I was sick of coding. Luckily I got fired and it changed my life.

A man in front of his computer, fixing bugs late night

It was a late night, raining outside. Streetlights were shining through the window. I was alone in the office, everyone else left hours ago. But I was still sitting in front of my computer, trying to fix a bug in my code. Sure, it was a standard 9-5 job, but I promised the project I was working on will be done by the end of the day (you must know I have Responsibility on the first place at my Cliffton Strengths test which means I just had to do it).

Everything seemed to be correct, but it didn’t work. It worked on the clean project, but not on mine. I tried all the solutions, tried different approaches, tried to debug my code, 3rd party libraries code, native code, and every code I could debug. I became a master of debugging. I was trying to fix it for hours, but nothing worked. I was getting more and more frustrated. I was getting angry. I was getting desperate. I was getting tired. I was getting exhausted. I was getting burned out.

I gave up. I went to a bus stop. It was still raining. This was definitely one of the worst days of my life. The bus was getting late and late, so I had some time to think – is that what I want to do for the next 10, 20 or 30 years of my life? I was a senior software developer and knew everything about my job, but still had to fight with those machines. It’s not going to change, is it?

Three days later I finally found and fixed the issue. It took me a few more days to finish the project. Was I happy? No. Each month I liked my job less and less.

My job was slowly becoming awful

I was feeling sick thinking about getting in front of my computer. I couldn’t write a single line of code for days, just staring at my IDE and crying inside.

I knew it was burnout. I knew no one will make this job done for me. No matter how long I was procrastinating – this stupid bug had to be fixed by me. And tens of others waiting in the backlog.

How I got fired

I finally got past the dark moments, I fixed those unfixable bugs. It was a bit better a few months later. I was gradually decreasing my employment, so I had 4 and then 3 working days a week. This gave me some air, and I could get back my mental health. I was making enough money for living out of it, and I had some time for my side hustle which was writing React Native apps for my own clients.

But I still hated this job. I was not learning anything new. Literally, anything. Nothing was exciting. Nothing was giving me hope it will ever change.

My boss then asked me: Piotr, maybe you want to decrease the employment to just one day a week? There’s currently not much to be done anyway. I agreed, and it turned out I was already done for that month. Yay, time for some good rest.

Next month he told me that they are still waiting for some new feedback, and he’ll call me once there’s something for me to work on.

He never did.

It was the best that could happen

I woke up. Suddenly I realised I’m free. I could spread my wings and fly away as Freddie was singing. I get to know React Native quite well until then, and it was giving me a lot of joy and satisfaction. So now I could work 100% on my terms, for my own clients.

Except that I sucked at sales and marketing, so no clients were waiting in line at that moment, and it turned out I was pretty much broke. And that’s not the best situation when you have a family to feed.

So my side hustle plan didn’t really work out. I had to accept that and get back to the “real job” to make money.

    I came back stronger than ever

    I decided to change my career a bit. I was applying for jobs as a React Native Developer. I didn’t know it well enough to earn the same as in my previous job, but I loved this technology. It was worth it for me to give up a good salary for the joy of coding and my new passion.

    That feeling was just incredible. After a few years of life being sucked out of me day by day, I was very hungry of learning, of getting better at what I’m doing, and of being successful.

    Years later I still read newsletters about React Native. I read articles, listen to podcasts, watch videos, and attend conferences about it – also in my free time. And I love it!

    Lesson learned

    What could be done better in this case? Well, obviously, the decision about my employment shouldn’t be left to my boss. It is me who should decide to leave the toxic job years before it took all the joy out of my life.

    The power that comes from being mad is endless. I was mad at myself for losing so much time. I took advantage of it and started to learn. And I’ve been learning like crazy ever since.

    Sounds familiar?

    If you are also feeling like this, just remember that it is you who is in charge of your life. You can change it. You can make it better. It’s up to you.

    Go ahead and share your story with me. I’d love to hear it. You can do it in the comments below, or you can send me an email. Let’s talk about it.

    What else you can do? Try applying for a job. Even if you don’t want to change it right now, it’s a good exercise to see what’s out there. Don’t worry, you can always say no. I know it can be uncomfortable, but it’s worth it.