Burnout

I have not been very active in all aspects of my life since the beginning of 2020 compared to how it used to be — my projects have been pretty much stagnated and I have hardly updated my main blog. More than any time before, I have been in a state of burnout in this unusual year of 2020.

The feeling of a burnout is strange. For me, I don't actually feel that I cannot work on my projects, or that I have no energy to spare for them. Quite the opposite. I can spend all my free time playing Minecraft and working on complicated redstone circuits, which is not less tiring at all when compared to my “real” projects, that is, things we consider “productive” to do. There is simply some sort of reluctance to doing anything productive, anything that could result in some kind of accomplishment. I am aware that they are not that complex to work on, and that once I start working on them, they would not be very tiring — but I just do not want to work on them.

Of course, knowing all of these often makes me “condemn” myself internally for my reluctance to productive work, for which I have to constantly find excuses for, an act called “moral licensing”. My initial excuse was my final year studies, including my final year project which I did not actually invest that much time on. After that came to an end, realizing me still being in a burnout state, I switched my excuse to preparation for application for master's studies. This one made some sense, as those exams that I have to go through are (and I still think so) very tedious to prepare for, especially the GRE which requires me to memorize a bunch of intricate words and their nuances that I probably will not even need for the rest of my life. But it takes nowhere near all of my time or energy, and I still have a lot of time lying around doing absolutely nothing.

I think the situation is more psychological than anything else. My productivity has always been intermittent — just look at my activity graph on GitHub. I would normally hit a one or two months streak, and then become dormant for the following month or two, normally because of a loss of direction. That is when I get confused about what the future of my project is, and what purpose it would serve, not just for me but also for everyone else. The loss of direction incurs a loss of motivation, which causes my productivity-burnout cycles.

This time it is different though. It has lasted for the entirety of 2020 so far, and I still don't feel any better than how I felt at the start of 2020 when everything ridiculous was still in their infancy. The more this state continues, the worse I feel, thanks to all those thoughts of “moral licensing” that I have done in vain, whose only effect was causing me to feel even worse about myself. I think that it came partially from uncertainties about my future, as now I am laser-focused on getting somewhere overseas for my master's studies and hopefully stay there, and if that fails, I don't even know what my plans for the future should be. This is more than just being confused about the purpose of a project, because if my attempt at this fails, none of my project, if any still lives on, would make any sense to me.

Social media of course did nothing helpful in this situation. I don't want to sound like a cynic, but as someone easily frustrated by a few trolls on the Internet, I am overwhelmed by the amount of pointless arguments and disappointing news since the beginning of this year. I am aware that killing my own productivity by indulging myself in these does nothing helpful to anybody including myself, but awareness is not the same as feelings. Without reading such news, I feel isolated; but once I take a look at any news this year at all, the frustration comes back. I cannot even try to go outside more and get a “real” life — travel restrictions mean no friends, no university, no party, nothing.

As of now, although I am trying to get back to working on some of my projects, as the exam dates get closer and closer, my level of motivation does not really increase enough for me to resume my normal activity. I am still not sure what the future holds for me, at least before the results of all these exams come in. I am sorry this is not an uplifting post in such a time, but the fact is that I have no idea how do I get out of all of this without the conditions disappearing first. I guess the best I can do as of now is to have a rest and do not break down completely before everything ridiculous even ends.