt out, my grades suffer, my part time work suffers, I end up hating programming for a bit. I barely touch code until Septemberish. GitHub has permanently recorded the scars. I rarely like to look at my contribution graphs because of the shame that I couldn't handle it.
I'm hanging with Rustaceans after Rust Fest Paris. In particular I'm talking with Ashley Williams and Steve Klabnik. "You're really ambitious you know that?" Ashley says to me. I'm shocked. I'm not ambitious. I just work. Seeing the disdain on my face for the word she continues, "You do a lot more than what most people would." I respond: "Isn't this what people do to have a spot in any community? It's just work not ambition." "No it's not normal", they say.
I still think about that to this day.
I quit my job at the startup. I had transitioned the year before to a full time role. I did it because it was safe, because 80k was more than I had ever made and I didn't realize I was being undersold for my labor. I leave cause I realize it was yet another abusive relationship, I could barely write code, and the work place is so toxic walking to work feels like injecting poison into my soul. I got depressed on Sundays because I had to go to work on Monday. I don't get much work done during my last two weeks. My boss yells at me. I can barely give a shit at this point.
I finally have a stable job, that I am paid what I'm worth, and work with a great group of people on tech I love. I have everything I could want, but it's not enough because I've already moved onto the next task. I've been joking my brain is anxious cause nothing is on fire and my whole life since middle school has been on fire.
I read a post about how we're a burnt out generation and I cry in front of strangers on a train.
I write this blog post.