Finding my Niche? (story, rant, and looking for advice?)

Hi, I just found this board a few hours ago and have been reading through it. I’ve been trying to make sense of what happened to me the past 2 years and where to go next.

Two years ago I quit attending classes during my junior year because I just lost interest and was quite depressed and lost, I lost the will to go out, socialize etc, I just locked myself in my room all the time only leaving for meals if I felt like it (and could afford it). I was a computer science student but I no longer had an interest in my classes. I also ended up failing out because I didn’t drop the classes. I decided to transfer and enroll to a new university thinking that a change of environment would reinvigorate me. I like programming. Let me rephrase that; I like reading about programming. I enjoy reading about computer science things and technology. I enjoy thinking about how to solve problems or even designing solutions. I also like teaching and mentoring other people in programming and computer science related topics. I find programming itself to not be fun at all (I did at one time enjoy it a great deal). The biggest issue being that I just lose interest really fast when I actually start working on anything. I have done a few self-started projects but I never made them public since it was before I decided to actively use github and bitbucket, and I’m not much of a blogger. I also generally receive praise from other people that I work with regarding my programming and problem solving ability when I do work in groups (generally if I work with someone else I will finish my work load just out of curtesy).

After transferring I still did pretty terrible, I felt spaced out most of the time, even more lost, and even more depressed than before and failed out again after my first semester there. I spoke with my advisor (albeit far too late) about the issues I was having, although I didn’t tell her about the whole withdraw from everything episode before, and she told me it seemed like I just hadn’t found a niche and burned out. This seemed like a possibility, but I’m unsure if I agree with her. I know I don’t really like web development which seems to be the big thing right now and most of the programming jobs around here are in that. This causes me concern because I feel pressure to learn web development just because it’s employable, but I still have no interest in it at all and don’t really want to end up in a job doing it. I do enjoy game development related topics and robotics programming or playing around with Arduino and microcontrollers and I’ve also found I like science related programming topics like bioinformatics and computations physics as well so I kind of know my interests.

I’m in a situation where I probably can’t return to taking classes for another semester or so and I can’t seem to find employment in programming or software or even IT or tech support because I don’t have a degree, certifications, or connections. This has led me to feel even further depressed because I feel like I’m just wasting more time that I already have that I could be putting towards my “niche” or whatever, but I can’t find what I want to focus on. Whenever I start a project I just lose interest the next day and start something new. Many times I’ve found I can’t focus on my personal projects anymore because I feel like I should be trying something else, or learning something else because there is so much out there to learn.

I guess after all of that I’m just trying to find where to go. Any ideas on what would cause someone to just lose interest and withdraw like that, though honestly I’ve always been a bit of a shut in and not very social. I feel like I need to force myself to be more social to get anywhere (which is funny because I was always told programming and developing is one of the few careers you can get awway with minimum socializing when I was growing up but I don’t think that’s true anymore). Is it possible to find a programming job in my situation? What are some good ways to find my “niche”? I honestly feel like I have no future some days because of my own poor decisions, but I think it’s possible to still dig myself out of this hole and move on with my life. I’ve been suggested before to get contracts but I don’t really know the best way to do that. Sometimes I feel like my biggest problem is that I’m always focused on where I will or want to be in the future I forget about the present.

I just found these forums too and now I don’t need to write my story because you did it for me. :smile: I feel like the areas I am interested in like science tific programming or 3d graphics are only accessible to the absolute accademic best. I went from straight As to almost straight Fs since my anxiety came back. I worry that if I don’t start a career in a very auspicious way lll be stuck without the option to work on projects that interest me. I don’t have any evidence either way. It is just a fear.

Curious - I know personal projects can help out quite a bit. Like if you worked on your own 3D graphics project. Hopefully you’re not like me though in that area too lol. Recently whenever I try to start up any personal projects I get this anxious feeling that I should be working on something else.

I have started narrowing down my similar problems to unexamined perfectionism. I just never feel like I am doing the right thing the right way. The grass is always greener. Maybe you are experiencing something similar. If I enjoyed every day of my life while doing suboptimal things, I think that would actually be a highly optimized life.

I’ve actually considered this before. I know I’ve started projects and such over or even just quit altogether many times before just because I was worried I wasn’t doing it the right or most optimal way and eventually burned out worrying about it. Thanks for this insight though, I feel it deserves deeper cosideration on my part. In another post on here I saw a book recommended about coping with perfectionism. I’m not sure it’s the entire issue for me though, but maybe a critical piece.

I find that the best way to deal with this is to have several, fairly different, projects on the go at any one time, and flick between them - so at the moment I have 2 web dev projects, 2 Android apps, and 2 games, all in development

That way, I don’t have to concern myself as much as to whether I’m learning what I should be, and it means that I can just switch to another project when my interest in one starts to wane (sometimes I end up working on all of them in a single day because my motivation levels are so low)

@Curious and @Ikana, Thank you so much for sharing your side of the story, looks like I’m in the same spot, and I’ve just asked the following question on quora (Fend of Curiosity in multiple projects (Although I’m anonymous on Quora ! ha). I’ve been in this loop for the last 8 years, going from learning linux kernel programming -> learning unix -> learning embedded systems -> learning python -> learning robotics -> learning lisp -> learning to make my own operating sysyem -> learning arduino and raspberry pi -> learning big data/machine learning -> learning aerodynamics -> learning open cv -> learning WEKA…the list goes on.

I’ve never been able to satisfy this curiosity or ADD which i’ve had all this while, I don’t stick to one thing and lose interest as soon as the learning curve gets steep and start looking for another GETTING STARTED GUIDE which could satiate my desire to keep on learning yet never ever focusing on anything.

I really want to just know what to do and get into it right away. I just can’t choose. I even brought books like what do i do with my life and refuse to choose which kinda address these issues, but well, i didn’t even FINISH those books, after reading the first 30 - 40 pages, i called it quits !

I’ve suffered from panic attacks and take medication for anxiety and depression, and also attending counselling sessions. Over the past 4.5 years of my job, i’ve switched fields from pre-sales to business analysis and then to MIS reporting to finally (something good here) VBA programming in Excel. But I’m completely lost ! I still don’t know what to do with my life.

The few good/ ENCOURAGING things that have happened was that I was able to complete the machine learning course by Andrew Ng & another one on WEKA last year and then after pushing myself somehow for 6 months I completed the DIGIT RECOGNIZER on kaggle, which gave me some feeling that YES FINALLY there is something I can do…but that was more than a year ago and I’ve lost steam again !

I’m currently thinking of pursuing the machine learning/data science path …but I hate statistics, I don’t know what I’ll do…maybe i’ll open my arduino kit today ( which has been lying around for more than a year now) or maybe i’ll install open cv and do something…i’ve lost hope just like you, But now I know i’m not alone.

Is there someone who can help us out ? and thanks @Ezard for your suggestion. I tried that too but I end up watching youtube vidoes and DREAMING about the day when i’ll get THE EPIPHANY .

Looking for some help…guidance…support…

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