Burnout & Curiosity

Well, it has been a while since I wrote anything on this blog, but I’m returning with a non-tech related topic that is relevant to the title of this post. In short, I’ve lost my curiosity in programming. Programming was the reason I pursued a Computer Science program, developed interesting personal projects, started my own startup after university, and opened doors to many interesting opportunities. However, I’ve lost that passion, and I don’t know how to regain it.

I closed my social media accounts a long time ago, including Facebook and Twitter. The only ones I have left are LinkedIn and Reddit, and I mostly just lurk on Reddit. Although it was a good decision, it also eliminated any online socializing opportunities that I enjoyed. I’m not active in any tech or programming communities, and I’ve stopped contributing to open-source projects. I think this is a natural transition considering I now have a family and a child.

Besides socializing, I would also say that an uninteresting and intellectually unsatisfying day job has contributed to my lack of curiosity. The majority of what the tech industry does is similar work in different shapes and forms. Although there are good opportunities out there that offer both job satisfaction and compensation, I ignored them because my decision mechanism was skewed towards compensation. While my day job pays well, my job satisfaction has decreased considerably.

Anyway, I’m not planning on writing a long post about this because I don’t know how to fix it. However, I found it interesting that even the best of us can go through this phase. Here are Richard Feynman’s own words when he was going through a similar phase and what his solution was.

Then I had another thought: Physics disgusts me a little bit now, but I used to enjoy doing physics. Why did I enjoy it? I used to play with it. I used to do whatever I felt like doing—it didn’t have to do with whether it was important for the development of nuclear physics, but whether it was interesting and amusing for me to play with. When I was in high school, I’d see water running out of a faucet growing narrower, and wonder if I could figure out what determines that curve. I found it was rather easy to do. I didn’t have to do it; it wasn’t important for the future of science; somebody else had already done it. That didn’t make any difference: I’d invent things and play with things for my own entertainment.

[…] So I got this new attitude. Now that I am burned out and I’ll never accomplish anything, I’ve got this nice position at the university teaching classes which I rather enjoy, and just like I read the Arabian Nights for pleasure, I’m going to play with physics, whenever I want to, without worrying about any importance whatsoever.