Why I Quit My Job At Google: A 4-Year Lookback

Everyone seems to be writing these, recently. And unlike most of those authors, I've had more than four years of retrospective wisdom on my decision to quit. 

Google was my first job outside college, and it was fantastic. I met some of my favourite people in the world there - I even married one. I loved having resources to what was going on in the bigger organization, and in the internet space in general. It was easily the easiest job I've ever had (the brand sells itself). And it goes without saying that the perks made my life in a developing nation  more privileged than that of many people in first world countries. So why did I quit? 

1. I was scared I was getting too comfortable.  There's a limited amount of time you can spend in a cushy job before you get entrenched there out of fear, or inertia. It's like the frog in the frying pan - turn up the heat slowly, and it'll never notice it's being cooked.  
2014 Me says: Pschah. It was the right decision at the time, since this was my first job, and I wanted to make sure I wasn't a one-trick pony. My resume's definitely the better for it, not to mention my self-esteem. But if this isn't your first job and if you don't have some burning passionate career ambitions/start-up dreams, just stick with it. This is as good as it's going to get in any job where you aren't your own boss. 

2. Without sounding like a complete baby, I missed being home. Many of my close friends at Google had already quit, Hyderabad was a strange city, and I was craving some place familiar where I could be taken care of. Plus my parents were going to start looking for marriage matches, and it just occured to me that I'd never get a chance to get spoiled by them again.
2014 Me says: When you've stayed away from home for that long, you find it hard to be someone's child. I totally enjoyed it after the initial disorientation, but I think a long vacation may have served me just as well.

3. Honestly, cutting out all the diplomatic stuff, I thought I was capable of bigger, better, more creative, more challenging things. I was learning a lot from the organization and some people in it, but not enough from my role itself. And was I really going to work with just one product all my life?
2014 Me says: Again, not a great thing from your first job. Not the worst thing if you plan on an office job all your life - especially given how easy it is to move horizontally within Google, so you're constantly picking up new things. Since I'm being honest, I think our generation believes each of us is destined for greatness. And the truth is, we're not necessarily. Not for lack of talent even, but just for lack of discipline, or luck, or the guts to say stuff like money and social comparisons don't matter. I have this theory that the smartest people are the ones who don't bother. There is nothing wrong with doing a really great job at something that comes easily to you, and spending your time outside work learning, and doing whatever really energizes you. 

4. I was getting increasingly disillusioned with some of my colleagues - not because they weren't smart, but because I saw shortcuts being taken, and politics were becoming visible in certain factions.
2014 Me says: Every organization has idiots, and empty-boasters, and work shirkers. So Google wasn't an exception, despite the myth that only the best are hired. Big deal. It's not the end of the world.

So, to sum up, quitting Google was exactly the right thing for me at the time. Not because I've since found a career that fulfills or completes me, but because I've realized from working in different roles in different organizations that it's not up to a job to do that. It's up to me.

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