Why did I leave Google
Reflections on how to trade pride and comfort for real self
“In order to grow up and remain yourself, you need courage,” E.E. Cummings
About six months ago, I decided to leave a very good job at Google in order to try to live a different life. I had a faint idea of what I would do next, but I left because I could no longer stay. I can’t put it into words, but something inside me said that I shouldn’t move further along this career path. I clearly felt that he would not lead me to where I want, and that I needed to turn off this road. Although I didn’t really understand where I want to go. With every month of my stay at Google, my anxiety and resentment grew. I could wait for the right turn, but I understood that the farther, the harder it would be to turn. And what if I don’t know where exactly I need to collapse? The only thing I was sure of was that no one would tell me the right decision: neither my manager, nor my colleagues, neither friends nor parents. I imagined myself in old age: a wonderful husband, wonderful children, a mortgage, and the sadness that I had missed the opportunity to do what I wanted to do. Therefore, in January 2013, I turned into the next turn.
When people ask what it was like to leave Google, I remember breaking up with my boyfriend in college. He was charming, handsome, respected and everyone loved him - even me. But he was not the only one. This thought came to me more and more during long trips on the bus in the last year of college: I looked out the window, thought, and under the spoon I got an unpleasant sensation. The realization that I needed to part with him was a long and difficult process, but this is exactly what I should have done. In the end, I gathered my courage and broke our hearts. I was not sure that meeting someone was better, but later this decision opened up so much for me that I consider it to be one of the main in my life. It took me several years to come to the same decision regarding Google - it was almost unimaginable to leave such a salary, manager, who treated me like a family member, colleagues whom I considered friends. All that I have been striving for so long. And I could not give it up, although I was unhappy.
When I thought about why I can’t leave, I realized something about myself. Something that I myself did not like, and which is embarrassing to admit. The main reason I didn’t leave was because I would have to leave the comfort and prestige associated with the life of the Google. I began to think further, and I realized that external recognition, unfortunately, became for me the main motivator. It all started in kindergarten when Mrs. Mani told my mother that I was the best child she had seen in 40 years of work. All my friends have the same story - they were all the best children. Over time, gaining recognition has become even more exciting: graduation, entering Wellesley, receiving college awards, getting internships, getting a job at Google. And I was faced with the fact that I did not know what to do. Because then what I was going to do (quit the company) did not add pluses to karma. Unless they could call me brave. I was not ready for this. In truth, the thirst for recognition is so deeply rooted in me that I used the startup as a reason to leave Google. “I'm leaving to work on the idea of a startup.” It looked shorter and more attractive than the phrase “I need to slow down, understand myself and what I want from life.”
During my last promotion, I realized that something was wrong. And this was not the anxiety that I began to constantly feel after the first year of work. The first year was too stormy to stop and think about what I was doing. I first started to earn money on my own, was passionate about training and working with clients. I fell in love with Google, fell in love with Google employees, and I had no time for philosophical questions about life. However, years later, during the last promotion, I noticed that everything was aboutHigher efforts in each new role did not make me happier. On the contrary, the promotions made me less happy because I felt that I was putting my energy into something that I was not even sure about. Money, of course, is a good thing, but they have not changed my lifestyle. I felt guilty all the time. Isn't Google the best place to work? Shouldn't I be happy with the six-figure salary, free meals, massage and other goodies? Of course, I felt a sense of gratitude, but at the same time I felt like sucks. I felt unrealized, and was afraid to tell anyone about it.
It would be nice if my inner voice said: “Hey, Ellie, it’s good here, of course, but it's time to move on.” Instead, he said: “Hey, Ellie, anyone would like to be in your place. So love this place. Work well. Stop complaining. ”And I did - I worked hard, went on a business trip to Tokyo for three months, worked with such wonderful clients as Square, brought to life my initiatives, and trained new team members. I grew up on Google - and learned how to work well on Google. Google has become my MBA. However, my heart no longer belonged to him. I understood this, but still could not leave. It was in my power to change my life, but I did nothing. The reason was not in the parents — they would support any decision I made, even leaving — the reason was in me. Fear held me, fear of what people think about me. I pressed myself. Every day, from the moment of waking up to the moment when I went to bed. And sometimes even in a dream. For years I had the same dream that someone was chasing me. I run away, through the doors, through the windows, but I can not tear myself away from the pursuer by a single step. When I woke up, I kept asking myself, why am I where I am? What am I doing here? I felt like an imposter in my own life.
