Looking For A Change

I loved school.

I loved meeting new people in each of my classes. I loved being exposed to new ideas. I loved learning new things. I loved collaborating with my classmates. I loved the feeling of competition between groups in class. I loved having to go somewhere every day.

I loved school so much, I graduated Honors with Distinction from Drexel just because I enjoyed the classes that earned that title; they were the most difficult, social, and mind-opening. I loved moving the goalposts back for myself.

Many of those experiences remained true after graduating. I started working on Arcade with Dan Mall and Leslie Camacho. We were learning together and building something new and exciting, and almost every week, we had a demo scheduled with a team from another company. The idea was thrilling.

Today, I experience almost none of those things. I work full-time for a medium-sized company where the product has plateaued on growth. I spend every single day working alone in my apartment. I'm rarely exposed to new ideas. The amount I learn has slowed dramatically. I'm meeting no new people on a consistent basis.

Needless to say, I feel drained. Some would say I'm burned out, but I'd argue it's the opposite. I've been under-stimulated for so long that I've entered this mode of mental stasis. Constant lethargy. The persistent state of ambition I once had now takes so much energy to muster up. It's gotten to a point where it's starting to affect how I see myself; have I failed too many times? am I no good at building things? am I a fake entrepreneur? have I been wasting my time? should I give up entirely and lean into full-consumer mode?

I acknowledge that those thoughts are negative and that I should actively combat them, which is what this post's purpose is. I want to reclaim my building pride, light the fire of ambitions inside me, and feel the electricity between myself and others. That's when I'm happiest, so that's where I need to get back to again.

Here is what has worked for me in the past:

- Teaching at Drexel last winter was amazing. I met so many amazing, talented students who really inspired me. Many disappointed me, but I think the good ones outweigh the bad ones. I loved being in person with them, teaching, sharing knowledge, and feeling respected by others.

- Building something the right way. Arcade was so much fun to build because we got so many messages from people asking us to see what we were building. People cared. We were solving a real problem for people. The path to revenue was clear. We were doing it right, and it was legit.

Here is what hasn't worked for me in the past:

- Better work. Pretty much everything related to my full-time job is a drag. The suspension of disbelief that my full-time company-work matters has long been broken, and I simply don't care. It's not meaningful to me.

- Coffee shops. Sometimes when I feel like I've been alone all day I work from a coffee shop. I order a decaf coffee from the barista and then say not another word as I work in the coffee shop without talking to anyone.

Here is what I'm unsure of:

- Remote work. I love being able to get my laundry done or hop out of bed and onto the computer or drive somewhere to run an errand if I have to. I don't know if this is a good thing.

- Finding purpose through a full-time job. Is the full-time job just a paycheck? Should I look to have my full-time job fulfill me? Or should I be trying to find this fulfillment outside of a 9-5?

- New technology. Every once in a while I'll get a kick out of learning a new framework or tackling an interesting problem, but I see those as "quick-fixes" rather than a sustainable solution for the long-term.

So now, I'm not sure how to move forward in the new year. I want things to change. I need things to change. It's going to be up to me to change them, but I don't know how. Where can I feel like I'm surrounded by smart and ambitious people? How can I feel accomplished, prideful, and part of a larger community? How can I feel socialized while building something great?

Advice and recommendations welcome.