5 things that I learnt in 2020 that led me quitting my job at Google
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
2020 has been such a year to remember.
We all more or less went through a lot of struggles both physically and mentally in 2020, but looking back I cannot be more than grateful for how 2020 had transformed me and rebalanced my life to focus on the people and things that I should be caring the most. Here’re the 5 things that I learnt in 2020 in summary:
1. Cooking for yourself can be more rewarding (and also healthier) than being provided with free food
Don’t get me wrong, free food in the office from breakfast to dinner is amazing. However, there was no other time than 2020 that I finally had the urge to try cook for myself and understood that
- I can make amazing healthy food on my own as well and
- Cooking can be a therapy when it comes to stress
How so? First of all, I finally realized the intake of my oil, took notice of the ingredients that I purchased (make sure they are sugar-free/ low-cal or non GMO), and also trained my muscle in being creative in recipe and also food display. Guess what? I managed to reduce more than 10 pounds during pandemic by cooking on my own, and also found joy in cooking with loved ones to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner together instead of dining out. Another bonus is that I even saved money from delivery food which might contain harmful chemicals in the containers.
2. If workplace is only promoting well-being without really executing it, advocating for yourself and acting upon it is key
Desperate times call for desperate measures. We all know tech companies can sometimes be stressful when it comes to tight head counts and overwhelming projects to handle. Despite that, being a usual “I can take it” girl, I always believe that I would have never had a mental health breakdown if I kept trying and doing my assigned.
However when it comes to two highly prioritized projects from different time zones, with more than 14 hours of daily work for months handling different stakeholders, you can somehow experience a mental breakdown (plus physical problems).
That’s what happened to me in 2020. I slept for around 3 hours every day with me juggling from one project to the other, and both colleagues from different time zones had noticed that I was editing some work at their sleeping time. I started experiencing weird body reactions (e.g. having blisters in my mouth) and also my mental health was in the edge of my max limit. By then my doctor warned me I should immediately paused my work and take a rest.
She was right. I went on a medical leave and realized I was far from being healthy. Oftentimes people neglect the fact that themselves are more important than work. They skip lunch, keep working till midnight and answer calls or messages in the weekend. Let’s just call them “high-achievers” for now. Not until those “high-achievers” had some side effects in their body that they finally realize they are the most important asset in their life. Don’t ever risk your health over anything.
3. Cherish Family and friends that care about you and give less care to others’ .
Don’t get me wrong, but this quote is real:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
― Bernard M. Baruch
Oftentimes, I struggled to give more caring and attention to people who are so close to me since I know “they will always be there for me” whenever whatever happens. By contrast, I tend to give more attention to weak ties and a lot of people by hosting parties and gathering to make sure that I am popular and “I am considered to be popular by others”.
In 2020 these are all BS to me.
When it comes to a pandemic without an ending for a whole year, I noticed that some “friends” eventually faded out in my life and I got so much more chances to stay with my family and close friends that I usually had taken for granted.
Since when do I need more attention from others to justify that I’m loved and admired when my family and real friends have already been there? The social media illusion always makes us constantly want to compare with others, but ignore the ones that have always been here for us.
It doesn’t mean meeting with new friends and weak ties are unimportant, however, I learnt it is also critical to rebalance ourselves in our time arrangement and try to spend more time and give back the love that has always been here around us to our family and close friends.
4. Spend money wisely, and you’ll figure out you really don’t need to spend that much every month.
To be honest, I have been living paycheck by paycheck since I joined Google. Google is my first job after graduating from college, and I still remember how thrilled I was when getting my first paycheck and bought a $1000 pants from issey miyake after shopping in the store for ten minutes.
My money spending habit was if I didn’t spend a certain amount of money in a week, I felt weird.
Before the pandemic, I didn’t know why but I would go to fancy hotels and even started a “monthly Michelin restaurant club” with my friends just to enjoy my “YOLO” life and live the best times in my 20s. Looking back from now I felt like I was like others being a happy naive yet broken HENRY (High earners not rich yet) who will never turn rich.
Luckily the pandemic happens, and I chose to not risk my life to dine out and not go shopping if I need to. What’s more, I moved in with my boyfriend during pandemic and realized how he compared and did a lot of research when having a purchase over $200 which I could have spent daily easily when there was no pandemic.
I realized that I have been entitled and wanting to show people that I made it all the time with the clothes that I wear and the accessories that I use. But how often do I really use them? I wore the $1000 pants once.
Stop spending money like there’s no tomorrow. Because usually, there is.
5. Think hard before following your gut, and accept whatever it takes you to.
This idea of doing my startup full-time has been in my heart in the beginning of 2020. However, I have had this “golden handcuff” and “privilege out of nowhere” when working in a big tech company.
There is no such year as 2020 that I finally determine to start up own company. It dawns on me if I don’t follow my gut and do something that I really want to do in my life, I may regret when I become 80 years old.
Possibility of failure? Yes. I don’t have a lot of savings and the world is full of uncertainty. The worst case scenario is I can always go back to work for some other companies or study a phD if things don’t work out. The experience of me trying new things before 30 and being unmarried without a kid is comparatively a lower opportunity cost.
Therefore, I thought for a long while and decided to leave Google — a great company that I worked for over three years.
Everything comes in full circle. Now I’m living a new life as a startup founder and experiencing something new. Every day is crazy and terrifying and worrisome. However, I’m also excited of what life may bring me and also the adventure that is ahead. Most importantly, I’m proud to have made the decision, grateful for my 2020 and can’t wait how 2021 will unfold.
“Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride, cause it’s going to be a long road.”