Performance anxiety vs. underperformance, commitment vs. overdoing it


Hey everyone, I am reaching out to anyone who feel as if they want to and can help me, as I am at a loss as to what I am currently doing wrong. I’ll try to keep it relatively simple (although I tend to be verbose):

Worked for a year at my current (first, and only) job: compiler development.

Was hired for a 3-month project developing a server-API to the compiler’s API. Turns out the compiler team needs a new guy and I somehow managed to impress someone; got a 6-month test period and was brought on for real after that.
I made my master’s thesis developing an algorithm framework for the compiler (thesis finished, framework is not in trunk).

Due to a shortage of resources I did not really get a mentor, but have spent the year dragging team members to my side and prodding them for help. Not that they don’t want to help, but they have their own shit to do. As it was my first job it was my first experience with a huge code base with several very different sections (compilation, optimization, flattening, code generation, runtime, et.c…). Needless to say I feel as if I have been racing to be able to produce anything since I first started. Every day feels like a struggle and I am constantly wracked by

After a year I am still quite slow in comparison to my co-workers (three of them, 4-7 years of experience), and I don’t think I have completed any issue given even double the estimated time. I have not ever been responsible for any real development either (thank the heavens) but rather small extensions, modifications, or (dread) bug fixes. I am becoming a bit more stand-alone each day, but am still very slow.

I do keep a TODO fresh each day, but due to testing being dependent on rebuilding the compiler most of the time (3-4 minutes) it is impossible to stay effective working on just one thing at a time. The way I have tried to compensate for this is by working at home (without extra pay) so I am often putting in 50+ hours per week, just to stay afloat. However, this is killing me slowly, and my suicidal thoughts and SH fits are raining more and more often*.

I can’t really lose this job either since they have agreed to let me work while commuting (two hours a day); something other companies would be reluctant to match. I live a bit away from where most developer jobs are since me and my wife chose to settle in our home town.

*I am seeing a therapist on a weekly basis. I have been struggling with anorexia nervosa for two years (it came into full bloom once I transitioned from a student to a worker). However, it just feels like everyone just assumes I have too high expectations of myself. I feel so angry at every each and one of them (even my wife). I mean they are not there when I work, they don’t hear the sighs or feel the disappointment in the replies to your questions. They all seem to have had easy transitions into their jobs, easily finding themselves a mentor or maybe they were just actually good at their jobs.

Most of the time I really feel like I just want an easier job. A cashier or something. A job I can go to that I do not feel as if I need to bring home (mentally) everyday, something where I have a set of things to do each day that won’t bite me in the arse down the line. Shit. It’s just all with the student loans and stuff as well, and I do not want to let my wife down by bringing in a lousy salary compared to her. Gah, well. Sorry for rambling.


Trust me that doesn’t work.

I’ve done that for the last year - putting 50-60 hours a week - nights and sometimes weekends - and now I feel completely burn out. I’ve submitted my resignation yesterday.

It sounds like you’re doing good even though your not getting the support you need. Schedule a 1 on 1 with your manager just to talk about how things are going. If they don’t know you put 10 hours extra per week, then they can’t adjust and help you out.

If they don’t give a sh!t about you logging 10 extra hours a week then it’s time to look at other options elsewhere.

Yeah me too. My brother is a postman and the thought of working in the “real world”, outside, providing a (somewhat obsolete) service to people, sounds a lot more normal.


Hi Vicissitude,

Any update? Did things get any better? Going from school to work is extremely difficult. In school you have doable projects with reasonable deadlines laid out for you. In the ‘professional’ world you can be totally set up to fail.

Don’t forget that if you fail outside of school, sometimes it really isn’t your fault. I’ve seen plenty of managers give people work they knew was impossible but did it anyway. Try to remember it’s just a job and not your life. Make a promise to yourself to not work overtime one week and see how you feel. Keep a list of accomplishments you make every day, even if they’re small ones.

Good luck!