I originally published this in October 2020 as a Twitter thread. Even though it’s been a couple of years, the points still stand, so I decided to preserve it here as a short blog post.
It’s easy to only see the success and also to only share the success in our journeys. But success is usually just the end of a long path of struggle, compromises, setbacks, failure.
Over the years, I’ve talked about my journey a lot. About the kind of measures I took and continue to take to protect my physical and mental health from the effects of running a project like OctoPrint.
Sometimes you might find me posting a GIF on social media of me using a heavy bag in my office:
That GIF and the bag is a big part of my coping strategy and has actually spawned a whole talk (“How to deal with toxic people”) that I’ve now had the pleasure of giving a bunch of times.
I have been running OctoPrint for a decade now. It’s my baby, it’s a story of success for me. But it has a cost not many see.
Stress. A sheer ton of pressure on my shoulders. Sleepless nights here and there. Worry about funding, about retirement, about security, about the future as a whole. A strong imposter syndrome I have to combat daily (“this was all just luck and I don’t belong here”). Lots of set backs. Aggressive people. Burnout. A lot of “I’m not good enough” and “I’m not doing enough” and “I’m not doing it right”. And of course a lot of “I’m not doing enough to protect myself from all of this”.
It’s easy to put a smile on your face and radiate success and security and all that stuff we get drilled into us that we need to be. This is what you are taught to show the world. But this is just the surface. No successful project I know of didn’t have a price.
I would be lying if I claimed I have never just sat there and wondered if I should just stop doing this to myself. So far the good outweighs the bad and the ugly. I sincerely hope it stays that way. But never assume someone “just has success”. Everything has a price, nothing in life is free.
With that being said, I feel obligated to confirm that I am in fact ok, and you all don’t have to worry about me 🙂 (at least not more than usual 😉). I’ve posted this because I think it is important to talk about these things a bit more publicly, since it’s indeed way too often we only see the success and not what lead to it, what it cost or what it continues to cost.