|There have been a lot of struggling anonymous posters asking for help lately. As I join those ranks, I hope that I am not straining the community's patience too much.|
I'm not burnt out. But, from my vantage point, my problem--whatever it may be--is no less dangerous or frustrating.
Please bear with me as I try to describe what is wrong with me; it seems that clarity slips away more quickly to the extent that I grasp at it.
The problem is one of dissonance and stagnation.
I live an amazing, beautiful, privileged life, but I am unhappy, and my increasingly desperate flailing has not changed a thing. After graduating college at 22, I was hired by a Fortune 500 company as a developer, with a $60,000/year paycheck. I had high hopes for the next few years: Getting in shape, paying off student loans, and programming on the side to finally implement some of the many ideas (both technical and business) that I have collected over the years.
Now, three years later at 25, none of those things have changed. I poured much of my energy into a relationship that I ended near the beginning of the year, but even without that on my mind, I simply cannot seem to overcome inertia. I am still overweight; the fantasy of being debt-free is still a distant mirage, and I am still making the exact dollar amount as when I started; my ideas have languished, tinkered with at best, and utterly ignored at worst. In three years, I have learned a lot about myself, and about how to survive in a corporate job, but the goals I set out as a fresh college graduate have been brutally neglected.
The symptoms are all things you have heard before: I am often melancholy, having struggled with depression for most of my life. Focus is rare; I was recently diagnosed as having ADHD by a psychiatrist, who I saw at the urging of my therapist, despite my staunch refusal to acknowledge it as a real disease. I don't Get Enough Done, and I have to work extremely hard to avoid browbeating myself about every little failure, whether it is a failure of productivity or nutrition.
It's not enough for me to just exist. I feel a deep desire to build, to create, to learn, to teach, and as the weeks and months drag by with no discernible progress made on many of these fronts, my agitation grows.
I've tried many things. Therapy helped a little, but it's been over a half a year and it doesn't seem to have changed much. Prescription psychotropics, of which I have tried only two, had no effect. I picked up martial arts to get some physical activity, and while I am in marginally better shape, it has not "solved" anything. I do my best to eat better, but it's as easy to lose focus on planning my meals and learning to cook as it is to lose focus on coding my latest idea.
I have a difficult time relating attempted solutions because I'm still not sure what the problem is. I am not always sad. I am not always unproductive. I still talk and laugh with coworkers at lunch. I still see movies with friends. Once every couple of weeks, I'll have a few hours or maybe even an entire night where I crank out some code. I've learned to just barely squeeze by at work, excelling enough to win the approval of my peers and superiors. But, I know that I'm not even approaching my full potential. Sometimes I spend entire 8-hour days browsing the internet instead of working, even as I consciously berate myself for slacking off, or procrastinating, or whatever it is that I'm doing.
Sometimes I feel deeply ashamed when I read stories on HN, because there are stories of people who achieved absolutely incredible things in the face of adversity: People who created businesses while destitute; people who built families and careers simultaneously; people who got things done even when they didn't feel like it. Even when life got in the way.
Meanwhile; I'm an intelligent, healthy, gainfully employed bachelor, completely in control of his life, and I can't even put together the simplest of my hundreds of ideas in 3 years. 3 years, and I couldn't lose a couple of pounds. Life has been so good to me--I should be leaping out of bed with a giant grin on my face every single morning. And yet, I mope. And yet, I procrastinate.
It's as if I understand all of this in my head, but don't really believe it in my heart, and have no idea how to convince myself otherwise--as if the wrong "me" is in control 90% of the time. It doesn't feel right that so many things are such an uphill battle, and I don't understand why I'm squandering the incredible opportunities afforded by each day. I'm ashamed at how little gratitude I seem to have for my situation. My early twenties are over, and I haven't really done anything. The idea of looking back when I'm 30 and having these same thoughts makes me literally shake with terror.
What am I doing wrong?