This is my first ever post. I found out about this site back when it was still named “devpressed” and had it bookmarked. I never thought I’d go so low as to try to find help on this site, but today I have, almost a year after first bookmarking this site. I’m an anxious guy and am horrible at requesting help, but I’ll try my best. This is my story…
I have been battling anxiety since childhood, but I didn’t know that when I was young, nor did my parents recognize it for what it is. As a child, I used to have severe chronic asthma which prevented me from playing with my friends at school and going on school trips. I guess this has made me a loner today, but I did have a lot of friends back at school. I used to fall sick at least once a month and would have to miss school for a week. I was always extremely good at studies (“the” top performer actually) and was a perfectionist. So, when it was time to go back to school after recovering from my ill health, I would cry all night long worrying about how to catch up with school work and all the teachers notes, etc. I recognize this now as symptoms of anxiety (how I wish my parents recognized this back then). Even with all this, I was still the best all through school.
My exceptional academics continued and I got a top-50 ranking in an entrance test for graduate studies. People with such ranking usually get into the best universities. Best universities usually translate to better employment opportunities and better salaries after graduation. For me, this was a problem… the biggest problem of my life so far. Joining the best university meant that I would have to leave home for the first time. I never could do it (due to anxiety) and ended up joining a university in my home town, but this feeling of losing a golden opportunity for a better life later on took a tremendous toll on my health. I suffered from thyroid problems which took the better part of 3 years to recover from (almost the length of my graduation). My doctor said it was because of extreme stress.
I thought my tribulations were over. But they weren’t. After graduation, many of my peers decided to move to the united states to pursue they post graduation studies. Once again, my anxiety did not allow me do join them. I ended up staying back and continuing my full time software engineering job and in general lagging behind my peers. Even though I was good at academics, my anxiety just wouldn’t allow me to pursue my post-graduation. I know this sounds crazy, but it is hard to explain.
So, I decided to become very good at the job I was in and I did. My manager at my first job thought and still thinks to this day that I was one of the best new hires he had seen. The team later got dissolved and I moved into my second software engineering job which I’m current in for the past 4.5 years. I’m a C and Linux programmer. I am still considered a valuable asset in the team I’m in, but, I am beginning to dislike my job. Part of the reason is that it is becoming harder for me to improve on my performance. I work on a huge codebase that has been continually expanding over many years and a lot of code has gotten very complex over time and I’m beginning to lose my grasp on understanding these complex pieces.
I realized it was time to move on. I had also developed an interest in Python programming and was starting to use it more and more on my hobby projects (nothing significant). So, I decided I was going to get a job which involved working in Python. I also decided to learn machine learning and deep learning in Python online (MOOCs) and successfully completed the specializations. I try to practice the concepts by participating in kaggle competitions (just started working on my second competition), but it takes several weeks to complete a single competition in between managing my day job. So, even after several months, I do not have the practical experience to start applying for machine learning / data science jobs, more so since I’m trying to switch domains (from C and Linux programming to machine learning in Python). I have other Python projects on my github page, but none related to machine learning.
This has got me very depressed and feeling stuck and hopeless. I’m unable to make progress in my current job and I’m unable to find a new job. I’m not sure whether anybody would want to hire me given I have little to no practical experience in the area I am interested in working on. I fear that it will take me several more months to build a portfolio of practical projects which can be demonstrated to employers. I am feeling depressed that I will remain stuck forever at a job I don’t like. Most importantly, I feel like a failure in life. Most of my peers have gone on to work for great companies abroad, while I’m languishing behind. What hurts the most is that I wasn’t always so bad and helpless when I was younger and I don’t know what changed.
Sorry for the long post. Like I said, I’m really bad at asking for help. I just wanted to put it out there in the hope that somebody who has gone through just such a phase in life will be able to give me some advice on how to proceed.