Overwhelmed

Today is the first day of the next chapter of your life.

From the outside, it doesn’t feel like anything is changed. You’ll be doing exactly what you’re doing since mid February.

But you’re not a Hooli employee anymore.

You were waiting for this since years, but you feel everything but happy.

You’re not FI, you’re not free to do whatever you want, and you just removed a huge portion of your identity out of your body and out of your mind. You’re still surrounded by Hooli stuff. You only have Hooli T-Shirts, many Hooli hoodies, jackets, hats, stickers, noise canceling headphones (oops!), two pair of Hooli socks, luckily no Hooli underwear, and many memories.

You wasted Monday March 30th, rereading most of your personal and “marked important” emails and docs within your Hooli corporate account. You re-lived your 7.5 years Hooli life in a day. Excitement when you received the first mail from Gavin Belson himself. Satisfaction when you got promoted. Sadness when you had to say goodbye to amazing colleagues who left the company, including SuperBoss. All the mixed bags of feelings when you changed team: first time, driven by excitement; second time, driven by survival instinct; third and last time, driven by desperation. Joy when you announced the team you were getting married (and then sent funny pictures of your Honeymoon). Strength when you announced your team you were going to take a month and half sabbatical (and then sent funny picture of your hiking trips). Awe, when you shared pictures of your daughter with your team. Sadness and helplessness when you announced your teammates you were going to take a medical leave, that lasted 6 months. Emptiness when you announced you were going to quit.

You joined Hooli as a 35 years old boy. Athletic, full of energy, self esteem, ambitions, and dreams with no ties. Sky was the limit.

Now you leave it as an almost 43 years old man. Way wealthier, but half broken, full of responsibilities, energyless. Still a dreamer though. But you’re chasing dreams you’re not sure you can catch anymore.

Last summer, SuperBoss told you “you’re not leaving because you failed and gave up, you’re leaving because you have other things you want to do! You’re not moving away from something, you’re moving toward something else!

It thrilled you back then, but you don’t feel like that today. Today you’re all projected in the past and scared by the future. The world situation doesn’t help, but you can’t change that. Focus on what you can change.

Yesterday, Tuesday March 31st 2020, was your last day at Hooli. It’s been even weirder than the previous day. Most of it spent in boring bureaucracy: taking “exit surveys”, asking official documents to HR, compensations questions, reference letters, unemployment documents and so on. Then, in the evening, the realization that all of this – what you let define who you are – would disappear, probably at midnight.

Maybe Midnight Pacific Summer Time! Which would give me 9 more hours to browse internal resources!

So you spent the evening on internal mailing lists, on shared docs, on internal memes generator. Attached to a world that was going to disappear. What was weird was that you didn’t search for people. Didn’t send many goodbyes, even though you have quite a few friends in the various offices. Maybe that’s because you know that those who matter won’t disappear, and those who disappear won’t matter.

But then, before midnight you sent one last message on an internal mailing list, and started chatting with random colleagues. You attention whore! You like having your loved ones around you on your deathbed.

Hey RIP, what a shitty metaphor! A lot of people are dying these days!

“Agree, but don’t break the poetry please. I don’t know if you noticed that you’re talking to someone who has a tombstone as a logo… What did you expect?”

Midnight came. Sadly Central European Summer Time was the cut-off. Services started to disappear, “your account doesn’t exist anymore”… You jumped from service to service like a dying animal checks his senses, like a shutting down server kills its processes. Everything was expected, but it still catches you with daze, surprise, pain.

Only two services were still available 15 minutes after midnight. One is probably the most critical one within Hooli, i.e the coding review system. You could still go around and review changelists, comments on other people’s code and so on. Couldn’t “code search”, but still see code reviews. Weird. Almost funny. You got caught by the crazy thought of going around and commenting code snippets of your friends. But then why? You look like a dying animal with a written (hopefully better) reincarnation contract which is too attached to its previous life. Just let it go!

By irony of Fate, the other available service was the internal Epitaph. The site you used to take a look at regularly, to see who has checked out. Years ago you used to comment Epitaph entries like “Uh, that guy in NYC office works no more at Hooli? Let’s check what’s his last message!”. Since you announced you’re going to quit the mood changed to “The internal Percent service says that more than 90% of active Hooli employee joined after me. I’m the ninth percentile 🙂 Hehehe I surpassed this guy as well! Ooooh look at this other guy who quit on February, I lasted longer than him!”. Like an old man who check funeral announcements in the local newspaper to see who he overlived.

