Procrastination and guilt, should I quit?


Hey everyone, I would like to share my story and ask you for advice.

I learned the fundamentals of coding using an online tutorial in the summer before my studies started. Thus, I was not a complete beginner when I took the first programming course at university. Being among the best students motivated me, and I worked hard to write the best exam. In the process, I discovered that I really enjoyed helping other students complete their assignments and understand Java.

I got a job as a tutor. After one semester though, I took a break because of my social anxiety when speaking in front of other people. I felt that I was bad at my job because I was rarely prepared and procrastinating to correct students’ assignments.

The following semester, I sometimes assisted a friend of mine who was also a tutor. Most of the time, we did the exercise courses together and were lucky to have a group of very warm, forgiving students. I slowly built confidence in my teaching ability.

At the same time, I had a job as a student assistant for a chair. For this job, I had to learn C++ and program a small tool. I was very motivated to learn something new and make a good impression. However, my best was nothing more than okay in the eyes of the brilliant people working there. I started procrastinating and doubting my intelligence.

The next semester, I started teaching again. This became easier, but the job at the chair did not. I felt that I wasn’t doing a good job, and I didn’t want to quit before setting things straight.

I fell into a depression, failing all but one exam in that semester. Suddenly, everyone seemed to be more intelligent and capable than me, and I couldn’t get out of bed in the morning.

I finally quit my job at the chair, concentrating on just teaching. After a while, I started feeling safe and happy doing it, and I got positive feedback from students. I filled in for the professor when he was not able to give a lecture and had fun answering every question that arose.

Procrastination was still an issue though, and even more since that depressive episode which had caused a chronic feeling of being deeply flawed.

After two attempts of writing a thesis and with a lot of help from other people, I still managed to get my Bachelor’s degree.

After that, I felt like I needed to get a 9-to-5 to run away from my procrastination habit. I quickly found a job as a Java developer at a medium-sized company. The moment I had the contract in my hands, I felt terrified, but I didn’t know why.

I started working and soon started procrastinating in the office, working maybe 2-3 hours a day. Nobody seemed to mind, they even shortened my probationary period. All the feedback I got was positive, but I felt guilty and anxious every day.

This hasn’t changed since. I’m body-leased to another company right now, and even they don’t seem to care.

I have started tracking my time and found out that on average, I spend about 55% of my workday on productive apps and sites like my IDE, WinSCP, StackOverflow.

However, the reason why I distract myself so much is that I’m anxious and unable to concentrate most of the time. Most days I struggle a lot, and when someone asks me if I’m happy with my job, I sometimes start crying.

I have been looking for jobs online, but all the software development jobs require someone to be “passionate” about coding, and I’m not. I’m passionate about helping people understand things they find difficult, but too socially anxious to become a teacher. I like shaping meetings so they are efficient and everyone knows what to do afterward, but I’m too anxious, insecure and socially awkward to be a Scrum Master.

Maybe I need to do something completely different, but I don’t know what. Or maybe there is a way to change my view of myself as a developer so that I don’t think that I really need to do something else?

Thank you very much for reading.
I would be very grateful for your input.



I hope things are going well for you.

I think that what you call “procrastination” is more common than you’d think - maybe you are surrounded by people looking busy all day, but certainly I only get a few good hours of work done a day. But no one complains and people are happy with my output! So it’s taken years, but I’ve just accepted this is how it is. I don’t think in this work you can just come in at 9 and do constant thinking until 5, it’s never worked like that for me. Maybe it does for a lot of people?

I also hate the word “passionate” appearing in job ads also. I’m passionate about getting paid for working, but beyond that, I’m not really passionate about your crufty 10yo custom web app you want work on.