Burnout And Imposter Syndrome

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Have you ever felt so less of yourself even in glaring achievements? Have you experienced so much tiredness that you keep staring at your screen with no motivation whatsoever? Trust me, I was not sure I wanted to share this but it is an experience I feel you will learn from and get some motivation to sustainably push yourself.

2021 started with hope for me, happy I survived the pandemic year, I even wrote a 2020-in-review. I started off this year by outlining my goals, beautiful things, and milestones I want to achieve. Showed my plans to a couple of friends for accountability, they shared theirs too. As nerdy as I can be, I started working on them already.

In the first week of January, I had to nurse my friend at the hospital (he is perfectly fine now). So I had to juggle coding and tech stuff and nursing him at the hospital. After it, I felt really worn out so I decided I just take a short break as I usually do. This was the beginning of it. I term it the "unending break" lol. I did not realize how much I was burned out, I thought a week would sort it out. A week passed off, I even felt worse than before. Remembering how much work I left behind was not even helping matters. As stubborn as I could be I resumed working even when I knew I was falling off. There is a Nigerian slang that says "body no be firewood" meaning the body is not a stick and needs rest, so my productivity drastically dropped but I kept moving in bits.

Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.

Eventually, I totally broke down, like I couldn't do a thing. I stared at my screen all day frustrated and tired. Grudgingly, I took another break. This time I tried it differently, engaged in other non-tech activities, talked to, and hung out with friends. I felt better but another phase started.

Coming back to work, I felt I was not blending anymore. I feared everything had wiped off my head (funny right) but that's exactly how it felt. Crowning it up, rejection emails were spilled over my mailbox. Imposter Syndrome had just set in my space and made me feel less of myself. I felt I did not know what I was doing, I might never do something so cool, I am not that smart to get this or get that gig. Some accepted conference talks I wanted to cancel out on, it felt like I was in a deep hole I couldn't get out from. I thought about how I was even wasting time sulking and envied other's progress.

Imposter syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be

At this moment I was invited to have a Live Stream at iMakeFOSS and talk about my journey in tech and open source, I sincerely wanted to cancel out because I was not feeling it at all, but I just dragged myself to do it. In the live stream, sharing my journey and achievements so far, hearing myself say it made me feel a different kind of way, a good way. It helped me appreciate how far I had come in less than a year of coding.

Cutting this short, I did not magically feel better but it was a start for me to remind myself of why I started. I started looking at the good sides, reached out to my friends, and asked for help.

I am sharing this because I want to let you know if you feel this way, you are not alone, we all feel it at some point, the phase comes but we do not stay down.

If you feel burnout, take a break, rest, do fun stuff, talk it out!

If you feel less of yourself, take a pen, write down everything you have achieved (even though little) and read them out, reach out to others, help others(it gives some form of fulfillment), and take it easy on yourself. Check out this poem I wrote some time ago. It's really soothing.

WhatsApp Image 2021-02-14 at 7.13.39 PM.jpeg Photo Credit: Perrie

For now, I am taking things one at a time, I am learning not to pressure myself so much. Gradually, I am making some progress, getting back at those things I love doing. I know things will get better!

Feel free to share your experience and tips on Burnout and Imposter Syndrome in the comment section. Thanks for reading!

UDOKAKU UGOCHUKWU's photo

Keep going Ruth. The road is really rough but we'd all reach our goals.

Adeniji Victor's photo

Great article Ruth...

I pray you get that dream job of yours soon.

Amarachi Emmanuela Azubuike's photo

I'm rooting for you Ruthie. Glad to know you're doing much better.

pascal ojinnaka's photo

Great article.

Glad you are getting over it. Had burnouts also last month. It was crazy.

Ruth Ikegah's photo

Thanks! pascal ojinnaka. I hope you are better now

Deji's photo

Cheers Ruth. I get in this kinda rut too sometimes, looks like we handle it in similar ways, and I learned a couple more too.