A little more than two years ago, I aspired to be a developer at a startup. So I taught myself Rails, tried to break into Airbnb (unsuccessfully), talked to a bunch of companies, and ended up at a freshly baked YC startup in Los Angeles. Mission accomplished.
Two weeks ago, I quit. I wasn't headhunted. I don't have another job lined up. I'm not moving away. I didn't start a company on the side. I didn't hate my coworkers, or my bosses, or my commute. So what happened?
I just got bored.
The work was interesting at first. We coded until the sun came up, and pushed the limits of our abilities. We solved hard problems and learned tons. We had passionate discussions on the direction of the company and how to get there. There were ups and downs, fulfilling work and crap work, but it was always interesting.
Eventually, those discussions stopped. Shots were called in private meetings and passed down. Ideas from the rest of the org chart didn't surface much, but it was fine; the shot callers knew what they were doing. I was given work to do and I did it well. The work wasn't interesting anymore, but it was easy.
There were so many reasons to be satisfied: great company in a fun industry, catered lunches everyday, stocked snack cabinet, cushy salary, fancy Macbook Pro Retina, hip office loft in sunny SoCal, flexible hours, casual work environment... the startup dream. For a while, those perks offset the weariness. It was just so comfortable.
But boredom slowly ate away at me. I tried to keep things interesting for myself and for my coworkers. I attempted to delve into other areas of the company that needed attention. I expressed my concerns - vocally and often. But my ambition faded, and my creativity dimmed.
I tried to seek fulfillment elsewhere. Coding was once euphoric, but I found myself not wanting to hack on anything outside of work. I bought a raspberry pi and arduino to play around with. They collected dust in a closet. I had plenty of ideas for apps and projects, but couldn't bring myself to build them. I was drained.
I realized I had to leave, but it wasn't easy. So many reasons to stay. I secretly hoped something horrible would happen that would make it easy to jump ship. I waited for months. Nothing happened. Nothing ever happened.
This is how people get stuck. I get it now.
With a bit of nudging, I finally quit. I gave notice, had healthy chats with my bosses and coworkers, and got back to work for the final two weeks. I thought I would feel better once I was out of there, but that didn't happen.
Because it was better than I expected: the relief was instantaneous. I felt like a new person. I felt alive again. The day I gave my notice, ideas that I neglected for years came rushing back. My desire to code was reignited. I went home that day and started hacking on a project that I had been pondering for two years. It just felt right.
For the next three or six months, I'm just going to work on interesting things. I'm going to revisit the arduino and rpi, give my old truck some much-needed attention, cook delicious food, and code away. I'm going to build whatever keeps me up at night. I have a long list, but there's one project that I'm particularly passionate about. It might turn into a startup. It might not. Who knows.
I'm so excited :)