I wrote my first line of code at 12. I fell in love with it and continued. I'm 25 now and I'm a software engineer. I don't even have time or energy to work on personal projects anymore. Writing code isn't a hobby anymore. It's a means to survive. Why/how did this happen? When will building things be fun again? Before landing my first job as an engineer, not once did I consider salaries, equity, atmosphere, nor any of the other amenities (or lack thereof) of code as a profession. But, I don't even know when any of that fell into the picture and they've managed to suck the novelty out of a really cool pastime. I'm essentially a well-paid robot. Who did this? What's happening? What can I do to find the freedom I once had? When did I become just another cog in a machine? Should I try my hand in business, bent on making a lot of money so I can retire early and have time to experiment again? Is that unrealistic? Should I buy lottery tickets every paycheck? We only get one life and I realized this. I'm panicking because I know I'm not enjoying myself and that I'm not on track to leave the world better than it was when I was born into it. So much loss. I'm grateful, but this is not cool at all. I want my hobby back.

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    I wrote my first line of code at whatever age I first wrote "x + 2 = 5".
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    I love playing music. At one point, when I was younger, I decided not to make it a means to survive, because I didn't want to spoil the fun of it.

    I love coding. As much as music. But coding is more pragmatic to me. Is a mean to an end. I don't mind spoiling it.

    Perhaps coding is for you what music is for me. It's another kind of love. Perhaps you should consider working with something else so you have time (money) to do what you love.
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    Great post. Sometimes I feel the same way. Maybe it would help to look at your current job as a stepping stone to starting your own company/project that can be exactly what you want to build and be something that you actually feel will impact people in a positive way. Kind of like using your day job to fund what you really want to do. A good paying job and some savings could give you some runway to do your own thing, if that would help bring the run back.
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    Before you know it another 10 years will pass. You are in control. Take control and do everything possible to enjoy life again. Do it NOW!
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    Welcome to your quarter-life crisis, dude, where you learn that you have no destiny besides turning into the normal grown-up we all feared becoming, and life is a lot more tedious than you hoped. it's normal and we all go through it :) the existential dread you're experiencing will pass, I promise.

    your problem is that everything you've done in your life has been in service to achieving what you have now, your education and engineering job, but you didn't plan beyond that.
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    you're in a good position now, though, sounds like you're reasonably settled with a good job. now your job is to figure out who you are beyond just being a programmer. which isn't easy, but could be fun. go get drunk. try religion. volunteer. go hiking. fail trying to read Ulysses. make friends with people who aren't pro techies. figure out the shit you like and care about, and when you do, you'll have a much better idea of what you might be able to do with your code besides just coding.
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    The only way you are going to get that freedom back is to regain control of when and why you code.

    Maybe leaving your current job outright isn't in the cards. Do you have an idea you can get started on in your spare time? (Preferably one with some income potential). Do you think you could go it on your own? Grab a like-minded friend or two and start consulting and doing contracted work on the side.

    Clients can be pain, too, but at least you'll be able to choose.
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    I feel incredibly lucky because I've been able to move to different parts of the world and find good paying jobs quickly. Since you're still young, you have more options for this so if it appeals to you, do it now! Some countries have working holiday visas for those under 30. Some countries are trying to import as many devs as possible. Every place I've worked had offered to sponsor me permanently. Use your quarter life crisis to do something that puts you on the path to be happier.
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    that sucks man, I went to uni to become a game dev as it's been my one true passion since the age of 5, but during my time there (doing a game dev course) I was taught something everyone hears but no-one listens to, "never make your hobby a job" it sucks the joy out of everything you love about it, and by the time you're good enough, you'll hate it, I suggest you get out now, try a new career, they say it only takes 7 years to become a master at any career, you still have plenty of time
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    I am 11 and I started coding at 7
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    11 and already DevRanting... doesn't take long I guess.
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    I have felt like this, many times too. The life was sucked out of me and coding wasn't really fun, anymore (started when I was 6).

    However, I've managed to find the right job now and the fun has well and truly been injected back into "work".

    I also, love music and didn't want to do that as a job, cos that would definitely have ruined it for me!
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    1) change jobs to another sector 2) take a long holiday, you will get a renewed interest for programming in a few weeks 3) change your work environment. start pair programming or something 4) start teaching or holding lectures. you will gain inspiration from other people learning
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    I'm grateful for my job. If I left, it'd be a huge financial risk. I'm willing to do the entrepreneurial thing, but idk.
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