I’ll never forget my 26th birthday. It was the day I gave my notice to leave Google.
I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a whirlwind of emotions.
I was relieved to finally break free of the golden handcuffs.
I was optimistic. It felt like a cloud had been lifted and a whole new world of possibilities opened up.
I was ecstatic. I couldn’t wait to see what the future held.
Initially, everyone shared my enthusiasm.
Coworkers eagerly asked what’s next, vicariously basking in my newfound freedom. Friends cheered me on, excited to see where the journey takes me.
My family even threw a small celebration to mark the occasion. (To their credit, this is highly unusual. Indian parents typically encourage getting a job, not quitting one.)
For a few weeks, leaving my job was a hot topic of discussion. I found myself talking about it everywhere I went. This is natural for any big life transition. When you catch up with people, it inevitably comes up.
Then, the conversations slowed.
Once I told everyone that needed to know, it didn’t come up as often. The people closest to me would still follow up, but even that became less frequent as I settled into my new life.
Their excitement had worn off.
After all that buzz, this was disorienting.
You know the sudden silence after a party when you close the door behind your last guest? That’s what it felt like.
It was eerily quiet - equal parts calming and unnerving.
On one hand, it was peaceful. I didn’t have to explain my actions to anyone. I was finally on my own.
On the other hand, I was still on a high. This whole time, I was feeding off everyone else’s energy. Now that I was by myself, I felt its absence.
As I acclimated to this new reality, I wondered: is it always going to be this solitary?
It turns out, the answer is yes.
No one cares
Today, what I’m doing rarely comes up. It’s old news. Everyone went on with their lives and I was left to my own devices.
What I do doesn’t matter to anyone. Interestingly, I could be making millions or nothing at all - nobody would know the difference.
This led to a realization: no one cares about your life as much as you.
To be clear, this isn’t a negative statement. If anything, it’s empowering.
It’s a lesson to live for yourself, not others.
It’s ok to be contrarian
One, it teaches you that it’s ok to be contrarian. We overestimate the consequences - the fear of being shunned is overblown. People may care for a bit, but they’ll move on quickly. Everyone has their own life to live.
You see this play out time and time again.
For example, it happens constantly in Indian communities. We’re encouraged to marry a person from the same culture.
When someone bucks that trend, they become the talk of the town. Often, their family is deeply upset too. But with time, everyone forgets about it and gets back on good terms.
It’s like it never even happened.
Look out for yourself
Two, it encourages you to look out for yourself. Do what makes you happy instead of what provides external validation.
Ultimately, you’ll be the one living your life; not anyone else. Would you rather be with the wrong person from the same culture or the right person from a different one?
I stuck around too long at Google due to this very mistake. I let others define what success meant for me. I was told from an early age that the goal was simple: good grades, good job. I had both, so I thought I made it.
However, the lack of fulfillment kept nagging at me. I struggled to reconcile it with my perceived success.
Eventually, I realized I had to do something about it. So, I took the leap and quit.
It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one. It was the only way I could be happy… and I’ve never looked back.
This post took redacted minutes to write.
P.S: You can find more of my thoughts on Twitter @_suketk.