Lesson Learned: Massive Burnout In Learning Web Development

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Hello Fellow Codenewbies 👋,

You read an article or a Tweet on how someone becomes successful. That person's journey then becomes a motivation for you.

If they can do it, I can do it too!

Nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's a good thing. Motivation is one of the factors that keep us going.

But one thing that we often forget, most of those successful stories also come with struggles.
And we tend to focus on the after stories and not the struggles.

Some people avoid sharing their struggles and they have their own reason to do that.
But we all know that there is no rainbow without rain. There is no going up without being at the bottom at one point.

This post would be different than my other posts. I honestly hesitated to write, let alone publish, this article. But I decided, I will share my recent experience as a self-note and reminder for myself. Also, as a lesson for you to acknowledge when to take some breaks.

Massive burnout

I've been through a massive burnout not long ago.
I'm saying massive because it almost made me want to quit my learning journey.
Does it surprise you? Well, it did surprise me for sure.
All those years that I put into learning could've been gone in one day. Just like that.

I've experienced burnouts before. But with some days of break (or procrastination), I usually will start fresh.
This time it was different. Taking a break didn't make me feel better.
It started with me having hard times understanding some concepts. Then I forgot many things; things that I've learned and done quite a lot before.
I had imposter syndrome, a panic attack, and got so frustrated that lead me to think of quitting.

What caused the massive burnout?

It was a smooth start for me at beginning of framework learning. So I forgot completely that this journey is a marathon, not a sprint. I was rushing things. I wanted to add more and more to learn until I got stuck in one point.

I noticed that I started to get frustrated. But instead of taking a proper break, I pushed through because I didn't want to lose the momentum. I asked questions, I even got some mentoring from some friends. I got some light after the mentoring sessions, but the next day, I got confused again. And I was too embarrassed in asking for more help, especially because I wanted to ask for help on the same topic.

At the same time, many people that I know got a new job. I'm super happy for them, but I also felt that I'm still far way behind. And that was also one of the reasons I wanted to rush things.

Bottom line:

  • Rushing myself in learning things.
  • Ignoring the signs of burnout.
  • Not taking a proper break.
  • Not sharing my struggles.
  • Comparing myself to other people.

those are the things that lead me to massive burnout.

How to survive a massive burnout?

This would be different for each person, but here what I did:

1. Read the signs and take a step back

I did notice the sign of frustration, but I kept pushing through because I didn't want to lose the momentum.
Instead of being in the momentum, it pushed me away even further.

When you read the sign of frustration or burnout, take a step back. You won't lose your momentum. You're recharging yourself to go further with more energy. Whatever you do, it won't go anywhere, waiting for you to come back.

Though it was a bit late, I finally took a step back and took a break.

2. Take a break

What I emphasize here is not to feel guilty when you decided to take a break. Let your mind off from your learning, your work, and be present. Have fun!

My mistake was, when I took a break, I felt so guilty for having a day or more off from learning. I did things that suppose to make me feel better, but my mind kept telling me, "Why can't I understand it? Why am I doing this while I should learn and try harder?"

I got much better after took one week off from learning without feeling guilty at all.

Taking a real break from whatever you do is essential for your mental health.

3. Share the struggle

I finally shared my struggle with some friends. To my surprise, I wasn't the only one who got frustrated in not understanding what I'm learning.
After doing that, I felt the big burden lifted from my shoulders and I got my motivation back.

Struggling is not a sign of weakness or being defeated. It's one of the learning processes that many people are experiencing as well at one point in their journey.

Don't feel embarrassed. Do share your struggles.
People around you could give support only if you tell them what's going on. And a bonus to that, you could get back your motivation.

4. Change the mindset

After I shared my struggles, one of my friends told me this.

Change your mindset from learning or doing to experimenting.

When you learn something and you don't get it, you could get frustrated and stressed. Or when you do a project, and you get stuck, you could encounter the imposter syndrome.
But with the mindset of experimenting, what you need to do is to try until you understand. Until whatever you do works.

No scientist knows in the beginning how to produce a vaccine for a new virus.
They do research, many experiments, and tests until they find one.

The mindset of experimenting develops a sense of curiosity rather than failing.

I like this mindset. I started to apply this recently and it makes me feel everything is all right, even on my bad day!

