On feeling overwhelmed

October 19, 2021

Too many hobbies, too little time, too many thoughts.

I wanted to write about this subject for a while, but got stopped by the same thing that made me think about writing this post. Which is... good? Annoying? Well, at least I maybe got a better understanding of such.

I was always interested in too many things: Drawing, electronics, crafting, coding, writing, etc. While growing up, this never really seemed like an issue. Yes, I'd from time to time hyper-focus on one of the subjects, learn a little bit more and then go back on doing other things. The lack of commitment didn't seem like a big issue back then. It was just who I was, I liked doing many things - I was always referred to as a 'creative person' — and I liked it. Big part of it was not just because I enjoyed such things, but because I was curious — the love for understanding and knowing things. Not sure if that has a name.

Fast forward to today, I'm 31, a Software Developer, and I still am interested in too many subjects. And I still go through the same cycles: Find something interesting by accident, read about it, watch videos about it and go through at least a month of hyper-focusing on the subject, just so it slowly fades out and life goes back to normal. And sometimes this normal now has a couple of new 'gadgets/tools' acquired during the excitement spree. Of course I need a full blown game development toolkit for this recently acquired interest that I will for sure pursue to an extent of changing my career.

So, where do I want to get with this? (I mean this blog post) Well... I'm not completely sure if because of the time constraints adulthood imposes, or maybe the ease of access to new information, the pandemic and the whole lockdown thing. Maybe all of them. But the thing is: I have been feeling overwhelmed. It is the same feeling I have when I have to organize my desk and I just don't know where to put so many random things, what to keep, what to throw. "But one day I might need this USB cable - I know I have like 20 of those, but this has a different length that might come handy".

The thing is, when it comes to those "hobbies" (although I don't believe its a good word for my case), I'm not too sure yet what causes the overwhelmness. It is a fluctuating feeling, a feeling of wanting to just throw everything away and not do anything too different anymore, and just accept routine as it is - go to work, leave, have fun. Repeat. But then other thoughts flood my head - all the interesting things out there to experience, to be able to do. And sort of knowing that I can do all of them. Or can I? It is a weird fear of missing out, maybe fear of... growing old?

This feeling, although I said as if it was a recent thing, I know it has been there for a while, but I think it's just getting more urgent. Not that there's actually a thing to be fixed, but it feels more urgent. The feeling always made me think of formal work with some level of despise at times. Sometimes would be not like I hated work, but being there felt almost claustrophobic. It was this huge part of my day where I didn't have much saying on what to do. This created one of my longest on-going interests, that is the one of creating a business that would ultimately save me from this. It is still something that I aspire to do. As a Software Developer I believe that it is doable, and from all 'hobbies', maybe the one that I actually iterate over and am slowly getting better at. No, I never managed to create a half successful business, but I feel that I have a better understanding of such. So with this lest paragraph I wanted to express this: This overwhelming feeling, I feel that is a bit of many things, but one of them is this discomfort of not having freedom over my time. When you are in your 20s, you feel ok, it's just how things are at the begining. As you get older, this feeling gets a tad more bitter.

With that said, there's something that I have been trying to understand and explore, that might lead the way to less stressed and overwhelmed times. Besides the sheer amount of interests, which yes, I think need some thinking as well, there's also this behaviour that I believe does not help me. I try constantly to use my interests and hobbies as both a motivator and a clutch to move myself out of my current routine. This alone I think is not all that bad, but you have to remember, I have a galore of half butted skills. If you are getting from point A to B and need a clutch, a sturdy good one is better than a bunch of tiny clutches. So, this is the first part. The second bit, which I'm both starting to learn but also sometimes find it a hard pill to swallow: Work currently is fine. My life routine is more than ok. This is particularly hard to admit because there's part of me that panics feeling that this is it. But the thing is, it's never it (unless you are extremely idle/numbened by the situation, a bit of self awareness goes a long way). Things will change and be interesting and boring, over and over. So, I am trying to align this aspect of my life. Feeling content with what I do for a living currently. And also, allow yourself to be always mildly uncomfortable, and listen to it.

"Always mildly uncomfortable" sounds like a weird sports brand tagline.

The other thing that I'm trying to do, and maybe a bit more aligned with the purpose of this blog, have a long term commitment with some of my hobbies. It does not to be a second job. But just be something that I am not stretching myself too thin, its ok to have many interests at the same time, but let's just a couple of them drive what I produce and put out there. From all my interests listed in the beginning, most of them have a point in common that I enjoy, which is sharing it. Yes, showing it, we all like to show what we've done. But also sharing. So, having this blog in place might help me create a narrative around my ever so changing interests. See that in the big scheme of things, it all makes sense and it's part of what I am.

So yes, I still feel somewhat overwhelmed. But for the foreseable future, I am acting on it with the following approach:

  • Being mindful at work. It's a good job and I enjoy it.
  • Be more thoughtful around my hobbies. It's ok that there's many of them, but removing the weight of "saving me from work", and allow them to just be fun, and that I don't get distracted too much - try to finish small projects more oftem.

Well, that's it. I know this post might be a bit chaotic, or not be of much help to many of you. But it helped me, I needed to put this down and go through what I was thinking recently. And I feel that I finished this post with a clearer mind. Less overwhelmed. Writing has this super power of purging your thoughts and leaving just what actually matters in a better shape.

If this post inspired you in some shape or form, I'm glad that I put it out there.

Have a nice day,