Maybe if they update it quick enough I can see myself!

This last thought made you stop the wandering and raise your head above the screen. And realize that everything was over now. No need to fight anymore. There’s no competition to win. And, honestly, nobody cares if you can send a corporate email the day after you’re out.

Nobody really cares.

Thirty minutes after midnight everything went dark. Digital death. Corporate death. Career death.

And you start crying like a baby, for no reason.

Your wife next to you, with you, telling you’re her hero for having done something that’s so hard to do. That everything is going to be fine. That you have a plan. That you have unique skills! That she loves you and forever will.

And you remember a post from Dr Doom, named Definitely not Purpose, where he had a similar breakdown.

Why the hell are you doing this to yourself?

In a normal world you would have had to return Hooli hardware on your last day. Since the offices are closed you still have it. You will return it when life goes back to normal, they told you. Hooli doesn’t leave you alone. It’s like having all the pictures of your lovely ex girlfriend after you decided to break up with her, and being full of regrets even though you know that you weren’t going anywhere.

And now you’re playing all the “what if” scenarios in your head…

Why are you doing this?

Stop it! Stop it now!

Maybe that’s the mandatory first step of the Detoxing phase. You need to say goodbye to your previous life, burning all the remaining gasoline instead of ignoring it and letting it burn you slowly from the inside, or worse letting it explode at unknown time in the future.

This is the way you are, you tell yourself.

You’ve always faced adversities by going all-in, eventually suffering, and then moving on. Once and for all. Forever. You’re definitely not a guy who lives in the past. If nothing, you live too much in the future and too little in the present. You know that to bury the past you need to face it now, and do it the hard way.

But this time you have the impression that “the past” is not an easy one to come to terms with. You know that in ten years you might be regretting all of this. You gotta live with this possibility.

And you know that future misery is a self fulfilling prophecy, and that’s why today is the perfect time to move on.

So long, and thanks for all the fish, Hooli!

But after all, today is another day!

Have a nice day!

16 comments

  1. Yes… I know that feeling.
    Or maybe I don’t.
    Uhmm. It doesn’t matter anyway.
    Well, maybe it does.
    I… don’t know.
    Look, who knows?
    Lol, am I fooling myself?
    Better not be…
    Elephant in the room
    F*ck this.
    I see the elephant in the room
    No, I’m not panicking
    End of the world?
    Mmmmh. No.
    Resurrection?
    Right on the money!
    It’s my rebirth.
    Peace is my home… I’m finally free!

    If you have managed to read this far, I congratulate you. Read the initials of each sentence and smile.

    1. Exactly. Well, must admit that today I feel much better. Yesterday is yet another memory lost in the past.
      Maybe it’s because I had another -20k day in the market? Who knows…

    1. Fun fact: a couple of days after I didn’t even remember having ever worked at Hooli 😀
      I can be very emotional for a short burst, then bury things and move over quickly.

  2. I was going to post just an URL to Wikipedia but since your blog thinks that would be spam I have to expand here. As pointed out by another xhoolier who once came back to give a talk, that’s grief.

    1. Five stages of grief? All gone in a single night, I’m over it now 🙂
      Anyway, it’s strange that with a single link a comment is marked as spam, I think I set my filter to default block 2 links (and I don’t know how to soften the filter for trusted users).

    1. Dear Paolo,

      You asked for feedback, here it comes:
      – the article is ridiculous. It’s a gigantic “appeal to empathy” for a story that’s irrational at best, a lie at worst.
      – I don’t see any connection with my personal story, I just wasted 10 minutes of my life. Yeah, ok, the anxiety… wow, so unique!
      – I had to edit your comment because instead of “RIP” you put a real name, which is a thing you don’t do here.
      – the “mail” field of the comments section is supposed to be populated with a real email. I’m ok with fake emails if the content of a comment is great and adds value, and I’m ok with aggressive and pseudo-troll comments if you don’t hide behind anonymity. I’m not ok with both. You can’t come here, be a troll, and hide yourself.
      – I’m leaving the comment here for future reference.

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