I've been a backend software engineer for 3 years and have gotten poor performance ratings twice now. It's taken a toll on my mental health and self-esteem to the point where I just want to quit. I have a passion for art and would love to pursue that but everyone thinks that's really stupid and irresponsible. Maybe it is, but I also think my mental health is important. I'm just burnt out and depressed. Does anyone have any advice or ideas?

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“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid” => I think you probably need to switch managers or company… sometimes is not us, is the manager that puts us in the wrong place/project and we don’t have the chance to shine… the only question you should ask yourself is: is it really art what motivates you? No passion is stupid or non-sense, if you dedicate your time to make the best out of it! Just don’t get confused about a hobby and career. You might be now “mad” at your SW engineering career just because your performance evaluation but if you could shine somewhere else, I bet you would be much happier and you could still work in your art as a side hustle until you feel confident that this is what you want!


My "love" for my career (SWE/DE) has waxed and waned more than you can imagine over the last 20+ years. At one point, I wanted to quit and just go be a mechanic (I love working on cars). I focused on my hobbies (well, 1 hobby in particular), and just let work be work and was grateful that I was paid well enough to do my primary hobby a lot.

I'm super thankful that my work allowed me to keep my passionate hobby a hobby. I know too many people who do their hobby as a career and hate that they can no longer just enjoy their hobby.

Meanwhile, I'm energized about my work and career (again). The job still ebbs and flows like any job would, but I'm looking forward to what comes next.


What about switching over to more creative programming? There’s so much cool stuff out there in front-end with animation and webGL. You could use the background you have, the programming principles that apply everywhere, to do something more creative, subjective and fun. Start experimenting on the side and you could probably get a spot with a creative agency or start freelancing easily!


Do as you feel. Being in the proper place (where you feel happy more often than unhappy) is very important to mental health. I say this as person with major depression experience and BPD diagnosis.
When I was able at least part time to work as a psychologist it made me much more stable and happy. And it was also considered stupid by others, as in my country psychologists do not earn much, regardless of 8 years of studying.

Nevertheless, what is better: to earn more and keep spending money trying to keep your shit together, or earn less and not have mental breakdowns?

Why not work on art on your free time and get a new job that's more artsy programming? Honestly sometimes it's not the field that's the issue, it's the employer and co workers.

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