I'm free! I handed in my resignation to Google after 7.5 years, and for the first time in my life, I don't have a next thing lined up--no school, no job on the horizon. I'm taking at least a year off of my professional career to focus on me.
So, you ask, why? After all, Google's one of the world's most valuable companies and the perks are amazing. Taking a year off isn't in the traditional career path, and certainly not during our parents' generation. Despite my amazing experiences at Google, I knew in my heart it was the right move for this time in our lives.
At the end of the day, there's a price to everything, and a job's a job.
[photo: Android circa 2011 with the sisters]
I appreciate how lucky I am to have this opportunity--and how much it's cost. I've so far been incredibly achievement-focused, on a marathon of non-stop studying in high school to go to Rice University, to study more to graduate with a job at Boeing Defense to impress the boss, to get a job at Google to impress that boss, to get another project to work on Android, to impress that boss. While it's been exhilarating, over the years it's taken its toll. I've just now shifted mindset from working to achieve to working to enjoy. That mindset shift, coupled with the Silicon Valley momentum to move ever faster, not slower, was tough.
I knew long ago that this day was coming and it fully hit me during my sabbatical on the road trip. About 1.5 months in, I was stunned when I looked in the mirror at a 5-year younger me. My skin was clear and plump, fine lines and strained muscles gone--and I was rejuvenated just by looking at myself!
Soon after, I started dreaming. For years, I'd dream once every couple weeks, and usually work related. Now I've welcomed the normal being-chased-and-can't-run genre of dreams. I stopped being on edge and don't blow up at small things all the time (sorry Jeremy!). I rekindled old hobbies like photography and sewing; I had been too mentally exhausted from work to do what I love.
Then with surgery, researching the effects of long-term stress and cortisol on health, and seeing what changes had already happened to me, I wanted to give myself every possible chance of recovery for my knee.
[photo: ice sculpture at one of the Android parties]
As for my day job work, I started losing the energetic drive that I had when I look back at my college and earlier Googler days. I've always been passionate about learning and what I'm working on, and I value exciting others through my spirit. While I still always executed, I lost that spark, becoming reactive instead of proactive and feeling like a rinse-and-repeat zombie. Unexpectedly during our road trip, by inspiring others through photography and this blog, I filled that gap in my soul to energize others.
As for Google itself, it's an amazing company and I've kept the doors open to going back. It is different that it was nearly 8 years ago: it's a large company, in my time growing from 15k to >60k employees, and while it's grown well with size, it's still harder than it was to move fast. It's especially hard as an efficiency- and execution-driven Program Manager.
That all said, it was really hard to let Google go. It was thrilling to be a part of Google's growth through YouTube, Chrome, Android, and Alphabet. The people are an awesome, quirky, often dysfunctional family. My decision to leave was a no-brainer at this stage of my life, but really tore my heart.
[photo: one of the Google bike variations circa 2011]
I have a high-level outline for the next year:
- Art: sewing, sketching, photography.
- Travel: more van trips! PNW in April and another 3-month trip this fall!
- Handywork: learn to be handy with home fixes and woodwork. We've got a few large-ish home projects.
- Physical recovery and training.
There's absolutely a time and place to work hard and long, but the plight to achieve more can't go on forever. I'm ready to reap what I've worked for with my new revived spirit. And, when I'm ready to continue my career,
rather than my life fitting into my job, my job will fit into my life.
And I'll have that special spark.
Now back to sewing.