The peak of my anxiety came at the end of 2012, and I decided to take a month of rest, maybe doing nothing would help clarify my thoughts. Everyone was surprised that I was not going on vacation to Europe, but was staying in San Francisco and would “just live.” Almost every morning I attended ballet classes, went to the store, cooked (this is something unusual for Google), started baking again, read, ran, played the guitar and did not check email. Simply put, I enjoyed all those little things in life that you don’t always have enough time for when you work, in the hope that it will light me up. I was fine, but the inspiration did not come. I even thought that I really should have gone to Europe.
And then, when the month was drawing to a close, I decided to go to Joshua Tree with my college friend, her boyfriend, and a company of their mutual friends who lived in Los Angeles. In the evening, when we gathered around the fire, one of the guys began to question me. Almost all of them were artists of various kinds, and I remember that for some reason I was shy about the fact that I work for a technology company. To admit this was akin to admitting that I am from the Internal Revenue Service ( engaged in collecting taxes - approx.) This guy asked what I do at work and how long I work. I told him. And he answered: “You must really like to work there for so long? What is it? ”He asked too many questions, was annoying, although he only tried to keep the conversation going. I remember saying something good (mostly “cool people work there,” which is true), but I also felt like defending myself, as if they were testing me. Of course, it was just a sensation, but then the insight came ... the first time I realized that I was living a fake life. It was unpleasant.
After that conversation, I walked away from the fire for a couple of minutes to look at the stars. The moon was bigger than ever. Although music was coming from our camp, I was still surrounded by nobody and anything, I felt free from everything. At that moment, I realized that I can do whatever I want, and the realization of these desires is only in my hands. This is my life, and I must stop worrying about what other people think. If I want to do cooking, I have to do it. If I want to IPR and be, I have to IPR andTh. If I want to found a company, I have to found it. If I want to do nothing, I have to do nothing. If I want to screw up once, I have to screw up. So I stood for only a couple of minutes, until someone called me, but this time seemed to me for ages. I might have come to this conclusion in San Francisco too, but I think this feeling of lostness helped me. This feeling made me silent long enough to hear something that I did not want to admit: I lived a fake life. When I returned to the office, I immediately reported that I was leaving. My explanation (to take up my hobbies, work on my own projects, devote more time to cooking) confused everyone, but nonetheless my colleagues fully supported me. The irony is that the day I got back to work and announced my resignation,
Several months have passed since then, and people still throw me questions about how I live now: family, friends, former colleagues, casual acquaintances. Sometimes he lives very well, but most of the time (when I calculate how much money I have left) - no. On the one hand, turning off the track into complete obscurity is frightening and lonely. Sometimes I am so paralyzed with fear that I can’t do anything. On the other hand - and this is the most important thing - for the first time in my life I feel that I am not attached to my achievements, I worry less about what people think of me, and spend more time on what I consider important. I work to listen to my inner voice and not to judge what he wants. I can honestly answer my own questions.
The answers to these questions led me to big changes in my life: I quit my job, began to do what I hadn’t given time before (cooking), and created a startup (Mend). I learned to say no and better cope with social obligations, and thus I can devote more time to myself. I moved to Venice (the one in California, not Italy) and live in the spacious apartment of my dreams (for which I could not afford to pay 3 thousand dollars in San Francisco). Every day I run on the beach, and generally live a more relaxed life than in San Francisco. It was difficult to leave my friends and the prospects of the big city, but when I walk along the beach on warm summer evenings, watch the sun go down in the mountains of Santa Monica, I understand that I am finally at home. And although I still have vague ideas about the end point of my journey, I am no longer looking for where to turn off, because I know that I am on the right track. Of course, good studies throughout life and the savings accumulated over 5 years now allow us to live without a salary, but I think that, figuratively speaking, everyone has the right and obligation to go to Joshua Tri. Everyone can change their life; the difficulty is to listen to yourself and then act.
Yes, and by the way. That nightmare no longer torments me.