Wednesday, July 8, 2015

If not now then when?

It's been a while since my last blog post, yes. Thanks for the reminders from some of you out there :) This post has been purposefully delayed as I've been thinking about the contents and how to craft it over the last few weeks. Why? Well... the six month mark of my Google hiatus was approaching and now it's here. The life decision of what to do next and whether or not I'd return to work was upon me. I'd frolicked around Europe for long enough it was back to reality at the start of June.

Now the decision is in. Thanks to those of you who have listened to me blabber about it and talk in circles over the last few weeks! I think I knew the answer a while ago but had to get my head really wrapped around it and as of today I now call myself an xoogler (yes, there's even a Googley name for ex-employees). This is an identity that I have thought about for a long time and been fairly terrified of. But, like breaking up with a boyfriend of many years ago I'm finally not afraid of life without it. The thought of going back to the routine is actually more worrisome for me than not. Over the past few weeks I could not get myself to really be excited and commit to heading back to work. This is how I knew it was time to say goodbye Google. 

The Mrs Potato Head and Noogler hat are originals aged 12 years!
Android is a little younger :)
I set out to discover the world outside Google over the last six months and see how and were I might land. The journey isn't over yet and I certainly don't have all of the answers but one thing I do know is that there's a hell of a lot to see and do out there and there's more to life than money and working at 'the best company in the world'. Life doesn't need to be as materialistic and complicated as I feel I've made it and as San Francisco imposes on me. The golden handcuffs that kept me at Google for so many years are hard to break off but I'm doing it and happily walking away. Funemployment is now my game for reals. 

I certainly wouldn't trade my Google experiences for anything. I've met people who are now some of my best friends, traveled all over the world, been evacuated from Europe after a volcano, gotten to work on and see amazing projects come to life, and so much more. I grew up with Google. 

I was 21 years old when I first walked into Google in 2003; one week out of Stanford with no expectations as to what this job and certainly not what the company would turn into. At the time I was just happy to have a job and thought like most college graduates that this might be two years and then I'd figure out a master life plan. I would have laughed in your face if you told me I'd still be there 12 years later - who stays at their first job out of college for that long? 

The idea of identity, and my new identity as an xoogler, is something I've thought a lot about recently. Coming into Google I identified as a swimmer. Swimming was my life aside from school and that's who I was to so many people and certainly to myself until I was 21. Over the years the swimmer identity faded and Google took over. I was a Googler and proud of it. The look on people's faces from the early days through to now when you tell them you work for Google hasn't changed much. It was usually a moment I used to make myself feel good, like a little pat on the back as though I had something someone else didn't have. Today very few people that know me at work know me as the swimmer and it's not how I identify myself. I'll now no longer be a Googler and that identity too will fade. I've been itching for something new and I'm still not sure what it is but shedding one layer will hopefully help. I suppose for now I'll take 'fun seeking lady of leisure' and see where that lands me.

I may come running back or freak out after a few more months with no income but I'll cross that bridge if I get to it :) I want to be energized and enthusiastic about Google (or any job) because that's how you thrive and certainly how Google keeps cranking out amazing products and ideas; without it it's just any other corporate slog. I'll pass on the corporate slog, thank you very much. 

So now I'm figuring out how I'm going to fill my days and weeks. There's a few solid plans and vague ideas floating around. But I can certainly say I'm looking for experiences. I've discovered that filling my days with experiences is incredibly fulfilling. Experiencing the world around me or just enjoying time with friends and family fulfills and recharges me so much more than I imagined. Last minute tickets for Taylor Swift in concert with my nieces and sister, or mountain hiking in the rain and snow, or wine on the beach for no specific reason, yes, you can't beat it and I want more of it. 

I think in the past I used material things and work to fill voids and to kill time. With income to spare why not head to my favorite shops. If you saw my closet you'd know what I mean! In the weeks I've been back, and even when I was away, I've had very little urge to go out and buy clothes, shoes, or other crap that I really don't need. There's no need for 'stuff' or that satisfying swipe of the credit card to make me feel good when you fill the days with experiences. I actually wished I might come home and find that someone had just thrown out half my stuff, I likely wouldn't have even missed it. 

Granted, without a paycheck I think more about what I spend, but the urge just isn't even there. It feels good. I saw in countless places in France and Italy the simplicity of life and sheer enjoyment and joy of being outside, soaking up the environment, sun, views, whatever it might be and that's what I'm after. Where I'll be after the next few months I can't tell you. And while it's a little nerve wracking I'm incredibly excited. I figured out how to get my own health insurance, buy groceries, and pay my own cell phone bill over the last few months. I think I can figure the rest out too. 

Life in San Francisco is a big question mark for me now. It just feels like the easy way. I know what's here and while it's lovely and filled with friends the adventure of a new place is incredibly appealing. When I returned back to the city in early June it was the first time I'd come back and not felt like this was the only place I wanted to live and where I had to be. This was a big deal for me. I have come to see San Francisco for what I believe it's become over the years which is a pretty money hungry place obsessed with where you work and how much money you have. I feel like the people who dominate New York in their suits are also in San Francisco they're just disguised in skinny jeans and hoodies. Don't get me wrong, I still love this place and you can't beat all it has to offer but it's just an exhausting place to be and there's more to life. So I'm living by the motto 'if not now then when' to take on experiences and see what comes of them. There's a massive world outside Google and San Francisco and I hope to see as much of it as possible! I may never leave San Francisco for good but I'm glad I see it in a different light now.

So as I move on, the next major item on the agenda is hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc in September. It's been on my bucket-list for a number of years and is only doable mid-June into September. If I don't do it now who knows when I'll have the chance. So 170KM of trekking around Mont Blanc through Switzerland, France, and Italy here I come. Until then I'll be between San Francisco and the East Coast with hopefully a few short trips on the side. 

After Mont Blanc I'm going to see what pops up and where the wind blows. I'm open to any and all ideas since the travel list has only gotten longer in the last six months rather than shorter! Might as well keep adding to it. And even better yet, if you're headed somewhere cool or know people in amazing places let me know. 

As I learned in my intro to Python class last year the simplest way to start is... Hello World!