Thursday, May 12, 2022

Letting go - Part 2

So, I started to learn about coffee but that wasn’t the only big change I would be making over the last few months.

I have worked in an agency of some sort for the last 18 years of my career. Mostly as a web developer. There was a short stint in my career where I made really obnoxious radio and television commercials for local car dealers, but we don’t talk about Bruno.

My career as an agency dev has seen a lot of ups and downs. From being the sole developer in a five person agency to running the dev team for an ad agency, I have had to learn how to problem solve and adapt as my employer needed. All of this while dealing with the dreaded and oh so common issue of imposter syndrome.

I can say common now, because once you start talking about dealing with imposter syndrome you realize the vast majority of your colleagues are either dealing with it right now or have dealt with it in the past.

I always took pride in my desire to jump into learning something new and problem solve while being part of a team. As I began to lead a team I felt I had to prove myself every chance I could. I never knew what made me a valuable part of a team would end up becoming my downfall as I led a team. I would immediately jump on every opportunity and every fire that needed to be put out. At the same time, I was running a team of up to seven developers and designers and had my own production work that I was responsible for. I would attempt to keep this up for a little over three years.

At first it was exciting.

I was building things, I was assigning work, I was helping my team work through problems in projects and figure out how to work with each other better. But after a while that excitement turned into exhaustion. At the end of every project I was on I would tell myself “I am going to be able to catch my breath as soon as this goes live” or “this is the last project I am going work like this”, but at the end every project I felt like the Terminator at the end of T2 right after defeating the T-1000.

John looks at him with an arm missing and face nearly blown off he simply states “I need a vacation.”

Months would pass and I would find myself in the same cycle. I would wake up, start working, stop for dinner, fall asleep on the couch for a bit and then work again until about midnight. Not only did this start to effect the quality of work I was doing but worse I was not a participating member of my family. I wasn’t being a good husband or father and I barely had any time/bandwidth for friends. I knew this had to stop but I couldn’t.

That vacation never came. I would finish a project and there would be something new for me to hop on. I couldn’t find a way to say no. I felt like I had to keep going at this unrealistic pace.

Then it started to manifest physically. My brain was constantly fuzzy and I was easily distracted. I started to knock things over (out of character for me) and I even once crushed a raw egg in my bare hand on accident. I stood there with the yolk running down my hand frozen in disbelief looking at my wife saying “I don’t know what to do, I need help”.

My work had long been a topic of conversation with my therapist and we were working on a way to help break these workaholic habits I had developed. But after all this it was time to make a drastic change.

I had to let go, let go of work.

My wife and I prayed about it and after many discussions the decision was made. It was time for me to step away from my career. From what I had made the central focus of my personal identity.

I resigned from my position on April 1st, probably not the best date, but it was time. The project I was working on was coming to an end and I needed to step out of this cycle before another project convinced me to keep going.

I loved my team and miss chatting with them on a daily basis, but it was time I took care of myself. It was time to put my health and family first.

I am not sure what comes next, but i know if I didn’t do something drastic I would find another job and find myself in the exact same cycle of workaholism. So, I am taking a couple of weeks to catch my breath, take my family on a trip and clear my head. It honestly feels like I am kind of detoxing and working through withdrawals, but I can honestly say for the first time in a long time I am really excited about what the future holds for me.