4,495 days. That’s 12 years, 3 months and 22 days.
That’s how long I worked at Google, was a Googler – a nickname and title I loved from Day One back in September, 2006 when I started at a growing search engine with fewer than 10,000 employees.
Today is my last official day at Google. Today, I hang up my Noogler hat, hand in my badge, and say goodbye.
As of today, I won’t be starting my day filling my plate with delicious, free breakfast from the cafe, running into the MK to grab a snack on my way to a meeting, sitting at my desk on VC after VC because I can’t find a meeting room, chatting with colleagues by the barista or on the rooftop, or proudly telling people that I work at Google.
It’s hard to say goodbye to something I’ve loved so much for so long. Have been proud to be a part of for 12 years.
It’s hard to walk away from friends that feel like family and a company that I grew up in. That saw me through my personal highs and lows and has had my back throughout.
Google is the best company in the world to work for. Not because of the perks or the brand recognition, but because of how it treats its people. I always felt like a person first, employee second. I felt like leadership cared about and respected me, my management listened to and cultivated me, my teammates empowered and supported me.
I loved every day as a Googler. Yes, some days were better than others, but I never once took it for granted.
Way back in early 2006, Google was the only company I wanted to work for.
I poured over the Google website and dreamed of working there: I loved the bright colors, the fun workspaces and exercise balls, how young and vibrant everyone looked.
But despite being obsessed with working there, I never applied. I read that they got thousands of resumes a day and knew I didn’t stand a chance – so why even try?
After months of job searching, when my patience and savings were about to dry up and I was starting to get desperate, I got an email about a job I’d applied for. It was a recruiting firm that wanted to have a call.
The job was from an anonymous listing I found on Craigslist for an ‘Internet Powerhouse’, but I was living in Silicon Valley so that could have been three people in a garage for all I knew.
Instead, when we got on the call, they told me the job was at Google. Google. GOOGLE!?! As in the company I wanted desperately to work for but never applied to.
I remember clearly the day the recruiter called to offer me the job. I was driving in my neighborhood and was so excited I had to pull over because I couldn’t even see straight. Not only did Google want to hire me, they were actually offering me a level higher than the one I’d applied for.
I was going to work at Google. To be a Googler. It was a dream come true.
Throughout my 12-year journey at Google, I was right all along: working at Google truly has been a dream.
I’ve worked alongside the best and brightest, most kind and compassionate people I’ve ever met. I’ve taken amazing trips across the country and the world and done amazing things I never thought I would. I’ve helped some of the smallest businesses grow and led partnership strategy for some of the world’s largest brands.
So, why in the world would I leave?
I’m asking myself that a lot these days. Sometimes when I’m feeling especially brave and certain of myself, I’m confident I’ve made the right decision; others, not so much.
Almost a year and a half ago, I had one of those epiphanies that tend to come when things feel at their bleakest.
I was reeling from several major work challenges that, as Murphy’s law would have it, all seemed to happen at the same time. I was consumed by thoughts about work. I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat. I was constantly replaying things in my mind asking myself: how did we get here, how did I let this happen, what would happen next, how would this turn out. In my mind, things were so serious that, despite always having been a high performer, I actually thought there was a possibility I might get fired.
I remember standing in my bedroom one day spiraling and then all the sudden catching myself asking:
Is this worth it? Is all this stress and anxiety and not sleeping and not eating and not being present to enjoy my kids…worth it? Will this help get me to where I want to be?
And when I was really honest with myself, the answer was no.
It wasn’t that I didn’t love Google anymore – I did. It’s that I wasn’t truly passionate about what I was doing, and never really had been. I had fallen onto this path by answering that anonymous Craigslist ad and had just never gotten off.
What I came to realize is that wanting to work for an amazing company surrounded by wonderful people isn’t the same thing as knowing what I want to do with my life. What I want my life to stand for and what I want my contributions to be.
Thankfully, I didn’t get fired – in fact, we fully recovered from the work challenges and I was performing incredibly well and at the top of my career. But, the seed had been planted.
When I was really honest, despite fighting hard against it and desperately not wanting it to be true, staying at Google no longer felt right.
So, what does feel right?
After learning all those years ago that I really should have been believing in myself all along, I’m jumping off the cliff to go after the thing I’ve been dreaming about, rather than to not even try.
I’m starting a coaching and teaching practice to support smart, successful people who want to live the lives of their dreams rather than staying stuck in a life that doesn’t feel right.
Because what I’ve learned is: if it doesn’t feel right, no matter how great it may look on the outside, it’s time to make a change.
Change is scary – believe me, I know it firsthand. I’m walking away from a highly successful career at the best company in the world to work for as a single mom to 2 little girls and I get no financial support.
But, at a certain point, the fear of not doing this became greater than the fear of doing this.
The fear doesn’t go away, but I think one of the most important lessons we can learn in life is how to have fear without letting fear have us. If we choose to stay stuck, we let fear win.
I wouldn’t have gotten here if it weren’t for the incredible journey I’ve had at Google. That’s why it doesn’t feel like I’m leaving; it feels like I’m graduating. I’m going out into the world, armed with all the wonderful things I’ve learned along the way, to try and make this world just a little bit better than how I found it.
Words can’t describe the gratitude I feel for the ride, for the experience, for the opportunity. So, the best I can do is to say thank you – from the bottom of my heart – for everything.
This article originally published on Medium on January 8, 2019