5. Compare to no one and celebrate more

Gentle reminder: Everyone's journey is different and unique.
I can't compare myself to someone who's able to put more time into learning than mine.
I better not compare myself to someone who can understand things faster than me.
The only thing I can compare is where I am now and where I was before.

Looking back and see where I was 2.5 years ago and now where I understand much more things than a single line of HTML is huge. And I completely forget that!

And now, instead of beating myself up for "being slow", I'm learning from my friends who got the jobs. I asked how they got there, and what do we need to get there. Experiences are the best teacher. Not only ours but also other people's. And I'm very lucky to have friends who share their experiences so I can learn from them.

You (and I) should celebrate more. Celebrate our accomplishments, doesn't matter how small it is!
Last time, I bought myself a cute pen for being able to render a component without looking back at the tutorial. Sounds silly? Well, it was a small win after all!

Final Words

I could encounter another burnout in the future. If that time comes, I will look back at this post, and remind me that I was there before and I survived.

I hope this could help you as well if you're in the same situation as I did 😊

Thank you for reading!
Last but not least, you can find me on Twitter. Let's connect! 😊

Victoria Lo's photo

What a wholesome post Ayu! Thanks for sharing your story! It will inspire a lot of people who going through the same as you 😊😊 I definitely had my fair share of burnout as well. I like the part about experimenting. Even for those with years of experience, experimenting is how we learn while having fun!

Ayu Adiati's photo

Thank you so much, Victoria! 😊 Yes, it's my favorite part as well! 😃

Catalin Pit's photo

Thank you for sharing it, Ayu Adiati! It's not easy to talk about these things, and especially online. 🙂

Well done for doing so! I'm sure it will help people. 🙏

And take care of yourself! 🙏

Ayu Adiati's photo

Thank you so much, Catalin Pit! 🙏😃

Victor Ikechukwu's photo

Thanks, Ayu for sharing your experience. this would really help me cope with my future burnouts and imposter syndrome waves 😊. I love your idea about experimenting, would adapt it into my learning. again Thanks for writing!.

Ayu Adiati's photo

Thank you so much, Victor! 😊 I'm glad if it could help you 😃

Edidiong Asikpo's photo

But one thing that we often forget, most of those successful stories also come with struggles.

I absolutely agree! Ayu Adiati

This was a very much-needed read for me. I recently experience burnout some weeks ago and it was terrible. I decided to take a step back from some personal goals so I could rest more and it definitely helped me a lot.

Ayu Adiati's photo

I'm glad that you like it, Edidiong Asikpo! 😀

I do hope you're doing much better now after taking a rest. Take care, Edidiong! ❤

Edidiong Asikpo's photo

Yes, I am doing much better now Ayu Adiati. Thanks for asking. 😃

Eleftheria Batsou's photo

Amazing post :)

I think this quote says it all "that this journey is a marathon, not a sprint". We tend to forget to pause, we see social media and successful people but most of the time we don't know the full story... As you also mentioned, we shouldn't compare ourselves. Everyone is unique and beautiful.

Thank you Ayu Adiati!

Ayu Adiati's photo

Thank you so much for reading, Eleftheria! 🙏🏻😊

Savio Martin's photo

No words to expain this amazing post! Thanks a lot! ✌️

Ayu Adiati's photo

Thank you, and also for reading, Savio Martin! 😄

Aspiiire's photo

Thanks for sharing, I had a similar problem a few months ago, never thought that will happen after years of development!

D3V's photo

I am glad you are back on the track. I reckon there are several reasons behind every burnout. But the most common ones are such as

  • high expectations without putting in enough efforts and consistency(could write about it for hours).
  • social media destructions. -seeing only the tips of iceberg in others success and not understanding what it took them to get there. -And much more....
Adigun Sherif's photo

Very beneficial and worthwhile. Thanks for posting

Ayu Adiati's photo

Thank you for reading, Adigun Sherif 😄

Magda Sokolovic's photo

great article. I love the mindset of experimenting!

Ayu Adiati's photo

Thank you for reading, Magda Sokolovic! 😀

Yes! I love it too! I owe my friend a lot for throwing me that mindset since it's one of the things that helped me go through the massive burnout! 😄

Bhumi Khokhani's photo

That's an amazing article. Thank you for sharing your story, I'm sure it will inspire many. Also, about experimenting, that's obviously the best way to learn while just having fun and exploring new ends. Thanks for writing! 😄

Ayu Adiati's photo

Thank you, and also for reading, Bhumi Khokhani! 😀