You know a departure is close when everyone you see at work gives you a hug.
I'm constantly hearing, "I'm so jealous" with a look of ... I'm not sure... sometimes it looks like defeat, other times disbelief. It's as if they've seen a magic trick; it looks real, but... it is magic after all, right? It has to be fake. People keep saying they have always wanted to do it but they're afraid to take the risk. I know the feeling. We had that feeling before we decided to take the plunge.
How did we get here? How did we become people who will work at all costs, sacrifice our youth, dedicate our energy, surrender our time? Why is vacation -- how ever small or large -- such a taboo subject in the work place? Before our honeymoon, I hadn't taken proper vacation for more than 2 weeks, and even those 2 week vacations were taken in my final years at Google. When I was in school, I worked through all our breaks because I couldn't pay for school, or an apartment, or food, or books if I didn't keep working. But once I was making and saving money, I still spent every 'vacation' working part of the time. I was legitimately afraid that people would think I wasn't dedicated if I wasn't working all the time. Everyone else seems to be working all the time. That's why we check email before bed, right? We need to tell everyone we're still there, we're dedicated, our minds aren't wandering.
But we're all so worn thin. There's all this pressure to know what you want now, and what you want next, and what you want 10 years from now. That's an impossible thing to strive for. We are human, we're meant to evolve. No one can plan tomorrow for certain, let alone 5 years from now.
In one-on-one meetings with my direct reports, they would often remark, "I don't know what I want to do with my career." They would say it with a bit of shame in their face, a bit of desperation. "It's okay," I would , "I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up."
I the thing that's important to pay attention to are any of the moments that ignite a spark. The moments where your brain floods with endorphins and you realize: I'm good at this -or- I enjoy this! These moments are the cues to understanding what makes ourselves tick. If we can understand these moments, we can better understand how to make ourselves happy. I don't think I've fully realized myself yet, but I feel closer than ever before. And I think this trip will shed a bright light on what's important to me so I can continue to find things that make my soul happy.
I'm elated that I have had a chance to work in a corporate environment that I really enjoy. At Google, there were moments, and people, and portions of projects that I enjoyed but ultimately I never felt 100% there. There was always something nagging at the surface. At Facebook, from day 1 I felt at home. I had found 'my people'. The culture empowered me to strive, to achieve, to grow. I'm happy that I'm leaving a work environment I love and will miss instead of leaving when I'm exhausted and defeated.
I'm curious to see what a year of work-free thoughts does to my brain. I almost feel like I'm about to go on a blind date with myself.