June 28, 2021
0 strokes bestowed

What's Going On?

Mid 2021


Disclaimer: This post will not be published forever. What I will share here is not the kind of content I believe belongs on my blog for the long term. I will be archiving it at the end of July 2021.

A lot has happened for me in the first half of 2021 and I need to take a moment to try and process some of that. I tend to get stuck in thought-loops when I keep things to myself, so this post is my attempt at externally processing what has transpired so far.

What has happened, briefly

At the end of February, I suddenly left Webflow to join Murmur. Up til now, only a handful of people know why it happened the way it did. To understand, we have to go back to 2020.

For all of 2020, I was the only engineer working on a revamp of an important Webflow feature: the Assets manager. It was a lonely grind and not one I was terribly interested in. Combine those factors with the complete inability to get my extroverted needs met due to the pandemic, I became very depressed.

You have to understand a few things about me to truly comprehend this situation. I have chronic depression and ADHD. I was diagnosed with both at the age of 10 and have struggled with them for essentially my entire life.

One challenge I have with ADHD, in particular, is that I struggle with "executive function". If I do not find something interesting or urgent enough, it is agonizingly difficult for me to execute the task. It can often be so challenging to do a task, that attempts to do so will result in literal physical discomfort, anxiety and depression. This can often lead to a vicious cycle.

The work I did in the first ten months of 2020 had me moderately burnt out and depressed. It only got worse from there.

In November 2020, I was told that I was being moved to the Growth team in 2021 as part of a reorganization of the engineers. Without going into detail, the goals and mission of the Growth team did not align with my principles and goals. I knew that working on that team would lead to further depression and a decline in my productivity. I asked immediately to be moved to another team, one that more closely aligned with my goals and interests. I was denied.

For those two months leading into 2021, I became more depressed and anxious over the future. I was being forced to endure an unknowable amount of depression for an unknowable length of time, with no guarantees that I would be moved from that team if and when the time came for another reorganization. It got so bad, that I began to have stress dreams, often screaming in my sleep.

2021 came and just as I had said it would, the work for the new team depressed me and my productivity tanked. I had absolutely no interest in my work. I felt shitty about what we were building. Felt even worse about the goals of the team. It was going downhill fast.

All the while, I continued to ask that I be moved to another team. I made it clear what working on this team was doing to me. That it was damaging my already garbage mental health. Everyone I told said nothing could be done. I felt impotent.

Let me ask you: just what the fuck are you supposed to do when you're told that your input and your mental health don't matter?

I asked myself that question and could only come up with one answer: find another job. I lacked the mental fortitude to go through the rigamarole of technical interviewing, but I managed to find a new job through some good friends. It was the escape hatch I needed, and so I left Webflow and joined Murmur.

In hindsight, I joined Murmur too quickly. I joined right away because in America, health insurance is tied to employment and I needed to maintain coverage for my family. The initial energy spike of doing something novel got me through the first few weeks, but eventually it wore off, and I began to realize that things were not quite what I needed at Murmur.

I really struggled to match the energies of some of my Murmur teammates. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed all of them. Two are some of my best friends and the others were great as well, but for whatever reason, our vibes just didn't mesh. Suffice it to say that we had different values and priorities. I wasn't getting what I wanted or needed and was unhappy for it, and they weren't getting the kind of engineer they deserve because of it.

Again, I found myself depressed and burnt out. I realized that I needed a break, and I needed to find something better suited for me. I turned in my resignation and left at the start of June. I've been trying to rest ever since (with mixed results).

What am I feeling?

A lot of things, but one that comes back to me a lot is feeling broken. I feel like I lack whatever gene or trait others have that lets them find satisfying work and stay at it for a reasonable amount of time.

It doubly sucks because there has never been a question of whether I'm skilled enough to do the work. Skill is not the issue. It's these situations where I end up with little to no control over what I do that I have so little tolerance for. I just don't have whatever others have that lets them put up with a less than ideal situation for as long as they do.

What are my plans?

I don't fully know. Right now, I've taken June to try and rest. Admittedly, I think resting has taught me that rest isn't exactly what I need. Doing nothing all the time is overrated and boring (which can lead to other executive function issues). I don't want to overwork, either. What I want is meaningfulness and significance. I would like to feel like there's some purpose to waking up each day. I would love to face a work day without dread, unlike how I've felt for the last 18 months or so.

I honestly am not sure what I will do going forward. I have some ideas, but struggling at the moment to get them going or across the finish line.

I think I would like to work on a couple small courses and release them on my own. I'd like to prove to myself that I'm capable of generating at least some income directly.

I would consider also running some workshops based on that material. I think I could be pretty good at that.

The main point of that work, though, is to create some additional revenue. I don't actually want to do teaching or workshops full time. While I enjoy it, it's not the kind of challenge that I want to work on day in and day out.

I am unsure what I'll do for my main source of income. A part of me wants to work somewhere because it's the safest thing I can do, but I may run into many of these same problems again.

Another part of me wants to start a business idea I have, but is fundamentally scared of trying to make something that risky work.

If I'm being honest, I think I need to do some healing before I can really lean one way or the other. I just don't know if I'll heal as quickly as my budget will require. Such is life.


That's what's happened to me in 2021 so far and what I'm up to now. I appreciate you reading this and letting me share my struggles. Thanks.

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Kyle Shevlin is a software engineer who specializes in JavaScript, React and front end web development.